Samvel Petrosyan

Samvel Petrosyan. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–An ethnic Armenian parliamentarian in the Georgian parliament calls the assembly to formally recognize the Armenian genocide, which began a century ago in Turkey.

Ethnic Azerbaijani MPs are against, arguing that it is not a matter for the Georgian parliament to decide.

Armenia, which has common borders with Georgia and Turkey, has poor relations with Turkey because the latter doesn’t recognize the Armenian genocide.

In 1916-1918, the Ottoman Empire killed over one million Armenians living in Turkey. April 24, 1915 is considered the beginning of this process, when leaders of the Ottoman Empire arrested up to 250 Armenian intellectuals and the head of the Armenian diaspora in Constantinople.

The process continued during the first World War and after the war was over. There were two stages. The total number of casualties has been estimated to between one and one and a half million. Assyrians and Greeks were also killed in large numbers, while other minorities were also harassed.

The current government of Turkey categorically rejects calling it a genocide, but many states regard it as such.

For years, Armenians living in Georgia have been gathering at the Turkish embassy every April 24 to pay tribute to those who died and demand that the Georgian government also recognizes it as a genocide.

Wednesday, Samvel Petrosyan, a majoritarian MP for Akhalkalaki, a town populated mostly by ethnic Armenians called for parliament to recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide.

Petrosyan said that it is necessary to recognize it in order to avoid repeating the same crime in the future.

“I am sure if the Armenian genocide was condemned in the right time different tragedies in different corners of the world would have been avoided. Such crime shouldn’t be repeated against any nation,” he said and called on democratic states to condemn and recognize the genocide.

For several years, in mid April, Petrosyan has made such a call but is quite passive about other issues.

Two ethnic Azerbaijani MPs confronted him.

Armenia and Azerbaijan has an unresolved conflict over the territory Nagorno-Karabakh which dates back to the breakup of the Soviet Union more than twenty years ago. The two countries have no diplomatic relations and are technically still at war over the region, and from time to time there are border shootings and casualties. Turkey is a partner with Azerbaijan.

MP Makhir Darziev said parliament is not the right place to talk about recognition of the Armenian genocide. He said it is not in Georgia’s national interest to discuss this issue.

Another MP, Azer Suleimanov from Marneuli, supported Darziev.

“I don’t know of which genocide my colleague was talking about. This wasn’t a genocide but civic confrontation, civil war.”

Ethnic Georgian MPs didn’t comment on this issue. The government also avoids making direct comments about it.