(RFE/RL)–Lech Walesa–Poland’s former president and a Nobel Peace Prize winner–made on Thursday an emotional case for the recognition by Turkey of the 1915 genocide of Armenia’s–saying it should be a precondition for Ankara’s accession to the European Union. Walesa was addressing an international conference devoted the upcoming 90th anniversary of the start of the mass killings and deportations of Armenia’s in Ottoman Turkey. His visit came just two days after Poland became the ninth EU country to officially describe the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenia’s as a genocide.
"The massacres of Armenia’s in Turkey were the first genocide of the 20th century," Walesa declared in a speech in Yerevan. "Armenia is justly demanding that the recognition of the Armenian genocide be a precondition for Turkey’s membership in the European Union," he said. "Without a universal acceptance of historical justice–we can not meet the challenges of the contemporary world."
"The massacres of Armenia’s were started by the bloodthirsty [Ottoman] Sultan Abdul Hamid II," Walesa said in his speech. "In 1915–the Turkish government ordered the slaughter of Armenian intellectuals and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s that either starved to death or were brutally killed by Turkish soldiers and Kurdish bandits."
"If I or anyone else forget that crime–then let God forget us," he added.