Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Friend or foe of the Armenian people?

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 7, 2015

Armenian Genocide recognition refers to the formal acceptance that the massacre and forced deportation of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire in 1915–1923 constitutes genocide. The overwhelming majority of historians as well as academic institutions on Holocaust and Genocide Studies recognize the Armenian Genocide.

International organizations officially recognising the Armenian Genocide include: European Parliament, Council of Europe, World Council of Churches, Human Rights Association (Turkey), European Alliance of YMCAs, Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, and Mercosur. As of 2014, the governments of 22 countries, including Russia, France, have recognized the events as ‘genocide’.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day or Armenian Genocide memorial day, is a national holiday in Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and is observed by the Armenian diaspora on April 24, the day when thousands of the Armenian community leaders of Constantinople (now Istanbul) were deported and mostly executed.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is held annually to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, hundreds of thousands of people walk to the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial to lay flowers at the eternal flame. The 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be commemorated on April 24, 2015.

The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny the Armenian genocide, and this year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by a cynical decision has sent invitations to more than 102 heads of states, including the president of Armenia, Serge Sarkisian, to attend commemoration ceremonies marking the centennial of the World War I Gallipoli campaign on April 24. According to Hurriyet Daily, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has also sent invitation letters to his counterparts.

In a strongly worded letter Sarkisian on Jan. 16 responded to Erdogan’s invitation to Turkey, reminding his earlier invitation to visit Yerevan on the same day – April 24 – when the Armenians of the world together with the international community will be marking the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

“Turkey continues its conventional denial policy and is perfecting its instrumentation for distorting history. This time, Turkey is marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli on April 24, even though the battle began on March 18, 1915 and lasted until late January 1916, while the Allies’ operation started on April 25,” wrote Sarkisian, adding, “What is the purpose [of this] if not to distract the world’s attention from the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide?”

The leaders of the world’s superpowers are unlikely to participate in the Battle of Gallipoli centenary events, but the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Albania, Somali, the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand and Prince Charles have accepted Erdogan’s invitation to participate in the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli planned for April 24. Another 38 countries have accepted the invitation, but have not indicated at what level they will be represented at the event.

The US

The White House has not made any statement regarding the April travel plans of President Obama, but it is difficult to imagine US President Barack Obama, who although still says “Meds Yeghern” (Great Calamity) instead of [Armenian] Genocide attending the “April 24 circus” which the Turkish president has organized at the Dardanelles.

Several US official documents describe the events as “genocide” (1975, 1984, 1996), and president Ronald Reagan described the events as “genocide” in his speech on April 22, 1981. The total of 43 of the 50 US states have made individual proclamations recognising the events of 1915 to 1923 as genocide.

On January 19, 2008 U.S. Senator Barack Obama released a statement: “Two years ago, I criticized the Secretary of State for the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, after he properly used the term ‘genocide’ to describe Turkey’s slaughter of thousands of Armenians starting in 1915. I shared with Secretary Rice my firmly held conviction that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide”.

The proposed Armenian Genocide resolution is a measure currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives that would recognize the 1915 Genocide. It is officially called H. Res 106 or the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

The resolution was introduced by Adam Schiff (a Democratic Party Representative for California) on January 30, 2007, during the 110th United States Congress.

It is a non-binding resolution of the House alone, calling upon the U.S. President “ to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide, and for other purposes.”

“The Armenian Genocide resolution is a proper test for American democracy. It will uncover priorities of the United States – good relations with Turkey or historical truth”, Russian State Duma member, Konstantin Zatulin told a news conference in Yerevan on 21 October 2007.

According to the Washington Post, to defeat the initiative for the resolution, the Turkish government “is spending more than $300,000 a month on communications specialists and high-powered lobbyists, including former congressman Bob Livingston”.

Since becoming president he has retreated from those statements, stating only that his opinion has not changed but refusing to use the word genocide. Despite his previous public recognition and support of genocide bills, as well as the election campaign promises to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, Obama has thus far abstained from using the term “genocide”.

On March 4, 2010 the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution describing the killing of Armenians by Turkish forces during World War I as genocide.

The resolution was approved by 23 votes to 22 by the committee and “calls on President Barack Obama to ensure that U.S. foreign policy reflects an understanding of the ‘genocide’ and to label the World War I killings as such in his annual statement on the issue”.

However, president Barack Obama “once again” broke his promise and retreated from officially recognizing the genocide of 1.4 million Armenians by the Turkish government in 1915-18 on the “Armenian Remembrance Day” April 24, 2014

Reacting to this, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, “It’s a sad spectacle to see our President, who came into office having promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide, reduced to enforcing a foreign government’s gag-rule on what our country can say about a genocide so very thoroughly documented in our own nation’s archives.”

The UK

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have formally recognised the Armenian genocide. However the position of the Westminster government in 2007 was that it condemns the massacres, but did not find them qualified enough under 1948 UN Convention on Genocide to call them genocide and did not believe the UN Convention rules could be applied retroactively. In 2000, an Early Day Motion recognising the Armenian Genocide by the UK Parliament was signed by 185 MPs.

In 2009 the lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC revealed in a disclosure of Foreign Office documents entitled “Was there an Armenian Genocide?”, how the British Parliament has routinely been misinformed and misled by ministers who have recited FCO briefs without questioning their accuracy.

A 1999 Foreign Office briefing for ministers said that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide would provide no practical benefit to the UK and goes on to say that “The current line is the only feasible option” owing to “the importance of our relations (political, strategic and commercial) with Turkey”.

The Foreign Office documents furthermore include advice from 1995 to the then Tory foreign minister, Douglas Hogg, that he should refuse to attend a memorial service for the victims of the genocide.

The UK’s Ambassador to Armenia Katherine Leach told reporters in Yerevan on Friday that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected an invitation to join commemorations of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan on April 24.

Cameron will likely visit Turkey on April 24 to join commemorations of the Battle of Gallipoli, which Turkish officials have decided to mark on April 24 this year for the first time, ostensibly in an attempt to derail commemorations of the Armenian Genocide.

Australia

Australia is one of the countries who were in war against the Ottoman Empire at the time of the events, notably during the Gallipoli Campaign. Australia does acknowledge the tragic events had devastating effects on the identity, heritage, and culture of all the people in the areas that the events have occurred, but does not view the events at the end of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.

Furthermore, in response to the motions of New South Wales and South Australia to recognize the events as genocide the Foreign Minister of Australia has clarified on June 4, 2014, that Australian states and territories have no constitutional role in the formulation of the Australian foreign policy, and that Australia does not view the tragic events at the end of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide.

Israel

As Jews, we must recognize the suffering of the Armenian people, even if we do not blame anyone, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday at a plenum discussion of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

“This discussion does not blame any modern country, rather it shows that we identify with the victims of the massacre and its terrible outcome,” he said.

“We are not placing blame; we are acting like Jews and being faithful to the truth and the suffering of another people,” Edelstein continued. “We cannot deny history and hold back human values out of diplomatic or political caution.”

He spoke in response to a motion to the agenda by Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, calling for the government to recognize the Armenian Genocide before its 100th anniversary next year.

However, officially Israel neither recognizes nor denies the Armenian Genocide. Some MK’s feel that recognition of a genocide would jeopardize Israeli-Azerbaijan and Israeli-Turkish relations.

In 2015, Rafael Harpaz, Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, said in an interview that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has made it clear that Israel will not recognize the Armenian genocide, given Israel’s hopes that its political and economic relationship with Turkey can improve.

“There are enough common interests and issues in the world for us to cooperate. I would like to take an example of Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines is the biggest foreign airline which is active in Israel. Istanbul is the biggest hub for Israelis. The same goes for tourism, trade which is up. We hope that our political relations with Turkey will improve,” Harpaz said.

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