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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 17:04 GMT
Swiss accept Armenia 'genocide'
85th anniversary of killings
Fifteen countries have now recognise the killings as genocide
The Swiss lower house of parliament has voted to describe the mass killings of Armenians during the last years of the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Armenian officials and community groups have welcomed the decision, but it is expected to upset Turkey.

Turkey accepts that thousands were killed by Ottoman Empire forces in 1915, but says figures are inflated and denies a planned genocide.

Fifteen countries have now agreed to label the killings as genocide.

They include France, Argentina and Russia.

Justice

The Armenian Ambassador to Switzerland, Zograb Mnatsakanyan, told Armenian Public TV the decision was the result of hard work by the Armenian community of Switzerland, according to Armenian news agency Arminfo.

"The Swiss parliament has once again confirmed its adherence to human values and justice," he said.

The co-chairman of the Armenian-Swiss Association, Sarkis Shaginyan, said the resolution was important for the entire Armenian people.

Swiss Christian Democrat MP Dominique de Buman said a vote was needed to reflect historical truth.

"Time cannot heal all wounds," he said.

He added that he did not want to provoke a dispute with modern Turkey that some other MPs fear could arise from the result.

French row

The French National Assembly's decision to recognise the killings as genocide triggered a political and economic rift with Turkey in 2001.

Ankara cancelled millions of dollars worth of defence deals with French companies.

Switzerland and Turkey have had good relations in the past and the Swiss used to officially refer to the killings as the "tragic events having led to the death of an extremely high number of Armenians".

But a planned visit to Turkey in October by the Swiss Foreign Minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, was cancelled by the Turks in a dispute over the Armenian issue.

The Swiss vote does not demand formal recognition by the government - it simply asks for the parliament's decision to be acknowledged and transmitted to Turkey.




SEE ALSO:
Armenians say US failed them
26 Jan 03  |  Correspondent
Tackling Armenia's painful past
21 Nov 02  |  Entertainment
Turkey: Angry man of Europe
02 Feb 01  |  Europe
Turkey and France build bridges
25 Jan 02  |  Europe
Analysis: Defining genocide
10 Dec 01  |  Europe
Timeline: Turkey
20 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Armenia
02 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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