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Recognition of Armenian Genocide by Sweden

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Armenia Thanks Sweden For Genocide Recognition

Ruben Meloyan

Armenia’s leaders thanked Sweden’s parliament on Friday for adopting a resolution that recognizes the World War One-era mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as 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.”

Swedish, Turkish Leaders Denounce Armenian Genocide Vote

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Sweden condemned on Saturday a vote in the Swedish parliament that defined the early 20th-century killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who was holding informal talks with foreign ministers including Turkey's Ahmet Davutoglu in northern Finland, said he was upset by the vote on Thursday and concerned it could affect Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.

"It's regrettable because I think the politicization of history serves no useful purpose," he told reporters. "We are interested in the business of reconciliation, and decisions like that tend to raise tensions rather than lower tensions," he said.

On March 13, Swedish Prime Minister Frederick Reinfeldt apologized to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the resolution passed by the Swedish Parliament recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported Hurriyet Daily News.

According to a statement issued by Erdogan’s office, Reinfeldt said, “The government is absolutely against the resolution, which was ratified as a result of domestic policy, and it will have no sanction or exercise power.” He added that Sweden will not allow the resolution to affect relations will Turkey.

Foreign Ministry report:

"An official statement and recognition of the Genocide of the Armenians is important and necessary. In 1985 the UN and the European Parliament established the fact that the Ottoman Empire had committed genocide against the Armenian people in the beginning of the 20th century. The Standing Committee [on Foreign Affairs] is of the opinion that the greater openness Turkey demonstrates, the stronger Turkey's democratic identity will be. It is therefore important that unbiased independent and international research on the genocide committed against the Armenian people be carried out. It is of great importance that an increasing openness and historical understanding of the events of 1915 and thereafter be developed. An improvement in this respect would also be of importance for the stability and the development in the whole Caucasus region."

-March 29, 2000