ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Parliament of the Netherlands on Thursday passed a motion recognizing the systematic mass killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century as genocide.
Despite the outrage and diplomatic protestations from Turkey, a vast majority of the Dutch House of Representatives voted for the recognition of the genocide that took place in 1915 across Ottoman provinces.
Only the minority Denk, a bloc made up of three former ethnic Turkish members of the Labour Party, opposed the move, Netherlands’ major daily De Telegraaf reported.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag, however, stated the government would continue to refrain from using the term genocide, a long-held policy meant to appease Turkey.
The Dutch were to send a cabinet member to the commemorations of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Day on April 24.
The news from Amsterdam is most likely to create further anger in Ankara with ties between the two NATO ally countries already in tatters for over a year now.
Last week, Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d‘affaires to Ankara to state its displeasure with the Western European nation’s intentions of recognizing Ottoman massacres and forced deportation of the Armenian people as genocide.
Earlier this month, the Dutch Foreign Ministry had to withdraw its ambassador to Turkey after Ankara prevented the diplomat from entering the country for over a year over a dispute that began in March 2017.
Successive Turkish governments adopted a policy of denial that a genocide ever occurred, instead advocating a line that the Turks also suffered at the onset of the first World War and euphemistically labeled the killings as “the 1915 events.”
The only major political party calling for recognition of the genocide and official apology is the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Journalists and activists who used the term, and who signed petitions of apologies to the Armenian people have faced societal and judicial backlashes in the past decade.
In July 2017, the Turkish Parliament passed a set of bylaws forbidding lawmakers from employing certain words and phrases, such as “Kurdistan” or “Armenian Genocide,” during legislative sessions.
HDP lawmaker Garo Paylan notably received a banishment for three sessions six months before that act for using the word genocide was even introduced.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany