World Armenian Congress urges British envoy’s expulsion re Genocide

World Armenian Congress urges British envoy’s expulsion over genocide remarks

Azg, Yerevan
23 Mar 04

Text of unattributed report by Armenian newspaper Azg on 23 March
headlined “The World Armenian Congress criticizes the British

The World Armenian Congress resolutely condemns the statement of the
British ambassador to Armenia, Miss Thorda Abbott-Watt, regarding the
Armenian genocide in Turkey, which insults the entire Armenian
nation. Refusing to give an appropriate international legal evaluation
of the premeditated massacre of 1.5m Armenians in Turkey at the
beginning of the 20th century, the British ambassador thought it
expedient to describe the events as an “atrocity”. Miss Abbott-Watt
explained her position by saying that the recognition of the events as
genocide would “not be very useful”.

The ambassador’s position is absolutely different from Britain’s
official stance on the Armenian genocide. The British government was
one of the pioneers in giving a clear political and international
assessment of the 1915 attempt to exterminate the Armenian population
(in Ottoman Turkey). The British government stated that those events
were a “crime against humanity and civilization”. On behalf of Lloyd
George, Lord Kerson, Winston Churchill and other leading British
officials, Britain described the Armenian genocide as the killing of
an entire nation, for which the Turkish government should bear full
political and international legal responsibility.

The international community has recognized the fact of genocide and
the Turkish state should have borne political responsibility for it
when the crime was being committed. The position of Britain’s official
representative in Armenia is not only an insult to the historical
memory of the entire Armenian nation, but can and should be viewed as
incitement to the crime of genocide under the UN Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Approved and
proposed for signature and ratification or accession by General
Assembly resolution 260 A (III) of 9 December 1948; entry into force
12 January 1951; Article 3).

The ambassador’s opinion that the recognition of the genocide will not
promote Turkish-Armenian relations is not only false, but also
politically harmful. This stance actually suggests committing new
acts of genocide. It is difficult to imagine that the British
ambassador would risk to come up with a similar declaration regarding
the Jewish Holocaust. Apparently, the British government finds that
similar offensive declarations are tolerable in Armenia and that the
Armenian authorities would not dare to protect their legal rights and

The Armenians all over the world regard the British diplomat’s
behaviour as intolerable. It deserves an appropriate moral, legal and
political assessment. We demand that Miss Abbott-Watt’s behaviour be
qualified as incompatible with the status of Britain’s official
representative in Armenia. We demand that the Armenian government
declares her persona non grata in the country and immediately expels
her from Armenia. Miss Abbott-Watt cannot represent the interests of
her state in the country as she has insulted the feelings of its
people. We hope that the government of Armenia will not give way to
political terrorism and will display its willpower and act in line
with its principles. This is what the independent rights and interests
of the Armenian nation require. At the same time, this demand fully
corresponds to international legal norms. The World Armenian Congress
believes that the condemnation of the Armenian genocide in line with
international law will only help prevent similar crimes from recurring
and will promote the establishment of new relations between the two
neighbouring nations and states [Armenia and Turkey].

[Signed] Ara Abramyan, chairman of the World Armenian Congress, 22
March 2004.