EU parliament urges Turkey to recognise ’Armenian genocide’
BRUSSELS / ANKARA
Reuters photoThe European Parliament on April 15 urged Turkey to use the centenary of Ottoman-era massacres to “recognize the Armenian genocide” and help promote reconciliation between the two peoples, infuriating Ankara.
The parliament voted “by a wide majority,” according to the session chair, in favour of the resolution as tension grows over the characterization of the tragedy ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 killings of Armenians during World War I.
The parliament said it welcomed as a “step in the right direction” remarks by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others “offering condolences and recognizing atrocities against the Ottoman Armenians.”
Turkey is seeking to become a member of the European Union but its accession talks have stalled amid EU misgivings over Ankara’s human rights record and civil society reforms sought by Brussels.
The latest resolution does not put Turkish recognition of the genocide as a pre-condition before Turkey’s accession process for full membership.
Urging Ankara to go further, the resolution “encourages Turkey” to use the anniversary “to recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.”
It also called on Ankara to open “archives and come to terms with its past” while inviting “Armenia and Turkey to use examples of successful reconciliation between European nations.”
In 1987, the European Parliament described the killings as a “genocide.”
Bulgaria’s European Commission vice-president, Kristalina Georgieva, told the parliament the EU “fully acknowledges the significance of the upcoming commemoration as well as the divergence of views over this tragedy.”
As a member of the EU executive that deals with Turkey, she steered clear of using the word genocide herself.
“Regardless of the words we use to describe those awful events, there can be no denial of their awful reality,” Georgieva said.
Armenia and Armenians in the diaspora say 1.5 million were killed by Ottoman forces in a targeted campaign to eradicate the Armenian people from what is now eastern Turkey.
Turkey takes a sharply different view, saying hundreds of thousands of both Turks and Armenians lost their lives as Ottoman forces battled the Russian Empire for control of eastern Anatolia during World War I.
‘Religious, cultural fanaticism’
Ahead of the vote, Erdoğan said Turkey would ignore the resolution, adding “it would go in one ear and out from the other.”
“This resolution cannot merely be explained away by either lack of knowledge or ignorance. Unfortunately, what lies behind is a religious and cultural fanaticism and indifference toward others regarded as different,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement minutes after the adoption of the resolution at the European Parliament.
“This aspiration resulted in a preposterous text of resolution dated April 15, 2015, which literally repeats the anti-Turkish clichés of Armenian propaganda,” read the statement.
“With this resolution, the European Parliament repeated exactly a mistake it has made in the past in an incompatible way with international law and exceeding its competence,” the ministry said. “Those who adopted this text may perhaps recall that the EU was established on the pillars of reconciliation and peace culture, and on the basis of the principles such as democracy, human rights and free market economy.”
Warning about relations
Accusing politicians who voted in favor of the resolution of feeding on hatred, revenge and a culture of conflict, the ministry warned the parliament that the vote brought about the potential to harm relations between Turkey and the EU and would not bring about a solution to the issue between Turkey and Armenia.
“If the European Parliament wishes to contribute to building a common future for European peoples, it should realize that this cannot be achieved by excluding different religions and cultures. As for the 1915 events, it is evident that Turkey has assiduously fulfilled its duty with regards to memory. We hope that Armenia also achieves such a level of maturity as soon as possible,” the statement said.
“Members of the European Parliament may better encounter their own past and remember especially their roles and responsibilities in the most abhorrent calamities of humanity such as World War I and World War II, well before dealing with the 1915 issue,” it concluded.