Turkish Foreign Ministry objects to Belgian parliament calling the Armenian genocide a genocide

BRUSSELS – Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Friday has strongly condemned Belgium’s parliament for including the Armenian genocide in an adopted resolution to hold an annual day of genocide commemoration on December 9. In resolution 923, the Belgian House of Representatives asks the Belgian government to “make 9 December the national day to commemorate the victims of the genocides officially recognized by the Belgian State, and to hold an official commemoration ceremony on the occasion thereof.”

What irritated the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and what made it publicly denounce the resolution, was not that Belgium should hold a special day for genocide commemoration but that the resolution specifically mentions the Armenian Genocide to be included in the commemoration. Resolution 923 notes that “Belgium has officially recognized the genocide of the Armenians, which, given the period in which it took place, could not have been done by an international criminal court” – the latter referring to the fact that the Armenian genocide has been officially recognized by countries but has not been recognized by an international criminal court.

The statement issued by the spokesperson of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says; “Furthermore, the reference to the events of 1915 in the decision of the House of Representatives of Belgium adopted on the same day regarding the declaration of 9 December as the day of commemoration of the victims of the genocides, is also contrary to the basic principles of law, first and foremost to the judgments of the ECtHR. We expect Belgium to act with reason and refrain from taking steps that would overshadow our bilateral relations.”

Resolution 923 was adopted on the same day as resolution 1597 which called for an immediate withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and condemned Azerbaijan’s military aggression with the help of Turkey. The resolution also condemns Turkey’s military involvement, and mentions the use of Turkish drones and Syrian mercenaries in the conflict.

Many countries, including Belgium, have officially recognized the tragic events of 1915 as genocide on Armenians, Pontic Greeks, and Syriacs (Arameans-Chaldeans-Assyrians).  The genocide is well documented in the book ‘Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities 1894-1924‘ by Israeli historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi.

Syriacs call the genocide, perpetrated by Ottoman-Turks and Kurds, ‘Sayfo‘ (Year of the Sword) and “Kafno” (Hunger). Armenians commemorate the genocide on 24 April, Syriacs on 15 June, and Pontic Greeks on 19 May. In Belgium’s neighbor France, April 24 is a national day of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey denies that genocide has taken place. The official Turkish standpoint is that massacres were committed by both sides in a civil war (ignoring the fact that most genocides take place in (civil) wars), and that the Armenians sided with the enemies of the Ottoman-Turks. And that the high number of deaths was partly the result of famines. Since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey has always exerting great pressure on the international community not to use the word genocide.