Italian Parliament Recognizes Genocide

* Concludes Three-Year Campaign by ANC-Italy and the Armenian Community of Italy

WASHINGTON–The Italian Parliament Friday overwhelming approved legislation calling on the Turkish government to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)

The resolution–which mirrors an amendment adopted by the European Parliament just two days ago–reads–in part–as follows:

"[The Italian Parliament] invites the government of Turkey and the Grand Assembly of Turkey to increase its support for the Armenian minority — which represents an important part of Turkish society — particularly through public recognition of the genocide which the Armenian minority was subject to prior to the establishment of the modern Turkish state."

The resolution also urges the Turkish Government to "start a dialogue with Armenia in an effort–particularly–to re-establish diplomatic and normal commercial relations between the two parties and lift the blockade currently in place."

"The success of this effort–in the face of intense pressure from the Turkish government–represents a real tribute to the devotion of the Italian government and people to fairness–human rights–and justice," explained ANC of Italy representative Alecco Bezikian.

The measure was introduced by Parliamentarian Giancarlo Pagliarini–and received vocal support from Parliamentarian Gustavo Selva–the Forza Italia–National Alliance–Northern League–Christian Democrat and Socialist parties. The fifty-five minute debate leading to the hand-count vote was uniformly in favor of the resolution–reflecting wide-spread support by all parts of the Italian political spectrum. The Communist party–which had called for an even more strongly worded resolution–withheld its support for the version ultimately adopted by the Parliament.

"We welcome the Italian Parliament’s overwhelming support for ending Turkey’s Armenian Genocide denial campaign," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA. "This resolution–the powerful statement by Pope John Paul II–and the recently adopted decisions of the French Senate and European Parliament all point to one conclusion – the Turkish government must abandon its failed policy of Armenian Genocide denial and come to terms with the contemporary implications of this crime against the Armenian nation."

Passage of the resolution concludes a three year campaign to educate Italian legislators and the Italian public about Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide. The effort was launched by the Armenian National Committee and Armenian Revolutionary Federation chapters of Italy working with a broad based coalition of Armenian individuals and organization. The Armenian Ambassador to Italy–Gagik Baghdasarian–was regularly consulted and served as a valuable resource for the community in this effort.

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