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In a move welcomed by Armenia on Wednesday, the lower house of the Czech Republic’s parliament has recognized the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

The Chamber of Deputies cited “the genocide of Armenians and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Ottoman Empire” in a resolution on crimes against humanity committed during the First and Second World Wars. It unanimously passed the resolution late on Tuesday, the day after worldwide commemorations of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

The main sponsor of the resolution, Social-Democrat Robin Boehnisch, chairs a Czech parliamentary group promoting closer ties with Armenia. A deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, Eduard Sharmazanov, telephoned Boehnisch on Wednesday to thank him and his colleagues for the measure

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian hailed the resolution as a “valuable contribution to the noble task of preventing genocides and other crimes against humanity. In a written statement, Nalbandian also praised Czech President Milos Zeman’s position on the issue.

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (L) greets his visiting Czech counterpart Milos Zeman in Yerevan, 8Jun2016.
Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (L) greets his visiting Czech counterpart Milos Zeman in Yerevan, 8Jun2016.

Visiting Yerevan in June 2016, Zeman, who has largely ceremonial powers, said he will urge his country’s parliament to “follow Germany’s example” and recognize the genocide. He spoke just days after the German parliament passed an Armenian genocide resolution that prompted a furious reaction from Turkey.

The Turkish government did not immediately react to the Czech vote. It has strongly condemned the 26 other nations that have also officially acknowledged that the First World War-era slaughter of 1.5 Armenians constituted genocide.

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