BRUSSELS—Members of the Chamber of Deputies (Parliament) of Belgium with an overwhelming majority on Thursday voted for the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
After a passionate debate a day earlier during the plenary session, where all party representatives in their speeches condemned the Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey and stressed the need for Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and with Thursday’s resolution, Belgium’s both Parliaments (Senate, 1998) and the federal government (June 2015) have now recognized the Armenian Genocide. The Flemish Parliament also recognized the Armenian Genocide on April 22.
Member of Parliament Peter De Roover was the first to speak. He showed his solidarity with the Armenian people, by wearing the ‘forget-me-not’ commemorative pin of the centenary of the Genocide. He called on the Turkish authorities to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to stop the denial policy. Member of Parliament Stephane Crusnière of the Socialist Party said that his party has always recognized the Armenian Genocide.
Member of Parliament Denis Ducarme (MR) mentioned the fact that from this very podium on June 18th the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel recognized the Armenian Genocide in the name of the Belgian government. Member of Parliament Sarah Claerhout noted that this resolution is a call to Turkey to intensify its efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide; Member of Parliament Benoit Helling in his turn, reminded that there is a historic consensus on the issue and a political recognition is needed, as well.
In remarks on the floor, Member of Parliament Dallemagne presented a lengthy historical overview of the Genocide against the Armenians and the rest of minorities of the Ottoman Empire. He also reminded the fact that genocides are still going on today, 100 years after Armenians were butchered. Another parliament member Jan Penris called on the Turkish government to recognize the reality of the Armenian Genocide, while another legislator, Olivier Maingain, said that it’s time to be brave and recognize the crime of Genocide against Armenians, he also mentioned Jean Jaures, Orhan Pamuk, and Hrant Dink.
Parliament member Marco Van Hees said that Turkish leftist, progressive parties recognize the Armenian Genocide and believe this is the way forward. He also mentioned, that by doing so, Belgium will gain credibility. Another parliament member, Dirk Van Der Maelen, stressed the need to be precise and use the proper terminology and include all victims of Genocides.
During the debate there were calls that this resolution will assist in the dialogue between Turks and Armenians as well as this resolution is in support to the progressive, democratic forces in Turkey. It was repeatedly said that this resolution is not against the current Turkish people, but against the Turkish state denial policy.
“We welcome this resolution in the Chamber today, by which the Belgian state recognizes the Armenian Genocide by its government and both chambers of the parliament,” said Kaspar Karampetian, president of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD). ‘On the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, we have seen more and more countries recognizing the historic fact of the Genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey. This is another clear message to Turkey that Genocide denial has no place in Europe and Turkey needs to reconcile with its past sooner or later. This resolution of the Belgian Chamber will also put an end to the denial rhetoric in Belgium,” noted Karampetian, and concluded saying, that this resolution was also in part the result of well-coordinated efforts of the Republic of Armenia Embassy, the Armenian National Committee of Belgium, as well as the Committee of Armenians of Belgium and AGBU Europe.
An overwhelming majority of historians as well as academics on Holocaust and Genocide Studies recognize the Armenian Genocide. As of today, the governments of 28 countries, including Russia, Brazil, France, Austria and Canada as well as 43 states of the USA have recognized the Genocide. The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan continue to deny the Armenian Genocide.