RIGA - The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in its statement today that the declaration adopted by the Latvian Parliament today, which recognizes the events of 1915 as a genocide against Armenians, is a null and void attempt to rewrite the history for political motives.
"We reject and strongly denounce this unfortunate and unlawful declaration. Parliaments are not venues to write or pass judgments on history," the ministry said.
The ministry noted that none of the conditions required for the use of the term “genocide” that is strictly defined in international law exist with regards to the events of 1915. This attempt is in conflict with both the provisions of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the decisions taken by the European Court of Human Rights in 2013 and 2015, which clearly establish the controversial nature of the events of 1915.
This declaration also contradicts the statement made by the Latvian Parliament regarding the events in its own history on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of occupation of Latvia, which expresses that an honest and fair approach to historical events is a prerequisite of international relations, and this respect, sets out a double standard.
Turkey calls on the Latvian Parliament to step back on this mistake and to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations, instead of serving the agenda of those circles that try to foment enmity from history.
As reported, the Saeima on Wednesday passed a declaration on the Armenian genocide that was committed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
The document says that it is important to remember the lives of people who perished in the Armenian genocide organized by Ottoman authorities - mass killings and deportations, which started on April 24, 1915 with arrests of ethnic Armenian intellectuals and activists in Constantinople (now Istanbul).
In the declaration, the Saeima denounces the crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians - killings and forced deportations.
The Latvian parliament refers to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) and the European Parliament's resolution recognizing these World War I events as genocide as defined in the UN Genocide Convention.
The lawmakers underline that Latvia condemns all crimes against humanity and realizes its duty to recognize and remember these crimes to prevent their repetition in the future.
The parliament says in the document that as a result of the Ottoman authorities' actions, many ethnic Armenians were forcibly deported to other regions of the empire, which resulted in the loss of many lives due to famine, physical violence and killings.
The Saeima underlines that Latvia honors the memory of all Armenian genocide victims and shows respect for the survivors, as well as points out that open and free discussions on historical events are indispensable for the development of a healthy and mature democracy.
The Latvian parliament calls on the international community to assess these historical events and set sights to the future, which should be built free from violence and intolerance - a future where human rights are honored and each individual can feel free, unthreatened and secure.