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Switzerland Urges Turkey To `Face The Past´

(AFP) – Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on Tuesday urged Turkey to carry out a detailed study of claims that millions of Armenians were the victims of genocide under Ottoman rule during World War I.

“We think that it is essential that every country conduct an in-depth historical research of its own past, especially when the question is so painful,” Calmy-Rey told reporters after talks with her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.

The Swiss minister was speaking on the first day of an official visit which was originally supposed to take place in 2003 but was cancelled after the Swiss canton of Vaud qualified as genocide the 1915 massacres of Armenians. Shortly afterwards, the lower house of the Swiss parliament also followed suit – against the Bern government’s advice — and adopted a similar resolution, unleashing an angry response from Ankara.

The allegations of genocide “are unacceptable claims by the (Armenian Diaspora) to continue its existence. Unfortunately, the Diaspora sometimes poisons our ties with other countries for its own benefit,” Gul said. “Other countries must not allow this,” he added.

Turkey recently called for an unbiased study by historians, urging Armenia to also open up its own archives. Calmy-Rey hailed the offer as a “good idea” and said she had proposed to Gul the inclusion of international experts in such a commission for the credibility of the work.

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