British Foreign Office Rejects Turkish Parliament

–UK Ambassador to Ankara dismisses Turkish appeal to reconsider the ‘Blue Book’ on the Armenian genocide

LONDON–The British Ministry of Foreign Affairs–through its Ambassador to Turkey–Sir Peter Westmacott–has rejected a request by the Turkish Parliament to reconsider the "Blue Book," a 1916 parliamentary report–formally titled–"Treatment of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16," that documen’s the systematic–deliberate–and politically motivated nature of the Armenian genocide.

The Turkish Parliament sent a letter in April of 2005 claiming that the "Blue Book" was British propaganda fabricated to vilify Ottoman Turks and that its existence continues to harm Turkish interests today.

In his response–Sir Westmacott informed the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament that the "Blue Book" was drafted by the Parliament–not the government. He emphasized however–that contrary to the insinuations of the Turkish parliamentarians–"none of the individual reports [presented in the document] has been refuted," and that the moral and intellectual honesty of the authors–Lord Bryce and the prominent historian Arnold J. Toynbee may not be questioned.

Sir Westmacott’s words are significant because they represent a careful rejection of the Turkish position. His words were not an oversight but a warning to Turkish Parliamentarians that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) could engage the "Blue Book" issue if need be.

Sir Westmacott clearly chose to disagree with the two cardinal points of the Turkish letter when he pointed out that truth and propaganda are not necessarily mutually exclusive and do not appear to be so in the "Blue Book." He also stressed that Bryce and Toynbee remain in good standing–and their roles in formulating the "Blue Book" have not been seriously challenged–further suggesting that the British would be able to dispel Turkish criticism–if need be.

Finally–when making these statemen’s–Sir Westmacott did not give much credit to the Turkish letter’s offensive assertions about the "Blue Book." In fact his blanket rebuttal of Turkish criticisms could be viewed as a measure of the British government’s sentiment on the Turkish position.

The influential Brussels-based European Armenian Federation said it considers the letter by a senior representative of the United Kingdom a confirmation that its government acknowledges the Armenian genocide as an incontestable and thoroughly documented historical fact.

Westmacott’s reply–which was reported by the Gomidas Institute–an Armenian research group–comes to light the same week as a Belgian court ruling that Brussels State Secretary Emir Kir was a "denier" of the Armenian genocide. The court also found that this type of clear labeling of deniers serves the common good and advances the purposes established by Belgian law to penalize Armenian genocide denial.

Taken together–these two actions represent a major setback for Turkey’s campaign to spread its doctrine of denial in Europe. They also stand in stark contrast to former British Ambassador to Armenia–Thorda Abott-Watt’s misguided and historically inaccurate declaration in 2004 questioning the Armenian genocide.

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