on the silk road

Armenian Apology Causes Brawl in Turkish Parliament

Turkish politicians from the Republican People’s Party and the ruling Ak Party fight during a debate last May in the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

Turkish politicians from the Republican People’s Party and the ruling Ak Party fight during a debate last May in the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

Asbarez.com is reporting that a Turkish parliament member’s request Sunday that the legislature apologize to Armenians for the “events of 1915” has caused an uproar in parliament, with members hurling personal insults at one another.

Democratic Society Party (DTP) member Osman Euzcelik brought the matter up during parliament’s discussion of the education ministry budget and went on to recall the Armenian massacres by using the Kurdish word that describes Genocide.

The remarks prompted a member of the ruling AKP party to walk toward DTP members and begin screaming at his fellow parliamentarians. Another parliament member intervened to stop what could have become a physical altercation.

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Genocide Recognition Still On Armenia Foreign Policy Agenda

YEREVAN–Armenia will continue to seek international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Armenia’s Foreign Minister said in a press conference on Friday. His statements come despite recent speculations by the US funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that president Serzh Sarkisian is ready to agree to the creation of a highly controversial Turkish-Armenian commission of historians to study the fact.

In what RFE/RL’s Armenia bureau has reported as an apparent policy change, Serzh Sarkisian indicated during a town hall meeting with the Russian Armenian Community this week that he was “not against” the Turkish proposal. But he made clear that the commission of historians can be set up only if Turkey agrees to unconditionally normalize relations with Armenia.

Sarkisian’s statement does not mean that Armenia will no longer work to have the Armenian Genocide recognized by foreign governments and parliaments, Foreign Minister Nalbandian said. 

“The genocide issue remains on our agenda,” he said. 

“Armenia has repeatedly stated and continues to state that we are ready to establish relations with Turkey without any preconditions,” said Nalbandian. “We are also ready to discuss all issues of interest to the two countries after the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border.”

In a press conference with journalists Friday, Sarkisian’s spokesman Samvel Farmanian explained that president’s position and policy on Armenian-Turkish relations are known and have not changed. 

He said, however, that Sarkisian is not against any study even of the obvious facts and widely recognized events, but such a study cannot call into question the reality of the facts.” He went on to say that the creation of such commission will make sense only after the Turkey establishes diplomatic relations and drops its blockade. 

Otherwise the entire venture may become another way for Turkey to distort the facts and postpone the normalization of relations, he said, stressing that there should be no closed borders in the 21st century, as they are detrimental to regional security and stability.

The idea of setting up such a commission was floated by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a 2005 letter to then Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Erdogan said its members should jointly determine whether the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.

Kocharian effectively rejected the idea by making a counterproposal to set up a Turkish-Armenian intergovernmental body that would deal with this and other issues of mutual concern.

Turkey cites Yerevan’s policy of Genocide recognition as one of the reasons why it keeps its border with Armenia closed and refuses to establish diplomatic relations with the latter. Ankara stubbornly denies the Genocide, saying that was a civil war and not part of a premeditated government effort to exterminate the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian minority.