Europarliament Rejects Genocide Recognition

STRASBOURG–France–During its plenary session earlier today–the European Parliament (EP) voted down four measures to include European calls for Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the annual report on the status of Turkey’s accession into the European Union–reported the Armenian National Committee of Europe (CDCA Europe).

By a vote of 271 to 149–European deputies rejected Amendment 12–a measure introduced by 45 deputies from the PSE–EPP and GUE political parties–stipulating that the EP "considers that the deepening of the dialogue on the question of the recognition of the genocide of which the Armenian community was a victim at the beginning of 20th century constitutes a significant stage of this normalization," referring to the relations between the Turkish and Armenian states and communities. Three other amendmen’s dealing with similar topics–including one proposed by the GUE and two by the UEN–were also rejected.

The October 24th debate on the Armenian Genocide amendmen’s included strong speeches by supporters–including Italian deputy Volcic (PSE)–who was clearly frustrated by Turkey’s ongoing denial of Genocide and urged the Turkish government to acknowledge this crime against humanity. Swede Sacredeus (EPP) stressed that it was impossible for the EP to forget the 1,500,000 victims of the Genocide. Other outspoken supporters of the amendment included Charles Pasqua–President of UEN–who noted that he considers Turkey responsible of the Armenian Genocide–as well as Mrs. Framme (GUE)–who recalled the deaths of both the Armenian and Pontian Greek population during the same period.

That same morning–the ANC of France organized a peaceful gathering of several hundred demonstrators in front of the European Parliament building. A delegation was received by Mr. Woodard–from the office of European Parliament President Mrs. Fontaine–who affirmed the President’s ongoing sympathy for Armenian Genocide recognition efforts. The delegation–which included Armenian community representatives from throughout France and Europe–stressed that–as a candidate to join the EU–Turkey should be reminded of the European model for reconciliation–which has as its cornerstone Germany’s acknowledgment of its past crimes.

"The ANC of Europe–along with all Armenia’s in Europe–the Diaspora and Armenia–regrets the European Parliament decision which has allowed the denial of the Armenian Genocide to play a role in the evolving EU/Turkey relationship," declared Hilda Tchoboian–President of the Armenian National Committee of Europe. "It is a defeat for human rights in Europe in the face of the exacerbated nationalism of Turkey’s ruling elite–which successfully imported its repression of free speech into the halls of the European Parliament," she continued.

"The final version of the report replaced calls for Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide with language supporting the initiatives of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission," explained Tchoboian. "It is regrettable that the Armenian members of this commission continue to be the instrument of Turkish denial in Europe and thus weaken the collective efforts of the Armenia’s of Europe." Tchoboian is referring to an October 10th amendment to the report which cites the European Parliament’s "support of a civil initiative launched by a group of former diplomats and academics from Turkey and Armenia–the aim of which is to arrive at a common understanding of the past; hopes that this initiative will contribute towards the normalization of relations between the two communities concerned."

"We would like to thank all the European Parliament deputies who spoke out and voted in support of the Armenian Genocide amendmen’s. The task was even more difficult given the tense atmosphere following the September 11th tragedy–the extraordinary safety measures–as well as the added political pressure placed upon parliament members by their own governmen’s," added Hilda Tchoboian. "In the upcoming months–we will continue our efforts to educate members of Parliament on the Armenian Genocide–clear up misconceptions propagated by Turkish authorities and urge deputies to include Armenian Genocide recognition at the earliest possible opportunity," concluded the President of the CDCA Europe.

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