By Ruzanna Khachatrian and Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia’s political establishment on Thursday welcomed the genocide resolution approved by a U.S. congressional panel the previous day to describe the World War I-era killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.
Opening the parliament session, Speaker Tigran Torosian expressed gratitude to the American congressmen for showing “high moral qualities” and withstanding “various pressures.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress’ House of Representatives on Wednesday approved Resolution 106 by 27 votes to 21.
The text of the resolution opposed by the Bush administration and various Turkish lobbyist groups in the United States says the killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians was a genocide that should be acknowledged fully in U.S. foreign policy towards Turkey, along with “the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution.”
The measure is likely to be sent on to a vote in the full Democratic-led House, where a majority has already signed on to the resolution. A parallel measure is in the Senate pipeline.
Armenian lawmaker David Harutiunian highly evaluated the huge work done by the Armenian organizations and said the resolution was unlikely to bring in any “essential change” in the Armenia-Turkey relations.
“Even if there is some change, it will be of a very temporary nature. I said a few years ago that Turkey would itself recognize the genocide in the next ten or fifteen years and I have the same conviction today,” he told RFE/RL.
Armen Rustamian, from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, thinks the resolution will be instrumental in changing Turkey’s approaches to the matter.
“I think it will make Turkey revise its stereotypes and show a serious approach to the Armenian genocide issue. I am sure gradually Turkey itself will understand that this resolution marks the beginning of Turkey’s modernization and reform,” Rustamian told RFE/RL.
“Similar recognitions increase the Armenian people’s trust towards the international community and towards the idea of justice. In this sense, it is, of course, praiseworthy. I don’t think there will be any tangible consequences,” Stepan Safarian of the opposition Heritage faction commented.
And Mher Shahgeldian, of the opposition Orinats Yerkir party, said: “It is already a wave that will sooner or later gain even greater momentum in the world.”
Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) Armenia and Karabakh country director Arpi Vartanian called the approval of Resolution 106 a “moral victory” taking into account the huge pressure and threats from Turkey.
“The same resolution was discussed and voted on two years ago with 40 for and 7 against votes. But Turkey had not mounted such a large-scale campaign back then. That’s why I would call it a great victory,” Vartanian told RFE/RL.
Vartanian is optimistic about the prospect of the resolution in the full House, but at the same time does not rule out that its passage may be thwarted under huge Turkish pressure.
“Great efforts are being made to thwart the resolution, but we, too, must continue our efforts to ensure its passage,” she said.