Call for ‘balance’ as EU MEPs set to vote on 1915 events
MEPs and the co-chairs of the Friends of Turkey Group have called for the adoption of a “balanced resolution” as the European Parliament prepares to vote on a draft resolution which recognizes the events in Armenia in 1915 as a “genocide”.
The European Parliament first recognized the 1915 events as a “genocide” in a 1987 resolution, which the parliament is set to recall in a vote on Wednesday – the centenary of the 1915 events.
Turkey has repeatedly rejected the EU’s definition of the event and pointed out that Armenians died during a relocation process in 1915.
The joint draft resolution to be voted on Wednesday states “the importance of keeping alive the memories of the past is paramount, since there can be no reconciliation without truth and remembrance”.
Wednesday’s vote comes a day after the European Union urged Turkey and Armenia to normalize their relations following a spat prompted by remarks made by Pope Francis over the 1915 events.
The co-chairs of the group in the European Parliament, which consists of MEPs from the Socialists & Democrats, the Greens and the Christian Democrats, said in a statement on Tuesday: “We would like to call upon the members of this chamber to adopt a balanced resolution.”
They said the pressure to recognize what has been termed a so-called Armenian Genocide “has not helped so far to bring reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. On the contrary, external interventions have fuelled reactionary nationalism and hindered dialogue”.
– ‘Free debate’
Artis Pabriks, MEP for the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and Ismail Ertug, MEP for the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament said in the statement: “In recent years, Turkey has started a more open and free debate on the Armenian issue.
“We should therefore encourage the Turkish government to continue its process of reconciliation allowing for a frank and open discussion of past events.”
The Friends of Turkey statement added: “EU accession negotiations have undoubtedly contributed to more honest and open discussions of historical events in Turkey.
“In this regard, the accession process remains the most effective tool in influencing Turkey’s democratization course.”
Maja Kocijancic, European Commission spokeswoman, said: “In the context of Turkey’s status as a (EU) candidate country we are following the issue of reconciliation and normalization of relations with Turkey.”
The joint draft resolution by the European Parliamanet “urges Turkey and Armenia to proceed to a normalisation of their relations by ratifying and implementing, without preconditions, the protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Resolution says normalization of relations can also be done “by opening the border and by actively improving their relations, with particular reference to cross-border cooperation and economic integration”.
– Ambassador recalled
Turkey and Armenia disagree on what happened during the events between 1915 and 1923, with Armenia saying that 1.5 million people were deliberately killed and Turkey saying the deaths were a result of deportations and civil strife.
Pope Francis said on Sunday that “the first ‘genocide’ of the 20th century struck Armenians”, a statement which triggered criticism from Turkey and led to Ankara recalling its ambassador in the Vatican and also summoning Vatican’s envoy in the Turkish capital.
The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted against the empire.
The Ottoman Empire relocated Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts and there were Armenian casualties during the relocation process.
Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.