The Armenian Parliament on Monday rejected the opposition Heritage party’s proposal to consider a bill condemning the genocides of Pontus Greeks, Assyrians and other ethnic minorities in the Ottoman Empire.
Only 17 MPs (representing Heritage and the other parliamentary minority party, Dashnaktsutyun) voted in favor of putting such a bill on the parliament session agenda.
Members of the faction representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and other pro-establishment forces opted out of the vote that eventually fell flat due to the failure to meet the quorum requirement.
Galust Sahakyan, the head of the RPA parliamentary faction, explained that there was no political need for adopting such a bill now. He suggested first asking the ethnic minorities living in Armenia whether they supported this initiative or not. According to the senior pro-government lawmaker, Armenia regards the massacres of other peoples in the Ottoman Empire as part of a whole and condemns them along with the Armenian Genocide.
Heritage MP Armen Martirosyan said that as genocide victims themselves the Armenians are morally obliged to respect the memory of other victims. His fellow party member, Zaruhi Postanjyan, further claimed that the RPA’s position showed its being “under the influence of Turkish authorities.”
“The Turkish-Armenian protocols are still on the agenda, while our bill has been dismissed. This does not befit our people,” the outspoken oppositionist said.
Parliament Speaker Samvel Nikoyan, who represents the RPA, explained that keeping the protocols on the parliament agenda was not necessarily the sign that Armenia expected Turkey to change its position any time soon, but rather showed Armenia’s respect for its international partners “who have made a lot of effort for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.”