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Turkey, past and present, is a particularly tough balancing act for Angela Merkel. On the one hand, Germany's own past means its leaders face a bigger responsibility than those of other nations to officially recognize the 1915 killings of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide. But Berlin knows that it is an immensely sensitive topic for Ankara, which has steadfastly denied that the historical event should be classified as "genocide," and Turkey is both the homeland of Germany's largest immigrant group, as well as a key partner in stemming the flow of migrants into the European Union that exploded last year.


A few days ago, the German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that Merkel's government had agreed to "distance" itself from a resolution voted by the parliament in June to recognize the killings as a genocide. The motive behind Merkel's declaration that the resolution was "not legally binding" was to encourage Turkey to lift its ban on German lawmakers visiting the German air base in Incirlik, southern Turkey — a retaliatory move that came after the June vote.


But negotiations with Ankara are no easy tasks. "If Germany continues to behave as it does now, we will consider it," Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu told Die Welt in an interview published today. But, he added, "if Germany tries to treat Turkey badly" then the ban would remain in place, insisting Ankara wouldn't tolerate being considered a "second-class country."


Berlin has big plans for its air base, which plays a key part in the fight against Islamic terror group ISIS, but many are wondering how far they must go to make sure that Ankara plays ball. With her leadership increasingly questioned, including in her own party, and general elections a year away, the line Merkel is walking both at home and abroad grows finer every day.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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