Armenia Thanks Sweden For Genocide Recognition

President Serzh Sarkisian greets Goran Lennmarker (L), chairman of the Swedish parliament committee on foreign affairs, in Yerevan, 12 March 2010.

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s leaders thanked Sweden’s parliament on Friday for adopting a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

President Serzh Sarkisian hailed the development at a meeting with Goran Lennmarker, the visiting chairman of the Swedish parliament’s foreign affairs committee. He said “recognition of and condemnation of crimes against humanity is the best way to avert such crimes.”

Speaking to RFE/RL earlier in the day, Lennmarker endorsed the resolution which was opposed by the Swedish parliament but passed by a 131-130 vote. He said he would have voted for the measure had he not been absent from Stockholm during Thursday’s vote.

Lennmarker, who is better known in Armenia as the Nagorno-Karabakh rapporteur of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, visited on Thursday the Yerevan memorial to up to 1.5 million Armenians killed in what many historians consider a genocide.

Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian also welcomed the resolution strongly condemned by Ankara. “I think that with its historic decision Sweden’s parliament … will also contribute to peace and stability in the South Caucasus,” Abrahamian said in a letter to his Swedish counterpart, Per Westerberg.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned, meanwhile, that the Swedish vote “can hurt relations between Turkey and Armenia.” He appeared to refer to the fence-mending agreements signed by the two estranged nations last fall.

The Turks were already fuming over a similar resolution that was approved last week by a key committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Reuters news agency reported that Turkish parliamentary speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin said on Friday Western countries whose assemblies have passed such resolutions should “look in the mirror, if they want to find criminals.” He mentioned no specific country.

“Our ‘friend’ Sweden has stabbed us in the back with one vote!” read a front-page headline in “Sabah,” a leading Turkish daily.

Fatih Altayli, editor-in-chief of “Haberturk” daily cited by Reuters, was more sarcastic: “Soon, there will be no Turkish ambassadors left abroad and no foreign country our officials can visit.”


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