Germany: Foreign ministry cancels controversial concert at consulate in Istanbul

11 November 2016

Germany’s foreign ministry cancelled a 13 November 2016 Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance of ‘Aghet’, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, scheduled to take place at the German consulate in Istanbul, reported Deutsche Welle on 25 October 2016.

The ministry said in a short message that “the whole consulate in Istanbul is not available on November 13” and that “the invitations were sent out without State Department approval”, reported Politiken on 1 November 2016. In advance of the performance, the orchestra had invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

“It’s definitely been cancelled,” orchestra director Markus Rindt told Reuters on 26 October 2016. “They said they wanted to reschedule at a better time, but when would that be? This has been planned for years.”

Tensions between Germany and Turkey
Earlier in April 2016, Turkey had demanded the European Commission pull its 200,000 Euros of funding from the symphony’s project as the country takes offense to the word “genocide”, denying that it conducted genocide against ethnic Armenians in 1915 during the end of the Ottoman Empire. It remains illegal in Turkey to refer to the events, which by some estimates are that 1.5 million Armenians died, as genocide.

Furthering tensions between the two nations, in June 2016, the German Bundestag, the country’s federal legislative body, passed a resolution to refer to the mass deaths as genocide.

Earlier in October 2016, Turkey also withdrew form the European Union’s cultural arms programme that has funded the orchestra’s project, reported Reuters.

Rindt’s ‘Aghet’ project began in November 2015 when he conceived of the idea to bring together Armenian, Turkish and German musicians to play a concert together to remember the events that happened 101 years ago and to act a symbol of reconciliation. “Aghet”, the Armenian word for “catastrophe”, has become synonymous with the genocide, and thus a controversial word.

Photo: Aghet project site


» Politiken – 1 November 2016:
Germany cancels memorial concert for Armenia in Istanbul

» Reuters – 26 October 2016:
Germany cancels Istanbul concert marking Armenian massacres

» Washington Post – 25 October 2016:
Germany nixes Armenian ‘genocide’ concert in Istanbul

» Deutsche Welle – 25 October 2016:
Berlin cancels Armenia genocide performance at Istanbul consulate

» Deutsche Welle – 6 June 2016:
Berlin rebuffs Turkey in Armenian genocide row after Green MP receives death threats

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» 29 April 2016: Germany: Turkey attempts to stop EU funding orchestra performance

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