MANITOBA (Global National)–Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed Wednesday his belief that 1.5 million Armenia’s were killed in the Armenian genocide nearly a century ago during the First World War.
For decades–previous Canadian governmen’s refused to call it a genocide for fear of upsetting Turkey.
The killings took place between 1915 and 1920 when one and a half million Armenia’s living in the Ottoman Empire were systematically deported at the start of the war. Scholars refer to the events as the "Armenian genocide."
However–the Genocide–and the way it is described–has been a matter of ongoing dispute between the international community and modern-day Turkey.
Turkish authorities have refused to acknowledge the killings as a genocide–citing the turmoil of life during the First World War as the reason behind the deaths–not state-sponsored mass exterminations.
It is a sensitive issue that–when raised by Canada’s Tory Opposition during the previous minority government–was quickly defeated by reigning Liberals who feared angering the Turkish government by labeling the events as a genocide or condemning it as a crime against humanity.
However–during a news conference Wednesday in southern Manitoba–Prime Minister Harper affirmed his belief that the Armenia’s who died during those years were in fact–subjects of a genocide.
Turkey’s ambassador to Canada thinks the decision goes too far.
"Your own citizens of Turkish origin–they are proud Canadians as much as you are," said Aydemir Erman. "So your own House is branding them as the grandchildren of killers."
To date–23 countries in the international community officially recognize the Genocide–including Argentina–Austria–Belgium–Cyprus–France–Germany–Greece–Italy–Lebanon–Lithuania–the Netherlands–Poland–Russia–Slovakia–Sweden–Switzerland–Uruguay–Vatican City–and Venezuela.
Thirty-nine of 50 US states also recognize the Genocide–although there is no official federal recognition.