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Articles

THE RESOLUTION OF THE EDINBURGH MUNICIPAL COUNCIL

Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
21 November 2005 - ?KSAREN
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!ŞçpĞrmenian associations in Europe have always attempted to pass resolutions from the parliaments of the European states, particularly the members of the European Union. Their aim is to make Turkish recognition of the so-called genocide a precondition for Turkish accession to the European Union. Up to now, besides the parliaments of the most significant members of the EU, namely, Germany, France and Italy, and also the parliaments of Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Greece and Southern Cyprus passed resolutions recognizing Armenian genocide allegations. Probably, other states will follow the suit. 

British governments have resisted to the demands of recognition of the ‘genocide’ although there has been a great pressure from some parliamentarians who had been influenced by the Armenians, such as Baroness Caroline Cox. Those governments have declared that they perceived the events of 1915 as a tragedy; however, they have also argued that there is not enough evidence to recognize these events as a ‘genocide’ crime, defined in the 1945 United Nations Resolution on the Prevention and the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Against this attitude, Armenian organizations began to work for passing resolutions from regional parliaments that recognize the so-called genocide. After an attempt in the Wales, a draft was presented to Edinburgh Municipal Council. 

During the discussions in the Council, Ian White, the head of the Conservative group, argued that this was not the job of the Council and the Council should deal with more essential tasks such as the reparation of the roads, cleaning the streets, etc. However, the Labor Party group and the Mayor Donald Anderson argued the opposite. Even he sent a letter to the Turkish Embassy in London and wrote that he had examined these events and he had no hesitations that the Armenian community had been subjected to genocide by the Ottoman regime. 

Federation of the Turkish Associations in the United Kingdom organized a meeting in order to express the Turkish views about this issue, to which Rtd. Ambassador Gündüz Aktan, the President of ASAM, and Norman Stone from Koç University participated. They informed the audience about the 1915 relocation and they proved that this relocation should not be accepted as genocide. Mayor Anderson was among the participants. He remained silent during the meeting and he could not adequately answer the questions that were directed to him. 

After this meeting, it was expected that the Municipal Council would have cancelled the draft resolution on the recognition of so-called genocide. But the draft was discussed at the planned day, on November 16, and adopted with the 29 votes of Labor and Liberal Party groups in favor. 16 Conservative members of the Council rejected the draft. 

The adoption of this resolution turned out to be a political debate within the Municipal Council rather than the discussion of whether 1915 events can be accepted as genocide or not. There is no meaningful reason for the insistent efforts of Mayor Anderson on behalf of this resolution and his departure from the stand of the Labor Party on that issue. There may be personal reasons to act in such a manner. 

By the way, although not succeeded in the prevention of the adoption of this resolution, the attempt of the Federation of Turkish Associations in the United Kingdom is worth of mentioning.

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