In a landmark move, MPs in Syria have voted unanimously to recognise and condemn the Armenian Genocide, ARMENPRESS has reported. The parliament in Damascus had previously paid homage to the memory of victims of the genocide but fell short of recognising the atrocities as such.
The resolution was tabled by the Syria-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Commission. It recognises the genocide of Armenians and other representatives of the Syrian nation by the then Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century.
"Recognition is important, because only Lebanon from [all the] Arab countries has recognised the Armenian Genocide so far," explained Syria's Ambassador to Armenia, Mohammad Haj Ibrahim. "The successors of those who committed the genocide are perpetrating similar crimes against the Syrian people, through terrorists, today." This was seen as a reference to Turkey, which has troops in northern Syria, and is home to millions of Syrian refugees forced to leave their homeland due to the ongoing civil war.
The Chair of the Syrian Parliament's Arab and Foreign Affairs Committee, Boutros Morjana, insisted that, "It is time to recognise and condemn these inhumane actions and prevent their repetition."
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According to the Syrian Parliament's Secretary, Rami Saleh, "The history of the Ottoman Empire is full of massacres of various components of the Armenians, Syrian peoples and others." He described the resolution as "necessary".
Armenia's Ambassador to Syria, Arshak Poladian, told the Speaker of the Parliament last June that Syria has become a home for Armenians, in which they have lived successful lives and integrated into Syrian society.
The Armenian Genocide is said to have taken place between 1915 and 1923, with the massacre and forced deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. However, the facts of the matter have been disputed over the years, and several countries refuse to acknowledge that what happened was "genocide".
At the time of writing, however, 32 countries have formally recognised the Armenian Genocide, while others, including Britain, Iran and Australia, boast political parties or municipalities which have recognised the genocide independently from their government.
Lebanon and Syria were the first countries in the Middle East to recognise the genocide. Two close neighbours of Armenia — Azerbaijan and Turkey — have formally denied its historical accuracy. Indeed, both have threatened economic and diplomatic consequences for countries which choose to recognise the genocide.
Tensions are currently running high between Turkey and Syria as fighting in Idlib, in north-western Syria, intensifies.