Portable Homelands – the Armenian chapter of the ‘Hello World’ exhibition at Museum Hamburger Bahnhof gave occasion to talk about young history and presence of German-Armenian relations with guests from the worlds of politics, culture and society. The Armenian IDeA Foundation and the German Global Perspectives Initiative hosted a discussion with Cem Özdemir and Prof. Wolfgang Huber; the curator of the exhibition, Dr. Clémentine Deliss, brought the evening to a close with a guided tour.
Veronika Zonabend, founder of the IDeA foundation, illustrated the motivation behind devoting her family’s wealth to support the cultural, social and economic development of Armenia. Rafi Baghdjian, CEO of the IDeA foundation, presented IDeA’s vision and its activities in the promotion of culture and identity. He located projects that are supported by IDeA geographically, by means of an interactive map. The foundation identifies five sectors, the development of which are crucial for Armenia’s prosperity: Tourism, Financial Infrastructure, Technology & Energy, Agriculture & Sustainability, and Mining. IDeA resolutely invests in five ‘Enablers’: Education, Health Infrastructure, Urban Development, Cultural Heritage Preservation, Identity Engagement, and Armenia’s Positioning in International Matters.
Cem Özdemir, Member of the German Bundestag and former chairman of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, and Prof. Wolfgang Huber, former chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, discussed the relationship between Germany and Armenia under the moderation of Ali Aslan. Besides the present relationship between both countries, panellists spoke about the genocide and, in particular, its reconciliation process. The genocide costed the life of 1.5 Million Armenians in the early 20th century. Not Turkey alone ought to take responsibility for reappraising the past – Germany too. The recognition of the genocide on the Armenian people is merely a beginning.
Özdemir underlined the importance of accountability as a virtue, and reminds of the apology, Germany still owes for the genocide on the Herero, enforced in 1904 in today’s Namibia.
“Germany has the potential to show, how a critical analysis of the own weakness can be transformed into strength”, says Özdemir. A debate about the German-Turkish relationship will inevitably include questions on migration. A closer look at global refugee movements reveals that Turkey clearly is not a transit country. More people find refuge in Turkey than in Germany.
Both, Huber and Özdemir, did not consider Seehofer’s refugee cap as a key concern – the number of refugees arriving in Germany is long below the cap. Instead, Germany shall focus on addressing the roots of migration abroad, and meet integration challenges, here. The political instrumentalisation of the ‘refugee crisis’ and religious symbols alike must end, says Huber. The government shall concentrate on adopting an immigration law that clearly distinguishes between different motivations behind, and reasons for migration. This is the only way to ensure the continuity of a ‘humanitarian corridor’.
The German-Turkish relationship is part of the German-Armenian relationship. To dream of the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border is insufficient. In relationships, one must invest. Not exclusively with capital of any kind, but by deeds. A strong humanitarian orientation must be paired with a practical sense of reality to promote necessary policies in the realms of education, home and foreign affairs.
- Rafi Baghdjian, Managing Director IDeA Foundation
- Dr. Ingrid Hamm, Co-Founder Global Perspectives Initiative
- Prof. Wolfgang Huber, former Head of EKD Evangelical Church in Germany
- Cem Özdemir, Member of Parliament
- Veronika Zonabend, Co-Founder RVVZ Family Foundation and IDeA Foundation
- Ali Aslan, Moderator and Journalist
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