BULGARIA PARLIAMENT RECOGNISES "MASS KILLING", WHILE ARMENIA MARKS 100 YEARS SINCE GENOCIDE (ROUNDUP)

25 April 2015 | 00:00 | FOCUS News Agency
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Sofia. Bulgarian parliament recognised the mass killings of Armenians
in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1922 and held a minute of silence but
avoided the word "genocide".

The declaration was backed by 157 MPs, while 36 MP - all with the
Turkish ethnic party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), voted
against.

After the declaration was adopted the MPs honoured the victims with
a minute of silence, before which the MRF left the parliamentary hall.

Under the declaration April 24 is declared a Day for Commemoration
of the Mass Killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

The declaration also highlights the difference between the former
Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.

This was Bulgaria's first recognition of the massacre against the
Armenians but its adoption did not come easily and was preceded with
wild arguments at the parliamentary hall.

In the beginning of the regular parliamentary sitting on Friday MP
with the Patriotic Front coalition Dimitar Bayraktarov proposed the
working time of the parliament to be extended until the adoption of
item 3 of parliament's agenda - draft decision on recognition of the
genocide over the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1922, since
there was a risk for the time not to be enough for it with regard to
the scheduled parliamentary control session at 11 a.m. The proposal,
however, was not adopted.

Patriotic Front MP Iskrev Veselinov then proposed the parliament
to honour the victims of the Armenian genocide with one minute of
silence but the proposal was not even voted on.

Parliament chairperson Tsetska Tsacheva said that there were two
proposals for a minute of silence but added that they were not filed
according to the rules.

The MPs with the Turkish ethnic party - the Movement for Rights and
Freedoms (MRF), voted against the extension of the working time and
then left the parliamentary hall after the proposal for the one minute
of silence.

Patriotic Front MP Valentin Kasabov said that the MPs were ridiculous
and non-instructive since they did not honour the victims of the
Armenian genocide only because of parliament's agenda and rules.

MP with Ataka party, Desislav Chukolov, on the other hand, proposed
the Armenian genocide to be moved from item 3 to item 1 in parliament's
agenda. The MPs with the MRF then returned to the parliamentary hall to
vote against the proposal and then left again, The proposal was adopted
with 115 votes "for", 34 votes "against", while 36 MPs abstained.

Shirt after that it was announced that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov
had surprisingly arrived at the parliament, though scheduled to
travel to Romania for a trilateral meeting with his Romanian and
Serbian counterparts and a joint parliamentary sitting.

After the talks held behind closed doors the mandate-holder Citizens
for European Development of Bulgaria (CEDB) proposed an editorial
amendment to the Draft Decision on the Recognition of the Genocide over
the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire by removing the term "genocide".

CEDB MP Tsveta Karayancheva presented the new proposal as "Draft
decision on the recognition of the mass killing of the Armenians in
the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1922".

After the proposal was made parliament chairperson Tsetska Tsacheva
gave a 15-minute break.

"Bulgarian government cannot do anything but recognise the mass
killing of the Armenians," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov
said speaking with journalists at parliament.

"What we discussed with the colleagues is that history will be history,
the victims will be victims, and this day should honour their memory.

The CEDB proposed for the mass killing of the Armenians to be
recognised and I think that there will be a consensus," the prime
minister remarked.

"I said very clearly "the mass killing" of the Armenians, this is
the Bulgarian word or the Bulgarian vocabulary.

Indeed the CEDB has always accounted the fact that there are problems
at the border to Turkey. They made gestures towards us, you know -
the meat export, where the counter-sanctions from Russia affected our
agriculture very serious. I hope that there is a clear distinction made
between the Ottoman Empire and Turkey nowadays, and the undisputable
fact that people were killed will be acknowledged by the Turkish
government," Boyko Borisov said.

"Recognition of the genocide will happen at a moment when all
countries express their positions," said Vartanush Topakbashyan,
chairperson of the Coordination Council of the Armenians in Bulgaria,
speaking with journalists at parliament, after attending the adoption
of the declaration.

"The pressure Turkey exerts is the set of instruments for actions of
this country. This is the reason for the softer tone of the decisions
that was adopted," Ms Topakbashyan said commenting on the last-minute
amendments made to the Bulgarian parliament's declaration on the
Armenian genocide.

She added that there would be a counter-reaction from Turkey.

"Turkey will at least express disagreement with our MPs. These people
claim to be a democratic country and aim at the EU but their behaviour
is not democratic," Topakbashyan remarked.

In her words, the Armenian genocide will be recognise when all
countries express a position and when the USA has enough courage to
say it publicly.

"We cannot be satisfied with it. The death of our ancestors was
genocide," she added.

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