On Wednesday the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that urges Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide. The resolution, which arrives one week before the commemoration of the mass slaughter on Armenians 100 years ago, has caused angry reactions from the Turkish government.
In the resolution the European Parliament referred to the mass killings on Armenians during World War I as genocide. Additionally it urged all EU-member states to recognize the genocide in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The European Parliament called on Turkey to ‘come to terms with its past, to recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus to pave the way for a genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.” It also calls upon Turkey to conduct an 'integrated inventory' into Armenian and other cultural heritage sites destroyed or ruined throughout the past century within its jurisdiction.
This is not the first time that the European Parliament has recognized the events as genocide, it did so previously for instance in 1987. The resolution could nevertheless cause serious diplomatic waves, since the Parliament further called upon Turkey to take concrete steps in regard to this issue. According to Avni Ozgurel, a Turkish political analyst, the resolution does not create any legal responsibilities for Turkey. ‘However, it is still an important resolution, which is likely to push Turkey to take on certain initiatives in the field of public diplomacy’, he stated.
The resolution might seriously damage diplomatic relations between Turkey and the EU. It has immediately led to angry reactions from Ankara. Turkey blamed the EU for taking a ‘selective and one-sided approach’. Even before the actual resolution was put to vote within the European Parliament, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the content of the resolution: ‘Whatever decision the European Parliament takes on Armenian genocide claims, it will go in one ear and come out of the other because it is not possible for Turkey to accept such a crime, such a sin,’ Erdogan said.
Right after the resolution was passed, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted with a statement calling it ‘inconsistent with international law’ and ‘exceeding the institution's jurisdiction’. ‘We don't take seriously this resolution that slaughters history and law,’ the statement said. Additionally the Ministry commented on the negative impact the resolution might have on diplomacy between the EU and Turkey. ‘This resolution has the potential to harm the relations between Turkey and EU and falls far behind from bringing a solution to the issue between Turkey and Armenia,’ the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated.
The qualification of the events within the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917 has been a delicate issue for Turkey for decades. Turkey has recognized that large numbers of Armenians have been killed during clashes with the Ottoman forces, but has so far always denied that this could be qualified as genocide.
The Armenian government welcomed the resolution and praised the European Parliament for sending ‘an important message’. ‘With this resolution, the European Parliament once again reaffirmed its commitment to protection of human rights and universal values, stated Armenia’s foreign minister Edward Nalbandian.