Briner Sets Record Straight

Swiss Senate Ready to Tackle Genocide Question

On August 6–Swiss media outlet Swissinfo published an article titled "Swiss Senate Washes Hands of ‘Genocide’ Question," in which they cited president of the Senate foreign-affairs committee Peter Briner as saying that "Turkey’s massacre of Armenia’s in 1915 will never be an issue for the Swiss Senate." [ed. The article appeared in Asbarez on August 9–2005.]

Last week–Swissinfo published a follow-up article in which Briner said that his commen’s were misquoted–denying that he ever said that Turkey’s massacre of Armenia’s would not be debated in the chamber.

"Those reports are based on either a misquote or a misunderstanding–and this is of course most regrettable. What I did say was that when the Swiss House of Representatives had [voted to] recognize the genocide–this was not an issue in the Senate," Briner–a member of the center-right Radical Party–told Swissinfo. "The policy of our government–and the Senate foreign-affairs committee–is that the two countries involved–Turkey and Armenia–should investigate the terrible events of 1915 with a committee of historians from both sides."

The Swiss House of Representatives recognized the death of up to 1.8 million Armenia’s as genocide in 2003. But unlike many western governmen’s–the Swiss government does not officially speak of "genocide" but of "mass deportation" and "massacre."

"I think that the position of our government is the better one. I don’t feel comfortable being the judge of the whole world and of something that happened a long time ago," said Briner–when asked why the Senate wouldn’t recognize the Genocide as other Western countries have. "These are evidently terrible events and I think that they should be investigated–but they should be primarily investigated by the parties involved."

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