RIGA - The Saeima on Thursday passed a declaration on the Armenian genocide that was committed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
The declaration drafted by the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee was passed after the parliament rejected a declaration proposed earlier by a group of several dozen MPs.
In the debate about the declaration, MP Romans Naudins (National Alliance) said that parliaments should carefully weigh such declarations before adopting them because they entail certain consequences. He said that none of the declarations was discussed with historians and that they deal with matters that Latvian lawmakers have not analyzed thoroughly enough.
Naudins called on the Saeima to vote against the declarations and to draft new one by the fall. Naudins believes that the declaration should also mention people of other ethnic backgrounds who died during these tragic events.
At the same time, the MP urged the Armenian parliament to denounce the genocide committed against Latvians and the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.
MP Aleksandrs Kirsteins (National Alliance), who spoke in detail about the historic events, also called against passing the declaration, adding that he did not understand the necessity to adopt such a declaration now.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rihards Kols (National Alliance) informed that the Saeima committee has been debating a statement on the Armenian genocide for several
months already and that all sides of the story have been heard in the process.
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.