Milos Zeman’s call for Genocide recognition remained unanswered due to pro-Turkish MPs – Czech expert

09:20 • 30.11.16



In an interview with Tert.am, Simon Krbec, Head of the Research Center for Archeology of Evil, commented upon Czech President Milos Zeman’s call on the country’s the parliament and cabinet for recognizing the Armenian Genicude.


He described the recent statement as part of a written debate that has been under way in the past several years.


“In my understanding, the term ‘process of recognition’ is ambiguous and confusing for Czechs. President Zeman’s statement was part of a general debate about the Armenian Genocide which has been occurring for some years in the Czech Republic. It is important to remember that the Republic is not a presidential system. The primary political authority with regard to potential recognition is the national Parliament. Presumably, President Zeman has made clear his political opinion to parliamentary leaders, but it is not within his authority to start the ‘process of recognition’. Unfortunately, the Parliament’s debate on the genocide is fragmented, politicized and full of different controversies,” he said.


As part of an official visit to Armenia in June, the Czech president announced a plan for initiating an Armenian Genocide resolution in the country, citing the example of Germany and France but also a range of other European countries as good precedents.


But no processes followed his statement. In comments to Tert.am  later in June, Jan Hamacek, the head of the Czech Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies, said he believes that historical events should be reflected by politicians, not historians in the long term.


Mr Krbec noted that the pro-Turkish MPs represented in the country’s legislature seriously influenced the process. “Their essential argument is that any understanding of the history of the genocide should be judged by historians and not politicians. Additionally, aggressive Turkish diplomacy constantly attacks independent pedagogic and research efforts by academics at Czech universities and NGOs. And these efforts could be decisive in whether or not the Armenian Genocide is recognized by the Czech Parliament.

“I myself strongly believe that the Parliament represents the views and interests of Czech citizens,” he explained.

Addressing the international recognition of Genocide, Mr Krbec said he doesn’t think there is any need for more international pressure. “The most important international academic and NGOs have long ago recognized the slaughter of Armenians during World War I as a genocide. Raphael Lemkin, the author of the legal term ‘genocide’, was fundamentally inspired in his thinking by the tragedy of the Armenian people committed by the Ottoman Empire and its allies. For instance, The International Association of Genocide Scholars has numerous times officially recognized the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians, Assyrians, and Hellenics. Furthermore, no serious genocide scholar in the world today would deny the Armenian Genocide. Rather, the challenge is to convince the Turkish people and their representatives, including Turkish scholars and activists to acknowledge the true historical past. And after what has happened politically this past summer of 2016 in Turkey, we can hope for a more intensive dialogue with exiled Turkish scholars, diplomats and expatriates.”

The expert further shared his concerns over the continuing policy of denial.

“Denialism is one of the biggest threats to democracy. Denialism blames the victims of mass murder and steps on their fundamental rights. It justifies the crimes of the perpetrators. Denialism is, in fact, a key component of genocide because it seeks to erase past history and create the possibility for the implementation of future genocides,” he said.

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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