THE BLOG
06/06/2016 10:47 am ET Updated Jun 07, 2017

Germany's Armenian Genocide Resolution Sends Erdogan A Strong Message

Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

On Thursday, June 2, Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, adopted a resolution formally commemorating "the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in 1915 and 1916."

If supporters of justice and morality are delighted by this (belated) political recognition of historical truth, those interested in international relations must be wondering: Why was this resolution adopted now, when German-Turkish relations are more strained than ever? They may even be thinking that this resolution would have had a greater impact a year ago, on the 100th anniversary of the genocide.

The answer is in fact in the question: Political developments have necessitated this policy advance. The resolution had been prepared a while ago, but German politicians found it would be most effective if passed this month.

This resolution is a way for Angela Merkel and her government to say "stop" to Turkey's gradual shift towards autocracy. It's also a way for Germany to assert its power, and indirectly send a message to Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he has gone too far in his blackmail on the refugee crisis.

This resolution is a way for Angela Merkel and her government to say "stop" to Turkey's gradual shift towards autocracy.

Unsurprisingly, the Turkish strong man has retaliated with strong threats. But it's hard to imagine that Ankara will fall out with Berlin after cutting ties with Moscow and losing its influence in the Middle East.

A similar resolution had been withdrawn from the Bundestag's agenda in 2015, under political pressure. However, on the centennial of the genocide, German President Joachim Gauck President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert used the term "genocide" publicly.

It is plausible that in 2015, German politicians still believed that Turkey had a genuine desire to limit the flow of refugees. Clearly, this is not the case today.

But the fact still remains that the terms of this resolution are remarkable. First, the entire German political class -- conservatives, socialists, Greens and the radical left -- supported the initiative through two separate resolutions.

The political progress of the Greens and the German Socialists is particularly notable: Throughout the 2000s, the Social Democrats and the Greens overwhelmingly supported Ankara's denial policy, blinded by the AKP's promises about democratizing Turkey. In recent years, clearly, these progressive movements have been less wide-eyed. President of the German Greens, Cem Özdemir, is a good example for this shift. Özdemir, who is of Turkish heritage, once regarded the AKP as a force for democratization. Today, he is one of the staunchest critics of Ankara's treatment of minorities and dissidents.

Germany knows better than any other country that the only way out for Turkey is to fully recognize the Armenian genocide.

The content of the resolution is also impressive, especially when compared to the resolution that had been passed 11 years ago. In the 2005 text -- a time marked by rising conservative power -- the German parliament refrained from using the word genocide altogether.

Instead, the resolution adopted this year appears flawless: Not only does it unequivocally employ the politically significant term "genocide," but it also stresses the need for education. It states that "German universities should teach students about the deportation and extermination of Armenians in the context of ethnic conflicts of the 20th century, in order to inform future generations."

Germany knows better than any other country that the only way out for Turkey is to fully recognize the Armenian genocide.

And far from placing blame on the Turks alone, the resolution points to "the partial responsibility of the German Empire" and the "unfortunate role" played at the time by Germany, in order to encourage "the federal government to continue to devote attention and memory to the deportations and massacres of Armenians in 1915."

We can only praise the Bundestag and the political courage it took to adopt such a strong resolution. Germany knows better than any other country that the only way out for Turkey is to fully recognize the Armenian genocide.

That's why the resolution stated: "Our own historical experience in Germany shows how difficult it is for a country to work through a dark chapter of its own past. Nevertheless, an honest evaluation of history is the the best tool for reconciliation both within a country and with others."

Moreover, the German intelligentsia has been asking why Germany must continue to apologize to Jewish victims of Nazi crimes and carry out reparation programs while Turkey does no such thing for Armenians. In early May, a hundred German intellectuals called on Merkel to support the resolution adopted last week.

Despite pressure from a strong Turkish minority in the country, this bold resolution was necessary for various reasons, among them this particular German sensitivity and the current context of German-Turkish relations.

This post first appeared on HuffPost France. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.