Canadian Parliament recognizes Armenian genocide
Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 12:00 PM UT
The House of Commons has reversed a long-standing policy and passed a resolution denouncing the Turks for committing genocide against Armenians in 1915.
The vote passed easily, 153-68.
The motion said: "That this House acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity."
For decades consecutive Canadian governments have dodged the sensitive issue by calling what happened in eastern Turkey a "tragedy," stopping well short of referring to the events as "genocide."
In 1915, during the First World War, Turkish troops put down an Armenian uprising. Armenians say about 1.5 million people were killed by the Ottoman Turks, during a brutal eight year campaign.
Turkey has always fought attempts by Armenians and international human rights organizations to have the events declared a genocide. Previously, Ankara has warned countries contemplating similar action that there would be negative consequences. In some cases business contracts have been held up or denied.
In 2001 France backed the Armenian case. Ankara responded by freezing official visits to France and temporarily blocking French companies from competing for defence contracts.
The U.S. dropped a similar resolution a year earlier after the White House warned it could hurt U.S. security interests.
Before Wednesday's vote in Parliament, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham issued a statement saying "Canada has had friendly and co-operative relations with Turkey and Armenia for many years. The Canadian government is committed to make these relationships even stronger in the future."
The Turkish Embassy in Ottawa says it is drafting a response.