YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–On Wednesday–the European Parliament added its voice to the French government’s calls on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide in order to win membership in the European Union (EU).
Reaffirming its earlier resolutions–the EU’s legislative body urged Turkey to "promote the process of reconciliation with the Armenian people by recognizing the genocide perpetrated against the Armenia’s" in 1915-1923. It also called on the EU’s member states and executive commission to seek Turkish recognition of the genocide during the anticipated accession talks with Ankara.
The calls were part of the European Parliament’s non-binding but important resolution urging EU leaders to give the green light for the start of such talks at this week’s summit. The French government has already indicated that it will press Ankara to end its long-running policy of genocide denial.
Still–France’s Foreign Minister Michel Barnier made it clear that that will not a be precondition for the entry talks–a statement echoed by European Parliament President Josep Borrell. "We are just recognizing certain historical events," Borrell told a news conference in Strasbourg. "We are not stating that this would be a prerequisite to opening negotiations."
The European Parliament also renewed its calls for Turkey to reopen its border with Armenia "as soon as possible." The resolution notes that by repeatedly refusing to do so–Ankara "missed an opportunity to promote good neighborly relations with Armenia."
The Turks imposed the blockade in 1993 out of solidarity with Turkic Azerbaijan and made its lifting contingent on a pro-Azerbaijani solution to the Mountainous Karabagh conflict and an end to the Armenian campaign for international recognition of the genocide.
The resolution was welcomed later on Wednesday by a Brussels-based lobbying group representing Armenian communities in France and other EU countries. "This is a brilliant victory for all those Europeans who want to preserve the European values in the face of an unrepentant state," the president of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy–Hilda Tchoboian–said in a statement.