Turkey Reacts to Lithuania’s Passage of Armenian Genocide Legislation

(Turkish Daily News/RFE/RL)–Turkey harshly condemned Lithuanian parliament’s adoption–last week–of a resolution recognizing the 1915-1918 mass killings and deportations of Armenia’s in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

"We condemn this resolution that has no historic or legal basis," Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement released late Friday.

The Lithuanian legislature–known as the Seim–also urged Turkey on Thursday to "recognize historical facts" and drop its insistence that the massacres did not constitute a genocide.

The resolution was put forward by lawmakers representing center-right opposition parties and appears to have drawn no objections from the parliamentary majority. Reports from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius said its adoption was virtually unanimous–with 48 votes in favor–none against and three abstentions.

Turkey’s statement claimed that "political motives," secured the passage of the resolution. "Parliamen’s’ political assessmen’s about past events serve no purpose other than distorting historic facts. Parliamen’s have no task of making decisions concerning the controversial eras of history. Such decisions will not change historic facts. The evaluation of history should be left to historians," it added.

The parliamentary leader of Lithuania’s Liberal Party and main author of the resolution–Algis Kaseta–said the resolution was also co-sponsored by members of the foreign relations committee of parliament. "Most of them have close ties with the Foreign Ministry. I think they made a politically correct assessment of the situation and took this decision."

"This means the parliament and the government of Lithuania have a common view on this issue," Kaseta said.

The 1,000-strong Armenian community in Lithuania–according to its leader Aram Tunian–lobbied for the passage of the resolution. Tunian said the parliament’s foreign relations committee initially opposed it.

The Armenian genocide has also been recognized by the parliamen’s of several other European Union member states–including France–Italy–the Netherlands–Poland–and Greece. All of them were denounced by Turkey.

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