CANBERRA, Australia—The Australian government says it won’t be officially represented in Armenia next month as the country marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will instead attend celebrations of Turkey’s victory over Australian and New Zealand forces at the Battle of Gallipoli, which have been slated for April 24 this year by the Turkish government to deflect attention from commemorations of the Armenian Genocide worldwide.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has told SBS the Australian government will not be sending a representative to Yerevan next month for the centenary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide.
When asked about the reason for the decision, and whether an official invitation was received, the Department declined to comment further.
Vache Kahramanian, from the Armenian National Committee of Australia, said it was “Ankara’s ongoing gag order on Australia on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”
“We’ve heard from many members of Parliament throughout the country that Turkey continues to use Gallipoli and the centenary of Anzac Day as a bargaining chip to ensure that Australia does not formally recognize the Armenian Genocide,” he said.
Australia isn’t among the countries to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide at a national level, although two state Parliaments have done so.