Turkey Chides Canada Over Armenia Genocide Vote

Turkey Chides Canada Over Armenia Genocide Vote


By Gareth Jones

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey on Thursday condemned the Canadian
parliament’s decision to recognize the 1915 killing of Armenians by
Ottoman forces as genocide and warned of damage to bilateral ties.

Canada’s parliament voted 153-68 on Wednesday in support of a motion
classifying the events of 90 years ago as genocide, disregarding an
appeal from the Canadian government.

Armenians say some 1.5 million of their people were deliberately
slaughtered by Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923.

Turkey denies charges of genocide, saying Armenians were among victims
of a partisan war during World War One as the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
Ankara accuses Armenians of carrying out massacres while siding with
invading Russian troops.

“We strongly condemn the approval by Canada’s Federal Parliament of this
decision which follows (the pressure of) marginal groups despite our
objections,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“This decision will benefit neither Canadian Armenians nor Armenia.
Responsibility for all the negative consequences of this decision
belongs to the Canadian politicians,” it added.

The ministry did not say what these consequences might be, but Fazli
Corman, the Turkish embassy councillor in Ottawa, earlier cited the
example of Canadian companies seeking to sign contracts in Turkey.

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham said the motion would not alter
Ottawa’s official policy, that while the events of 1915 were a tragedy,
they did not constitute genocide.


Canada’s embassy in Ankara issued a statement calling for reconciliation
between Turks and Armenians. It also urged their governments to deal
with the issue of the alleged genocide and to work for greater stability
in their “volatile region.”

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations and their border is
closed because of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, a
territory populated by Christian Armenians but assigned to Muslim
Azerbaijan in Soviet times. Turkey has close linguistic and cultural
ties with oil-rich Azerbaijan.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry accused “narrow-minded Canadian politicians”
of fomenting ethnic and religious hatred between “people of different
ethnic backgrounds who live in peace.”

Earlier this week, Turkey also criticized a reference to the alleged
genocide on an Armenian monument unveiled in Poland. The word
“slandered” the Turkish nation, the Foreign Ministry said, and hurt
Turkey’s historically warm ties with Poland.

Parliaments in Russia, France and Switzerland, have also adopted motions
describing the events of 1915 as genocide.

Turkey froze official visits to France and temporarily blocked French
firms from entering lucrative defense contracts in 2001 after the French
parliament backed the Armenian case. France is home to Europe’s biggest
Armenian diaspora.

The U.S. Congress dropped a similar resolution in 2000 after the White
House warned it would harm U.S. security interests in the Middle East.

Turkey is a key NATO (news – web sites) ally guarding Europe’s
southeastern flank and its secular democracy is often held up by
Washington as an example to be emulated by the rest of the Muslim world.