Reference to genocide to be added
State retracts decision to eliminate notation

FAZ Weekly Frontpage

11. Februar 2005 F.A.Z. Weekly. The eastern state of Brandenburg has
withdrawn its decision to remove a passage in a history lesson that
refers to the killings of more than 1 million Armenians by the Turks in
the early 20th century.

The state's premier, Matthias Platzeck, made the announcement on Tuesday
after he met with Armenian representatives in the state capital of
Potsdam. Beginning next school year, the history lesson for the ninth
and 10th grade will once again include a reference to the killings, but
it will also contain other examples of genocide. Previously, the
killings of the Armenians were listed as the only example.

In explaining the latest decision, Platzeck said it would be wrong to
list just one example of genocide. The view was shared by the state's
education minister, Holger Rupprecht. In a newspaper last week,
Rupprecht defended the decision. "The reference was removed because I
and the premier consider it to be a mistake to list Armenia as the sole
example of such a controversial subject."

The issue is an extremely sensitive one between Armenians and Turks.
Armenians say 1.5 million people were killed between 1915 and 1923 as
part of the Ottoman Empire's campaign to push them from eastern Turkey.
Turkey maintains the Armenians were killed as the empire fought civil

As a result, the Social Democrat Platzeck faced pressure from both the
Armenian and the Turkish representatives. The first change was announced
in late January two weeks after Turkish General Counsel Aydin Durusay
raised the issue.

The decision set off a wave of criticism from parties in the state,
including at least one member of the Social Democrats, who demanded that
Platzeck reverse the decision. Sven Petke, the general secretary of the
Christian Democrats in Brandenburg, said the removal of the passage had
hurt the state's reputation. "It was not the reference to the genocide
on the Armenians that communicated a wrong image. It was the unjustified
removal," Petke said.

Armenians joined the criticism as well. This protest resulted in
Tuesday's meeting, which was attended by the Armenian Ambassador Karine
Kazinian. Kazinian expressed her satisfaction with the change. "The key
issue is that that genocide and everything associated with the things
that happened then will be discussed clearly," she said.

Platzeck denied previous reports that he had bowed to Turkish pressure
and noted that discussions with the Education Ministry had been
conducted months ago.
Brandenburg is the first of Germany's 16 states to use a textbook that
discusses the subject of genocide in the 20th century.

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