BERLIN — German Bundestag Greens party Co-Chair Cem Özdemir was awarded Armenia’s Mkhitar Gosh Medal for significant contribution for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The awarding ceremony took place March 23 in the Armenian Embassy in Berlin.

Ambassador of Armenia Ashot Smbatyan delivered remarks at the event, mentioning that Özdemir has proved with his work that in the present days tolerance and courage have greater significance in establishing mutual understanding between peoples, rather than nationalist calls or isolation from other countries.

Several high ranking German government officials were present at the event, as well as MPs and foreign envoys.

On 12 March 2015 Özdemir visited the Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan, Armenia and declared his formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide and called on Turkey to recognize it as well. In an interview he stated: “I think that Germany should obviously refer to the Armenian Genocide issue. As a friend of two countries, we should help to open the Armenian-Turkish border. As a friend of both countries, we should exert effort, so that the Armenian-Turkish relations become like the French-German or Polish-German relations.”

In 2016 Özdemir initiated a resolution in the Bundestag that would formally classify the 1915 massacres as genocide. The resolution passed on 2 June 2016 with what Speaker Norbert Lammert called a “remarkable majority.” At the time, Özdemir emphasized that the resolution was not designed to point fingers at others but rather to acknowledge Germany’s partial responsibility for the genocide. In 1915, the German Empire was an ally of the Ottoman Empire and failed to condemn the violence. After the Bundestag’s approval of the resolution he received multiple death threats.

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