Foreign Minister Steinmeier on reconciliation between Armenians and Turks

20.04.2015 - Interview

Foreign Minister Steinmeier made the following comments to the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Armenia:

It is anything but easy to get to grips with the description of the events a hundred years ago. The reports on the acts of violence and cruelty committed back then, the terror which defies comprehension, leave us lost for words even today. It is possible to want to call what happened genocide, and I can well understand the reasons why and even more so the feelings which provoke it. That is understandable and also important. However, we have to realise that it is not enough.

What is more important for me is that, as Foreign Minister, I have a responsibility, and I also have to consider what will happen after 24 April, after all the controversy surrounding the centenary. In view of the terrible events one hundreds years ago, efforts to deal with the painful past must always go hand in hand with efforts now, in the present day, to reach out to each other and earnestly seek reconciliation. My concern is that an ever more charged political debate in Ankara and Yerevan, as well as here in Berlin, will not lead to what is truly important and to what I always hope for but, rather, will make that more difficult or even impossible: an end to the silence, an end to talking about one another and the start of a sincere and earnest dialogue between Turks and Armenians about what happened back then, what it means for the present and how remembering the terrors of the past can one day translate into better neighbourly relations.

In all of this, we Germans must never forget the unparalleled scale of the Holocaust, for which we bear the blame and responsibility.

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