Armenia Hails Swiss Recognition of Armenian Genocide

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia on Wednesday welcomed the Swiss parliament’s recognition of the 1915 genocide of some 1.5 million Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire amid an anticipated angry reaction to the move from Turkey.

"By so doing–Switzerland is paying its respects to the memory of the millions of Armenia’s who fell victim to the Genocide committed in the Ottoman Empire–reminding humanity that there are no time limits on crimes against humanity–and supporting the struggle against denial," Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian said in a written statement.

"The recognition is the result of the years-long efforts by Swiss political and public figures–historians and attorneys–certain intellectuals–as well as Swiss-Armenian organizations," the statement said–referring to a resolution adopted by Swiss lawmakers on Tuesday.

Proponents of the resolution presented it as "a sign of justice toward the victims and the survivors" of mass killings and deportations of Ottoman Turkey’s virtually entire Armenian population. Armenian groups in Switzerland and the United States were quick to commend the Swiss parliament.

The resolution–which brought to 15 the number of countries that have recognized the tragedy–was strongly condemned by Turkey which continues to deny that the massacres were part of premeditated efforts by Ottoman rulers to exterminate their Armenian subjects. The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Switzerland’s ambassador in Ankara to protest the move and warn Bern of unspecified "negative consequences" on bilateral relations.

Ankara has previously denounced the Armenian government for encouraging similar measures by other Western parliamen’s and demanded that Yerevan renounce its support for international recognition of the genocide.

Gasparian expressed hope that the Swiss vote will not scuttle recent efforts by the Armenian and Turkish governmen’s to normalize their strained relations. "The international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a distinct process–and we would not want it to be linked to the existing Armenian-Turkish dialogue," he said.


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