Dutch parliament recognises Armenian killings as genocide

23.02.2018

The Dutch parliament on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution recognising the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide.

Three lawmakers voted against the resolution; 142 were in favour.

Turkey "fiercely" condemned the move, saying it has "no legal binding character or validity," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday evening.

Turkey accused the Netherlands instead of turning a blind eye to the genocide of Muslim Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb troops that took place in Srebrenica during the Bosnian War in 1995.

Dutch UN peacekeepers had surrendered the enclave to the Bosnian Serbs without firing a shot just before 8,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys, were slaughtered in the worst mass murder in Europe since World War II.

The Dutch government said it would continue to discuss "the question of the Armenian genocide" but was not planning official recognition.

Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag promised that an official representative would be sent to a commemoration ceremony in the Armenian capital Yerevan on 24 April.

"It's a sign of respect for the victims," said Kaag, not a signal that the government recognised the killings as a genocide.

The conservative-Christian ChristenUnie party had presented two resolutions on the topic for debate on Thursday: one to recognise the act as genocide and another to demand that the Dutch government send an official representative to the commemoration in Yerevan.

Turkey vehemently rejects any assertion that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire constitutes genocide.

Turkey, the Ottoman Empire's successor state, accepts that many Armenians were killed during the 1915-17 conflict, but objects to the word "genocide."

Ties between the NATO partners are already tense after the Dutch government banned Turkish politicians from entering the country to conduct election rallies for Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands in March last year. The Netherlands had also formally recalled its ambassador to Turkey from Ankara earlier this month.

Kaag underlined on Thursday that the parliament's decision had nothing to do with the tensions between the countries.

"This issue should not be politicised," said the foreign minister.

Joel Voordewind, a lawmaker from the ChristenUnie party who had led the initiative for the recognition, also said that the resolution "was not a condemnation of the current government in Turkey."    (dpa)

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