17:59 GMT +317 November 2019
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    The eternal flame at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian genocide memorial complex

    Dutch Lawmakers Recognize Armenian Genocide, Foreign Ministry to Await Debate

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    The Dutch lower house of parliament has issued resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide and ordering a government minister to attend a commemorative ceremony in Armenia in the spring.

    The motions, put forth by Christian Union lawmaker Joel Voordewind, received support from all four member parties of the Netherlands' coalition government. Together, they declare that the Dutch parliament "recognizes the Armenian genocide," and that a minister of the government or a state secretary should attend commemoration ceremonies in Yerevan, Armenia each April.

    "We cannot deny history out of fear of sanctions," Voordewind said, speaking to Dutch media. "Our country houses the capital of international law after all, so we must not be afraid to do the right thing here too," he added.

    Thursday's decision is expected to further sour already tense relations between Amsterdam and Ankara, which deteriorated sharply after Dutch authorities banned a Turkish government minister from attending a demonstration ahead of a referendum which gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more power last year. Last week, the Netherlands withdrew its ambassador from Turkey.

    Commenting on the resolutions, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Sigrid Kaag said that she appreciated the parliament's "enthusiasm," but added that she would not comment on the government's position on the issue until after a debate in parliament next week.

    An estimated 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were killed within the territories of the Ottoman Empire and its successor, the Republic of Turkey, between 1915 and 1923. Hundreds of thousands more were forced out of the country. Turkey has disputed the figures, and denies that a genocide took place, blaming deaths on wartime fighting. Over two dozen states, including Russia, have recognized the massacre of the Armenians as a genocide.


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