NICOSIA — The Cypriot parliament passed a resolution on Thursday making it a crime to publicly deny the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
A bill unanimously passed by the parliament made corresponding changes in the country’s existing legislation dealing with denial of crimes against humanity. Until now it required prior rulings by international courts.
“Today is a historic day,” the parliament speaker, Yiannakis Omirou, said, according to the Reuters news agency. “It allows parliament to restore, with unanimous decisions and resolutions, historical truths.”
Armenia was quick to commend Cyprus for criminalizing genocide denial. “This is a symbolic event coming on the eve of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a written statement.
“With the passage of this bill Cyprus has made an important contribution to the noble task of preventing genocides and crimes against humanity,” added Nalbandian.
The passage of the Cypriot bill coincided with a visit to Nicosia by an Armenian parliamentary delegation headed by speaker Galust Sahakian. The latter was due to meet with Omirou on Thursday.
The island nation was one of the first countries worldwide in 1975 to recognize the Armenian genocide.