Canadian Foreign Ministry Withdraws its Sponsorship of Turkish Conference

OTTAWA–The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has withdrawn its sponsorship of "Turkey in the World: Implications for Canada" one-day conference organized by the Turkish Canadian Advocacy Group and sponsored by DFAIT and the Turkish Embassy. The conference will take place on November 3 in Ottawa. One of the most disturbing aspects of the conference is a "special lecture" titled "History as a Present Day Problem: the Ottoman Armenian Question" to be delivered by Prof. Guenter Lewy, a well-known Armenian Genocide denier engaged in Turkish propaganda rather than in scholarly research. Prof. Lewy’s participation in a DFAIT sponsored conference is in conflict with the policies of the Canadian government and public pronouncemen’s of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs." Moreover, the conference included discussions on Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Caucuses issues without representation from those regions. Rather than make the conference an open and pluralistic forum conducted by academic, diplomatic and expert participation, organizers had handpicked panelists who are guaranteed to deliver the message the organizers wanted to hear. The withdrawal of DFAIT from the conference followed an October 23 letter by the Armenian National Committee of Canada to Minister MacKay and a presentation to DFAIT of the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community. The ANCC considers such a sponsorship morally and ethically unacceptable and at odds with Canadian values and what Canada stands for. "The conference and Prof. Lewy’s "headline" participation is an insult to the Canadian government, to the House of Commons and to Senate Members, to Quebec, Ontario and to British Columbia–the three provinces which recognize the Armenian Genocide as a historic fact," said Aris Babikian, executive director of ANCC. "The ANCC would like to take this opportunity to thank DFAIT and other political authorities for their understanding and valuable input in upholding the government’s principled stand on such important human rights issues as the Armenian Genocide," said Babikian.

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