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 Spiegelrevealed 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.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- High Negotiations Committee of The Syrian Opposition meeting in London with world foreign ministers.
- Rio Paralympic Games begin, as Brazil celebrates Independence Day.
- Apple expected to unveil new versions of its iPhone and Apple Watch.
SYRIAN FORCES ACCUSED CHLORINE GAS ATTACK ON ALEPPO
Activists are accusing the Syrian government forces of having used chlorine gas in barrel bombs dropped on an opposition-held neighborhood of Aleppo, Al Jazeera reports this morning. The activists say the attack yesterday killed one person and injured more than 100. A video obtained by the Qatari network shows children being treated for breathing difficulties.
IRISH PARLIAMENT DEBATES APPLE EU TAX RULING
The lower house of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, will debate today the government's decision to appeal the European Commission's $14.5-billion Apple tax ruling, The Irish Examinerreports. The company was accused last week of passing a "sweetheart tax deal" with Irish tax authorities that resulted in Apple paying virtually no tax on its European earnings.
— ON THIS DAY
Includes 1930s footage of the last thylacine. The last what now? Check it out in your 57-second shot of history.
Nearly 50 million children have been uprooted worldwide, 28 million of them forced to flee their homes because of wars and conflicts, a new UNICEF report reveals. It also shows that children make up about half of all refugees around the world.
Frustration is the lifeblood of dictatorship, writes Jorge Eduardo Espinosa in Bogota-based El Espectador. The reference is to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who wants to revoke lawmakers' immunity from criminal prosecution. "Maduro has argued that opposition lawmakers are abusing their immunity to commit a range of offenses and abuses. And he's right: In a dictatorship like his, criticizing and acting in opposition to the existing power is an offense and an abuse. This is not Maduro's first such ploy against the opposition. Since taking their seats in parliament, he has repeatedly refused to recognize the mandate given them by millions of Venezuelans through the ballot box. Every day, it seems, he is prepared to go further."
Read the full article, Venezuela: Maduro Turns To Police Power To Silent Dissent.
MAN CONFESSES TO MURDERING CHILD, 27 YEARS LATER
Danny Heinrich, a 53-year-old man who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, confessed to abducting and killing 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling in Minnesota, almost 27 years later, The Star Tribune reports.
A low-intensity earthquake of magnitude 4.9 shook Tokyo earlier today, but there were no reports of casualties or damages, according to Reuters.
— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD
Shutterbug — Audincourt, 1960
ROUSSEFF LEAVES PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
Dilma Rousseff left the Palácio da Alvorada, the presidential residence in Brasilia, for the last time yesterday, less than a week after her impeachment. She was greeted by a group of supporters with flowers after she reached Porto Alegre, where she owns a house. According toFolha de S. Paulo, the ex-president will follow closely anti-impeachment protests scheduled for today, on Brazil's Independence Day, but is planning to rest for the next two weeks.
FIRST FACE TRANSPLANT PATIENT DIES
Isabelle Dinoire, a French woman known for being the first face transplant recipient 11 years ago, has died, Le Figaro reports. The drugs she had to take to prevent a transplant rejection put her at risk of developing cancer, which was the reported cause of death. She was 49.
MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH
- How The West Lost Syria — And Turkey Found Russia — Die Welt
- How One Family's Wine Saved A Remote Italian Island — La Stampa
- Hungry Gaza Farmers And The Price Of A New Year's Tomato In Israel — Calcalist
BAD TASTE POKEMON
Ten months after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, including 89 at the Bataclan concert hall, it is now possible to virtually "conquer" the tragic music landmark thanks to the latest distasteful twist to the augmented-reality mobile game Pokémon Go. Read more about it here.