Parliament of Navarre Recognizes Armenian Genocide

The Parliament of Navarre
The Parliament of Navarre

( PAMPLONA, Spain—The parliament of Spain’s autonomous community of Navarre adopted a measure on Monday recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The measure came after a series of visits by members of the Navarre parliament to Armenia and Artsakh. Navarre lies in the north of Spain and has a sizable population of Basque speakers.

The declaration, adopted by the unicameral Parliament on June 23, reads that “in accordance with the resolution of the European Parliament of June 1987, reaffirmed by subsequent resolutions (February 28, 2002 and April 1, 2004), the events suffered by the Armenian people are an authentic genocide.”

“As we are nearing the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, such declarations clearly show European solidarity with Armenian people and their suffering” commented European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) Director Eduardo Lorenzo Ochoa. “EuFoA is proud that thanks to its extensive network, more and more key European stakeholders are aware of the importance of this issue,” he added.

The declaration denounces the policy of denial developed by the Turkish regime and calls on Turkey “to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia in the spirit of good neighborhood, and to resolve their border dispute peacefully.” In addition, the text underlines that given Turkey’s status as candidate for EU membership, those two issues (the recognition of the Genocide and the normalization of diplomatic relations) should be urgently addressed.

Navarre is a Spanish autonomous region in the north, bordering France, roughly the size of Cyprus, and populated by around 650,000 inhabitants. It is the fourth region in Spain that has recognized the Armenian Genocide, after the Basque Country, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.

Following is the full declaration in Spanish:

El Parlamento aprueba una declaración institucional por la que recuerda el aniversario del genocidio contra el pueblo Armenio y denuncia la política desarrollada por el régimen turco existente en aquel momento.

Aprobación en Mesa y Junta de Portavoces. Día 23 de junio de 2014

La Junta de Portavoces del Parlamento de Navarra ha aprobado una declaración institucional por la que el Parlamento de Navarra recuerda el aniversario del genocidio contra el pueblo Armenio y denuncia la política desarrollada por el régimen existente en aquel momento, presentada por los Grupos Parlamentarios Bildu-Nafarroa y Aralar-Nafarroa Bai.

La declaración ha sido aprobada con los votos a favor de SN, Bildu-Nafarroa, Aralar-NaBai e I-E; en contra han votado UPN y PP.

La declaración dice lo siguiente:

“El Parlamento de Navarra:

1. Recuerda con dolor el aniversario del genocidio contra el pueblo armenio llevado a cabo por el régimen turco existente en aquel momento, que supuso el asesinato de más de dos millones de personas.

2. Considera, de conformidad con la resolución del Parlamento Europeo de junio de 1987, reafirmada por posteriores resoluciones (28 de febrero de 2002 y 1 de abril de 2004), que los hechos sufridos entonces por la población armenia constituyen un auténtico genocidio, de acuerdo con la Convención de las Naciones Unidas para la prevención y castigo del crimen de genocidio, adoptada en diciembre de 1904.

3. Comparte con el Parlamento Europeo que un país en vías de adhesión a la Unión Europea debe abordar y reconocer su pasado, y solicita a Turquía que establezca con Armenia unas relaciones diplomáticas de vecindad buenas y armoniosas y resuelva sus conflictos fronterizos de forma pacífica.

4. Muestra su simpatía por el pueblo armenio, y apoya sus esfuerzos por consolidar su proceso democrático y asentar en la región del Cáucaso un espacio estable de cooperación y libertad.

5. Solicita al Gobierno de España que, a través del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores traslade esta declaración a las instituciones competentes en Armenia y Turquía”.

Presbyterian Church Adopts Resolution on Armenian Genocide Centennial

DETROIT—On Friday, June 20, some 600 commissioners to the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), meeting in Detroit, Mich., adopted with near unanimity a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and adopting the 2015 church calendar designating April 26 as the day for its observance. It also directed the church’s Mission Agency to prepare educational and liturgical resources for member churches in preparation for the event.

This historic resolution, which was the first of its kind for a major American church body, was adopted by the 1.8 million-member church. It originated in the local presbyteries of Los Ranchos (Anaheim, Calif.), Chicago, and Palisades (New Jersey), and was sent on to the national body for adoption. Two overture advocates who played a vital role in this regard were Rev. Dr. Christine Chakoian (Chicago Presbytery) and Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni (Los Ranchos Presbytery). Dr. Chakoian is the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, Ill. Dr. Kassouni is retired, and at present the parish associate of the Tustin Presbyterian Church of Tustin, Calif. Central to the development and writing of the resolution (called an overture) was the staff of the Jinishian Memorial Program (Eliza Minassian, director, and Cara Taylor, coordinator) and the World Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (USA), with Greg Allen-Pickett the general manager of operations.

Assisting Rev. Drs. Chakoian and Kassouni was Rev. Fr. Garabed Kocharian, pastor of St. John’s Armenian Church of Southfield, Mich. They spoke on Mon., June 16, before the meeting of the Peacemaking and International Relations Committee, which had to hear, debate, and approve the resolution, and then send it on to the plenary session for final adoption. Their presentations were coordinated, first in an “open hearing” where Chakoian and Kochakian spoke, and then in the action phase where Kassouni spoke calling on the Assembly to take this historic step and recognize the massacres of 1.5 million as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

The overture includes four key points. One, it urges member congregations to recognize the Armenian Genocide, express deep sympathy to the Armenian people, and designate April 24 every year as the day of remembrance, and honors the provisions of American and international law in this regard. Two, it supports the designation of “genocide” for the death of 1.5 million Armenians and the expulsion of 1 million more from the Ottoman Empire in the years 1915-23.

Three, it directs the stated clerk of the General Assembly to call on the president and the Congress of the United States of America to recognize and condemn the death and expulsion of the Armenians, and to communicate this resolution to our ecumenical partners nationally and internationally. Four, it directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency to encourage appropriate observance of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (subsequently choosing April 26, 2015) in the churches, with accompanying educational and cultural forms of remembrance, noting the important role played in this endeavor by the Jinishian Memorial Program.

The resolution received great support by the committee during its hearings and action. The Plenary Session affirmed its recommendation and adopted it with no opposition. This was a rare occasion when three Armenian clergy (two Protestant and one Apostolic) stood together in strong cooperative witness and support on behalf of the Armenian people. The process took a long time, starting in January 2014, and worked its way up to the General Assembly in June. It’s a great tribute to cooperative, consistent, intelligent, and dedicated effort on behalf of our Armenian people, past and present.