An alliance of Europe’s leading center-right parties has urged Turkey to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and “make restitution” to descendants of its 1.5 million victims.
The European People’s Party (EPP) also called on the European Union to “officially commemorate April 24 as a day to remember and condemn the Armenian Genocide.”
“The European People’s Party reaffirms its recognition and condemnation of the Genocide and Great National Dispossession of the Armenian people on the eve of its 100th Anniversary on 24 April 2015,” reads a resolution adopted by the EPP’s governing Political Assembly on Tuesday.
“We commemorate one-and-a-half million innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and bow in gratitude to those martyred and surviving heroes who struggled for their lives and human dignity,” it says.
“We express the hope that recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey will serve as a starting point for the historical reconciliation of the Armenian and Turkish peoples,” adds the document.
The EPP, which unites 78 parties from virtually all EU member states as well as Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine, said that Turkey should not only stop denying the genocide but also “seek redemption and make restitution appropriate for a European country.” That, it said, means “ensuring a right of return of the Armenian people to and a secure reconnection with their national hearth.”
What is more, the resolution says, Ankara should restore ancient churches and other Armenian cultural and historic sites in “historic Western Armenia” and return them to Armenians. It refers to eastern regions of modern-day Turkey that had sizable Armenian populations until the genocide.
Successive Turkish governments have for decades vehemently denied that the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Ottoman Armenians constituted genocide. They have strongly condemned the parliaments and governments of about two dozen states that have recognized the massacres as genocide.
The current authorities in Ankara did not react to the EPP resolution as of Wednesday evening.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party had an observer status in the EPP from 2005-2013. No other Turkish party is currently affiliated with the pan-European coalition headquartered in Brussels.
By contrast, the EPP comprises three Armenian parties, including President Serzh Sarkisian’s HHK. A senior HHK figure, Education Minister Armen Ashotian, attended Tuesday’s session of the EPP Political Assembly. Ashotian was quick to announce and hail the passage of the resolution.
The EPP’s largest members are Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and France’s main opposition Union for the Popular Movement (UMP).