Spanish lawmakers dismiss ‘Armenian genocide’ resolution

May 24, 2012, Thursday/ 14:43:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Spanish lawmakers have voted against a resolution describing the killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century as “genocide,” a news report said on Thursday.

Lawmakers at the Foreign Affairs Committee rejected the proposed resolution by a resounding 3-36 vote, the Anatolia news agency reported. The measure was proposed by two deputies from Amaiur, a left-wing Basque nationalist coalition, and was only supported by members from the United Left (IU) coalition and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). Members representing all the other parties at the committee, including the ruling People's Party (PP) and the main opposition Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), opposed the resolution.


A spokesman for the PP said the ruling party was opposed to the measure because it was against “a revision of history” by parliament. Jose Maria Beneyto said his party encourages reconciliation efforts instead.


Meritxell Batet, a PSOE lawmaker, agreed, saying such resolutions harm Turkish-Armenian ties. “The best way is to encourage reconciliation,” she was quoted as saying by Anatolia.


Other lawmakers criticized the Amaiur deputies who proposed the resolution, saying they should be mourning those who have been killed in terror attacks in the Basque region instead of shedding “crocodile tears” for the Armenians.


Spanish views on history appear to be split along the political divisions in the country. The governments of Spain's autonomous regions in the Basque Country, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia have adopted resolutions describing the 1915 events as genocide, while the Spanish parliament is reluctant to approve such steps. A similar measure, tabled by the Republican Left of Catalonia was voted down in the Spanish parliament in 2010.


Turkey rejects Armenian claims of genocide, saying there were deaths on both sides as the Ottoman Empire was trying to quell a revolt by Armenian gangs who took up arms against the central government for independence in collaboration with the Russian army that was then invading eastern Anatolia.


But parliaments in a number of countries have already passed resolutions supporting the Armenian claims of genocide. Earlier this year, France, whose parliament had already adopted the Armenian version of history, attempted to take it a step further and criminalize denial of the alleged genocide. A bill to that effect was passed in both houses of the French parliament but was annulled in February by the country's Constitutional Council, which said it ran counter to the constitutional principle of freedom of expression.

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