15 April 2015
For immediate release – Today, April 15, the European Parliament voted, by an overwhelming majority, to adopt a resolution to formally “join the commemoration of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide in a spirit of European, solidarity and justice.” With the resolution, Europe’s elected representatives have joined the worldwide commemorations that will culminate on April 24.
The vote followed a debate unprecedented in its length and in its number of speakers. The acting chairman, Mr Graf Lambsdorff, concluded the debate by congratulating his colleagues of all parties for the dignity and quality of the discussion. In the course of the debate, the majority of the representatives emphasized the need to commemorate and designate the events of 1915 as genocide. A similar majority emphasized that its support for the resolution should not be interpreted as a sign of hostility toward Turkey.
Said Nicolas Tavitian, director of the Armenian General Benevolent Union – Europe (AGBU Europe), an Armenian non-profit: “It was essential that our European institutions mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide. As many members of the European Parliament have said, when it comes to events of such magnitude as genocide, erasing our collective memory is not an option. Today, our elected representatives have spoken with dignity and clarity. They have stood by a Europe of values. I am proud to be European.”
The resolution also called on the two other key European Union institutions, the European Union Council and European Union Commission, to join the centenary commemorations. Their representatives in Parliament—Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva of the Commission and Latvian Minister Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica of the Council—refrained from stating on the record that their institutions would join the commemorations of the centenary. At the insistence of several members of European Parliament, Commissioner Georgieva agreed that she would “convey back in the Commission the spirit of this debate and the call [it has] already made on us.” For her part, Minister Kalnina-Lukasevica responded to the European Parliament’s invitation by referring to “diverging opinion between EU member states on the characterization of the events” and the need to be “forward looking.”
Speaking in Parliament, Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE), one of the initial sponsors of the resolution, expressed a widely held view when he said: “this question is first, and emphatically, European; it concerns the past and its truths. It concerns the future and its promise. This centenary requires a dignified attitude; I thank the Parliament for this.”
In the resolution, the Parliament also “encourages [using] the commemoration of the 100 years of the Armenian Genocide as an important opportunity for Turkey to continue its efforts to come to terms with its past [and] to recognize the Armenian Genocide” and calls for the establishment of an international day for the commemoration of genocides.
AGBU Europe has been campaigning for a number of years for the commemoration of the genocide at European level and has helped advise members of Parliament working on this resolution. The organization partners with the European Grassroots Anti-racist Movement (EGAM) and with civil society groups in Turkey, particularly DurDe! And IHD. It has been taking part in annual genocide commemorations in Istanbul since 2013. The Paris-based “Solidarity Europe Liberté”, a think-tank dedicated to European affairs and its director, Catherine Mouradian, has also played a key rôle in recent work towards a commemoration in the European Parliament.
AGBU Europe also welcomes the adoption, immediately following the vote on the Resolution on the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, of another resolution on “EU recognition of the memorial day of the Roma genocide during WW II” and International Roma day.
AGBU Europe is the European district of the international Armenian organization AGBU. Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 400,000 Armenians around the world. AGBU Europe is the European chapter of the organization. It runs numerous programs in fields relating to academic research, the preservation and promotion of architectural heritage, education and culture as well as awareness raising.
The text of the draft resolution is available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/texts-submitted.html?tabType=motions#banner_session_live
Only amendments 1 and 6 were adopted.
Debates can be viewed online at:
Nicolas TavitianAGBU Europe
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