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German President to attend Armenian Genocide commemoration in Berlin

Germany will be represented by a state secretary at an event commemorating the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I to be organized by Turkey on the same day as the 100th anniversary of the 1915 massacres, Today’s Zaman reports. 

Ankara has invited more than 100 leaders to join the centennial commemorations of the Gallipoli Campaign, including Germany. After German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German President Joachim Gauck indicated they would not participate in the event, Germany decided to send Markus Grübel, the state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defense, to join the commemorations.

Until now, Turkey has traditionally chosen March 18 to honor its soldiers who died in the Battle of Gallipoli, also known as Çanakkale. Remembering the Gallipoli Battle on April 24 has never been on Ankara’s agenda until this year, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) decided to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign on April 24, the same day that Armenians will mourn the mass killings of their ancestors during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, in 1915.

Rather than visit Turkey as part of the Gallipoli commemorations, President Gauck has instead chosen to stay in Berlin to participate in the 100th anniversary commemorative events for the Armenian victims of the 1915 mass killings. Gauck will attend the spiritual ceremony to be organized at Berlin Oberpfarr and Dom Church and will make a speech to commemorate the tragic events that took place against the Armenians under Ottoman rule.

It has not yet been determined whether Gauck will term the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as genocide. The statement released by the German Presidency says, “Joining the ceremony to be held in Berlin, the German President will commemorate the grief that Armenians and other Christian minorities passed through in the Ottoman Empire.” This will make Gauck the first German president to join any such event commemorating what Armenians call genocide.

Chancellor Merkel will not join the Gallipoli commemorations due to her tight work schedule.

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