RIGA — Latvia has officially recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide. The Seima (Parliament) voted 58 to 11 with 7 abstentions to adopt a relevant declaration, Armenia’s outgoing Ambassador to Latvia Tigran Mkrtchyan wrote on his Facebook page
The resolution was drafted by the parliament’s foreign affairs committee. It says that the mass killings and deportations of Armenians, which began with the April 1915 mass arrests of Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople, constituted a genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman government. It notes that the European Parliament first recognized the genocide in 1987.
Emphasizing that Latvia condemns all crimes against humanity, the declaration notes that the country sees it as a duty to recognize and remember these crimes in order to prevent their recurrence.
Recognizing that a large number of Armenians were deported to other parts of the empire as a result of the actions of the Ottoman authorities, which resulted in many casualties caused by starvation, atrocities and massacres, the lawmakers condemn the crimes, massacres and forced deportations committed by the Ottoman authorities against the Armenian people.
The declaration respects the memory of all the victims of the Armenian Genocide, pays tribute to all the survivors, affirms that open discussions on historical issues are inextricably linked to the development of a healthy, mature democracy.
The Seima calls on the international community “to assess these historic events, to look to the future we want to build, without violence, intolerance, a future where human rights are respected, where everyone can be free, safe and secure.”
Ambassador Mkrtchyan, hailed the development and thanked Latvian lawmakers for “addressing this issue extremely important for the Armenian people.”
“What was hard to imagine years ago became a reality today,” Mkrtchyan wrote on his Facebook page.
Predictably, the Latvian resolution was condemned by Turkey, which continues to strongly a deny a premeditated government effort to exterminate the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian population. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it is devoid of “any legal basis.”
The vehement Turkish denials are dismissed by most scholars outside Turkey.
The Armenian genocide has also been recognized by the parliaments and/or governments of three dozen other countries, including Latvia’s Baltic neighbor Lithuania as well as the United States, Russia, France, Germany and Italy.
U.S. President Joe Biden used the word “genocide” in his April 24 statement on the 106th anniversary of the World War One-era slaughter of Ottoman Armenians.