Czech President Milos Zeman said he will urge his country’s parliament to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey as he paid an official visit to Armenia on Wednesday.
“As a follow-up to my statement, I will appeal to the Czech parliament to follow Germany’s example and adopt a similar statement,” he told a joint news conference with President Serzh Sarkisian held after their talks in Yerevan.
Zeman laid a wreath at the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan earlier in the day.
Zeman advocated an official recognition by the Czech Republic of the genocide in an interview with the Czech newspaper “Parlamentni listy” given ahead of his visit to Armenia. He said he will discuss the matter with Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek on his return from Yerevan.
With the Czech Republic having a parliamentary system of government, Zeman is less powerful than Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is backed by the parliamentary majority. The two men have had an uneasy relationship.
The Czech parliament’s foreign relations committee already referred to the World War I-era slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians as genocide in a statement adopted in April 2015. The issue has not been debated on the parliament floor yet, however.
Sarkisian thanked Zeman for his plans to push for genocide recognition. He also again praised the German parliament for adopting a corresponding resolution last week. The “historic” Bundestag vote showed that “it is impossible to stop the international recognition process by distorting history, denying facts or making threats,” the Armenian president said in a fresh jibe at Turkey.
The Turkish government responded angrily to the June 2 vote, recalling its ambassador in Berlin in protest.