By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The leaders of a pro-Armenian group in the British Parliament pledged to continue to strive for Britain’s recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide as they wrapped up a three-day visit to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday.
The British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group, which comprises 56 members of the Houses of Commons and Lords, initiated a public petition to British Prime Minister Tony Blair two years ago, asking him to officially condemn the genocide. The petition was signed by some 2,500 politicians and public figures, including London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
“Our hope is that the number of politicians supporting our cause will increase so much that Mr. Blair will not be able to say no,” said Odette Bazil, the group’s executive secretary.
Bazil and other leaders of the group acknowledged that the Blair government does not want to put its close relations with Turkey at risk by describing the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. “As yet, the British government is not supporting our position,” said Jane Griffiths, an MP from Blair’s Labor Party.
Also calling for genocide recognition was Robert Wareing, who is a member of a similar parliamentary group promoting British-Azerbaijani relations. Wareing, who was also visiting Armenia and Karabakh, said it must be a key condition for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. “First of all, Turkey should apologize for the genocide. Secondly, she should withdraw her troops from Cyprus,” he told a news conference in Yerevan.