BRUSSELS—Members of the Chamber of Deputies (Parliament) of Belgium on Thursday with an overwhelming majority voted for the resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD).
Following a passionate debate a day earlier during the plenary session, when all party representatives in their speeches condemned the genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey and stressed the need for the Republic of Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and with Thursday’s resolution, both of Belgium’s Parliaments (Senate, in 1998, and the federal government, in June of this year) have now recognized the Armenian Genocide.
Member of Parliament (MP) Peter De Roover, who spoke first, showed his solidarity with the Armenian people by wearing the forget-me-not commemorative pin of the Centennial. He called on the Turkish authorities to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to end their policy of denial. MP Stephane Crusnière of the Socialist Party said that his party has always recognized the Armenian Genocide.
MP Denis Ducarme mentioned the fact that from this very podium, on June 18, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel recognized the Armenian Genocide in the name of the Belgian government. MP Sarah Claerhout noted that this resolution is a call to Turkey to intensify its efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide. MP Benoit Helling said there is a historic consensus on the issue and a political recognition is needed.
MP Georges Dallemagne presented a lengthy historical overview of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians and other minorities in the Ottoman Empire. He noted that genocides are still going on today, 100 years after Armenians were butchered. MP Jan Penris called on the Turkish government to recognize the reality of the Armenian Genocide. MP Olivier Maingain, mentioningJean Jaures, Orhan Pamuk, and Hrant Dink, also said that it is time to be brave and to recognize the crime of genocide against the Armenians.
MP Marco Van Hees said that progressive Turkish parties already recognize the Armenian Genocide and believe this is the way forward. He also mentioned that by recognizing the Armenian Genocide, Belgium will gain credibility. Another MP, Dirk Van Der Maelen, stressed the need to be precise and to use proper terminology to include all victims of genocides.
During the debate, it was noted that the resolution would facilitate a dialogue between Turks and Armenians, as well as serve a means to support progressive and democratic forces in Turkey. It was repeatedly stated that the resolution is not against the current Turkish people, but against the Turkish state’s denial policy.
“We welcome this resolution in the Chamber today, by which the Belgian state recognizes the Armenian Genocide by its government and both chambers of the parliament,” said Kaspar Karampetian, president of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD). “On the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, we have seen more and more countries recognize the historic fact of the genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey. This is another clear message to Turkey that genocide denial has no place in Europe, and Turkey needs to reconcile with its past sooner or later. This resolution of the Belgian Chamber will also put an end to the denial rhetoric in Belgium,” noted Karampetian. He added that the resolution was in part the result of well-coordinated efforts of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Belgium, the Committee of Armenians of Belgium, and Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Europe.