Bulgaria’s Opposition Walks Out over Genocide

SOFIA, Bulgaria–Bulgaria’s opposition boycotted the parliamentary session on Wednesday after the majority refused to debate the recognition of the Armenian genocide during the Ottoman Empire. The draft, whose discussion was not included on the Parliament’s agenda, was tabled by the ultra nationalist party Ataka. The majority claimed such a motion had already been rejected by the 40th National Assembly. "The votes of the ethnic Turkish party are very valuable for you as they help you to support your government. That is why you do not want to admit there was an Armenian genocide," the Deputy Chairwoman of the opposition right-wing Democrats for Strong Bulgaria Ekaterina Mihaylova said. The position of the government is not acceptable, neither morally or politically, since the people of Bulgaria favor recognition of the Genocide, said a spokesperson for the Armenian community of Bulgaria, adding that We expect that the government will move forward and recognize the Genocide. The European Armenian Federation called on the European Parliament and the parliamen’s of 11 member states that have recognized the Genocide to call on the Bulgarian parliament to reverse its course. We condemn the shameful position of the government in Sofia for sacrificing the moral consensus in Bulgaria for its alliance of circumstance with the Turkish extremist party, said European Armenian Federation Executive Director Laurent Leylekian. Bulgarias example clearly demonstrates that wherever Turkey advances democracy retreats. In light of this example, who can reasonably expect that our liberties and security will be guaranteed when Ankara joins the EU? added Leylekian. The Bulgarian Parliament honored the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide with a moment of silence when it convened for its April 24 plenary meeting, after a proposal made by the Parliament Chairman Georgi Pirinski, Focus News Agency informed. Several parliament members came out in favor of adopting a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, but these calls were opposed by Bulgarias ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Member of Parliament Rupen Kirkoryan, who is on the ticket of Simeon II National Movement (SIINM), suggested that the memory of the killed Armenian citizens be honored with a minute of silence. When the Parliament fell silent, all MRF representatives demonstratively left the room. Their act enraged the opposition and Boyko Vatev from the Bulgarian National Union said that it was about time the Bulgarian Parliament adopted a declaration condemning the Armenian genocide. Vatev said adoption of such a declaration and Turkeys possible decision to reread the events of the 19th and 20th century would introduce a European climate in the bilateral relationships between Bulgaria and Turkey. It would also help Turkey advance in its EU accession plans. The leader of nationalists Ataka (Attack) urged the parliament to officially recognize the events in Armenia as Genocide just as nine European countries have already done. This genocide has to be accepted by the Bulgarian Parliament, but I doubt that the majority would do so, Siderov said. There is a party in the ruling majority that protects the interests of Turkey and this party is MRF, he added. The representatives of this party are not here and did not honor the memory of a million and a half Armenia’s. MRF deputy-head Lyutvi Mestan tried to move the subject with a suggestion for a declaration showing compassion with the tragedy of all nations and groups of people that had been victims of violence. Mestan said that Bulgarias Parliament had no right to assume the powers of an institution that gives away historical evaluations of events that havent received consensus and categorical evaluation from historians.

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