December 16, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918

SWISS PARLIAMENT OVERWHELMINGLY RECOGNIZES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Joins Growing Number of European States in Rejecting Turkish Pressure

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss National Council, by a vote of 107 to 67, today adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Swiss legislators recently took up the resolution, which was originally introduced by Rep. Jean-Claude Vaudroz in March, 2002 and later resubmitted by Dominique de Buman. The bill states, that “he National Council recognizes the Armenian Genocide of 1915. It calls on the Swiss Government to take necessary action and relay its position through the usual diplomatic channels.”

“We congratulate all the parties – both within civil society and government circles – that were active in pursuing this Armenian Genocide recognition effort,” stated European Armenian Federation (formerly ANC-Europe) Chairwoman Hilda Tchoboian. “We were especially pleased to see the successful results of many years of hard work by the Swiss Armenian community, particularly those of our partner, the Switzerland-Armenia Association.”

“Free countries, one after another, have recognized the Armenian Genocide committed by Turkey because of that government’s continued denial and refusal to come to terms with its responsibilities for this crime,” concluded Tchoboian.

The decision comes following years of concerted effort by the Armenian community of Switzerland to educate legislators regarding the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. Following passage of the measure, Armenian Ambassador to Switzerland, Zograb Mnatsakanyan, stated that the decision was the result of hard work by the Armenian community of Switzerland. “The Swiss Parliament has once again confirmed its adherence to human values and justice,” he said. Switzerland-Armenia Association Co-Chairman Sarkis Shaginyan stressed that the resolution was important for the entire Armenian people.

Similar legislation has been placed before the National Council in the past, but lost by narrow margin following intense lobbying by the Turkish government, which continues its worldwide campaign of Genocide denial and has threatened serious consequences for Turkish-Swiss relations. Earlier this year, a planned visit by a senior Swiss official to Turkey was canceled at the last minute after a cantonal parliament recognized the “genocide.” Similar threats regarding Turkish-French relations following the 2001 French parliament decision recognizing the Armenian Genocide turned out to be hollow, with relations between those two countries returning to normal within a few months.

Following the vote, the Turkish Foreign Ministry was swift with its standard rhetoric, denouncing the measure, stating “We strongly condemn and reject the decision approved today by the Swiss Parliament concerning the alleged genocide of Armenians.” It added, without elaborating, that Switzerland would “bear responsibility for the negative consequences” triggered by the decision, which it said was taken without consideration for bilateral ties.

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