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Locals weigh in on Germany’s decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide

Turkish nationalist protesters flash the nationalist organization's "grey wolf" sign and hold placards during a protest against Germany on June 2, 2016 in front of the Germany consulate in Istanbul after German parliament labeled the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.

Turkish nationalist protesters flash the nationalist organization’s “grey wolf” sign and hold placards during a protest against Germany on June 2, 2016 in front of the Germany consulate in Istanbul after German parliament labeled the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.

(Ozan Kose / AFP/Getty Images)

Several local officials and prominent Armenians in Glendale are praising Germany’s parliament for voting to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide on Thursday, while some think the move should have come much sooner.

Germany’s government, the Bundestag, voted overwhelmingly to classify the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians starting in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire — what is now modern-day Turkey — as a genocide.

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) commended German officials for taking such action in the midst of negotiations with Turkey regarding the flow of refugees and migrants into Europe.

“It sends a clear message that the truth of genocide cannot be silenced and that temporary expediency can never justify complicity in genocide denial,” Schiff said in a statement.

It might not be so much of a domino effect, but perhaps it could give assurance and support for other countries that may be thinking about doing this.

Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian

Schiff has fought during his congressional tenure for the U.S. government to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, but no president has agreed to do so.

Failure for presidential recognition is disappointing, but Germany’s decision could be a motivator for neighboring European countries, said Councilman Ara Najarian.

“It might not be so much of a domino effect, but perhaps it could give assurance and support for other countries that may be thinking about doing this,” he said.

However, fellow Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said he is still critical of Germany because it was a supporter of the Ottoman Empire during the time of the Armenian Genocide. He took to Facebook and shamed both Germany and Turkey.

“While I think it’s a good development that Germany has finally passed an Armenian Genocide affirmation resolution, I believe it was long overdue, and it should be only the first of many steps to follow,” Sinanyan said.

What should follow is Germany trying to influence Turkey to recognize the genocide as well as potential reparations to Armenians, he said.

In response to Thursday’s vote, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Germany and continues to deny the events beginning in 1915 were a genocide.

Turkey’s response doesn’t come as a surprise, said Elen Asatryan, executive director of the Armenian National Committee, Western Region.

While she said she’s thankful for Germany’s actions, her initial reaction was disappointment that the United States still will not support recognizing the genocide.

“It’s unfortunate that our own president and our own country doesn’t stand up to Turkey like Germany did today … It’s not too late for the Obama administration to keep their promise of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”

In his first bid for the presidency, Barack Obama said in 2007 that he would push for U.S. recognition.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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