Irina HovannisianRomania will not join France and other Western states in officially accepting the massacres of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide, Romanian President Traian Basescu said on Tuesday.
He explained that his country does not want to risk spoiling its relations with Turkey, which strongly denies that the 1915-1918 mass killings and deportations constituted a genocide.
Basescu made the comments at a meeting with Yerevan State University students on the second day of his official visit to Armenia. Asked by a student whether he is ready to follow French President Jacques Chirac’s example and urge Ankara to recognize the genocide, he said, “We will not do anything affecting our neutrality in our relations with all the countries of the Black Sea region.”
Visiting Yerevan last week, Chirac indicated that genocide recognition should be a precondition for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. "Each country grows by acknowledging its dramas and errors of the past,” he said.
Basescu claimed, however, that it is Armenia that complicates its integration into European structures by raising the genocide issue on the international stage. “Keep history on the history books and in the memory of the peoples, and rebuild the future,” he said. “If history constantly stands in the way of the future as a bone of contention, you won’t achieve success in European integration.”
Basescu argued that Romania laid to rest its historical disputes with neighbors for the sake of membership in NATO and the EU. “Romania is one of the countries which at any moment can have disputes with neighbors regarding the border, history and so on. So is Armenia and so is Turkey,” he said.
The Armenian genocide has been officially recognized by the governments and parliaments of about two dozen nations, including France, Italy, Canada and Russia.
(Photolur photo: Basescu, left, and other members of his delegation hold talks in Yerevan.)