Ar­me­nia marks cen­ten­nial of geno­cide

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - Reuters

Ar­me­nia marked the cen­te­nary on Fri­day of a mass killing of Ar­me­ni­ans by Ot­toman Turks with a sim­ple flower-lay­ing cer­e­mony at­tended by for­eign lead­ers as Ger­many be­came the lat­est coun­try to re­spond to its calls for recog­ni­tion that it was geno­cide.

Turkey de­nies the killing of up to 1.5 mil­lion Ar­me­ni­ans in what is now Turkey in 1915, at the height of World War One, con­sti­tutes geno­cide and re­la­tions with Ar­me­nia are still blighted by the dis­pute.

Par­lia­ment in Ger­many, Turkey’s big­gest trade part­ner in the Euro­pean Union, risked a diplo­matic rup­ture with Ankara and up­set­ting its own many eth­nic Turk­ish res­i­dents by join­ing the many West­ern schol­ars and two dozen coun­tries to use the word.

Its res­o­lu­tion, ap­proved over­whelm­ingly, marks a sig­nif­i­cant change of stance in a coun­try which has worked hard to come to terms with its re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mur­der of six mil­lion Jews in the Holo­caust.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Fri­day he “shared the pain” of Ar­me­ni­ans, but as re­cently as Thurs­day he again refuted the de­scrip­tion of the killings as geno­cide and has shown no sign of chang­ing his mind.

The French and Rus­sian pres­i­dents, Fran­cois Hol­lande and Vladimir Putin, were among guests who placed a yel­low car­na­tion in a wreath of for­get-menots at a hill­top me­mo­rial near the Ar­me­nian cap­i­tal Yere­van and led calls for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“Recog­ni­tion of the geno­cide is a tri­umph of hu­man con­science and jus­tice over in­tol­er­ance and ha­tred,” Ar­me­nian Pres­i­dent Serzh Sarksyan said in speech un­der grey skies, with many guests wrapped in coats or blan­kets.

In a speech at the cer­e­mony that was met by warm ap­plause, Hol­lande said a law adopted by France in 2001 on recog­ni­tion of the killings as geno­cide was “an act of truth”.

“France fights against re­vi­sion­ism and de­struc­tion of ev­i­dence, be­cause de­nial amounts to re­peat of mas­sacres,” he said, de­scrib­ing his own at­ten­dance as “a con­tri­bu­tion to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion”.

Putin warned that neofas­cism and na­tion­al­ism was on the rise in the world, ter­mi­nol­ogy he uses to de­scribe what Rus­sia re­gards as rad­i­cal el­e­ments in Ukraine, whose forces are try­ing to put down a re­bel­lion by pro-Rus­sian sep­a­ratists in the east.

“But re­mem­ber­ing the tragic events of the past years we must be op­ti­mistic about our fu­ture and be­lieve in the ideals of friend­ship … and mu­tual sup­port,” he said.

Peace Ac­cords drawn

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment also refers to the killing in 1915 as geno­cide, as did Pope Fran­cis this month,

With- prompt­ing Turkey to sum­mon the Vat­i­can’s en­voy and re­call its own.

Other coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States, have re­frained from do­ing so.

Pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim Turkey, which has no diplo­matic ties with Ar­me­nia, says many Chris­tian Ar­me­ni­ans were killed in par­ti­san fight­ing dur­ing the war but de­nies it amounted to geno­cide. It says there was no or­ga­nized cam­paign to wipe out Ar­me­ni­ans and no ev­i­dence of any such or­ders from the Ot­toman au­thor­i­ties.

In Fe­bru­ary, Ar­me­nia, a poor coun­try of 3.2 mil­lion that for decades was part of the Soviet Union, with­drew land­mark peace ac­cords with Turkey from par­lia­ment, set­ting back U.S.-backed ef­forts to bury a cen­tury of hos­til­ity be­tween the neigh­bors.

But Sarksyan said on Wed­nes­day he was ready to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions with Turkey, stat­ing that there should be no pre­con­di­tions in restart­ing the peace process and would not in­sist the Turks ac­cept they com­mit­ted geno­cide.

In an­other sign of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, Euro­pean Af­fairs Min­is­ter Volkan Bozkir at­tended a me­mo­rial ser­vice at the Ar­me­nian Pa­tri­ar­chate in Istanbul, the first time a Turk­ish gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial has taken part in com­mem­o­ra­tion events since 1916.

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