By Emil Danielyan
The European Parliament reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey’s accession to the European Union must be conditional, among other things, on its recognition of the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
The EU legislature adopted by 356 votes in favor, 181 against and 125 abstentions a resolution that “calls on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide” and “considers this recognition to be a prerequisite for accession to the European Union.”
The resolution, which also demands that Ankara recognize Cyprus, came ahead of membership talks between the EU and Turkey that are due to open on Monday. It is not binding for the 25-nation bloc’s executive European Commission and member governments. But it does reflect growing unease about the prospect of a large Muslim country joining the EU.
It is not the first time that the European Parliament urges Turkey to end its long-running denial of the Armenian genocide. All of its previous genocide resolutions were angrily condemned by Ankara.
“That resolution is not binding,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, reacting to its passage later on Wednesday. “It does not matter whether they took such a decision or not. We will continue on our way,” private CNN-Turk television quoted him as saying during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
But the European Armenian Federation, a Brussels-based lobbying group, was quick to welcome the Strasbourg-based parliament’s statement. “This latest appeal by the European Parliament ahead of the negotiations with Turkey must serve as a guideline for the European Council and the European Commission,” its chairman, Hilda Tchoboian, said in a statement.
“We therefore call on the EU foreign ministers to touch upon the genocide issue during their meeting in Luxembourg on October 3,” she added.
Of all the EU member states only France has so far demanded that genocide recognition be a necessary condition for Turkish entry into the EU. President Jacques Chirac expressed hope last December that the Turks will do some “memory work” on the subject. But other EU officials have made it clear that while genocide recognition could be on the agenda of the upcoming accession talks it will not be a precondition for their successful outcome.