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ForMin: Czech MPs’ Armenian genocide resolution not binding

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Prague, April 27 (CTK) – Czech diplomacy has assured Turkey that the Czech Chamber of Deputies’ Armenian genocide resolution from Tuesday is not legally binding and that it is the cabinet, not lawmakers, who is responsible for Prague’s foreign policy, the Foreign Ministry told CTK yesterday.

It confirmed that Turkey has protested against the Czech lower house’s resolution calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a genocide.

The Turkish ambassador, Ahmet Necati Bigali, has conveyed Ankara’s position on the issue to Prague, and the Czech ambassador to Turkey, Pavel Kafka has dealt with the issue as well, the ministry’s spokeswoman Irena Valentova told CTK.

“We told the Turkish side that we are aware of their sensitiveness to the issue, and we also explained the context in which the resolution was passed. We assured Turkey that the position of the Czech government and the Czech Foreign Ministry on the tragic events remains unchanged, which means that the assessment of the tragic events should be made by independent historians,” Valentova said.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, on a visit to Luxembourg, told journalists that the government’s position remains unchanged, though he respects the parliament’s opinion.

“It is important that both parties involved be capable of approaching the events together,” Zaoralek said.

As an example he mentioned Prague’s successful effort to sign a Czech-German declaration with Berlin in the 1990s. “We strived to achieve a joint approach to the events that were horrible for us,” Zaoralek said, referring to the events before, during and after World War Two.

Zaoralek will meet Turkish representatives at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Malta on Friday.

In a resolution on Tuesday, the lower house of Czech parliament called the massacre of Armenians a genocide.

Simultaneously, Czech President Milos Zeman wrote to the Armenian spiritual leader in the Czech Republic that the massacre was one of the biggest atrocities in modern history.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry sharply condemned the lower house’s resolution on its website and also expressed disappointment at the letter written by Zeman.

The Turkish ministry’s director for security affairs conveyed Ankara’s position to ambassador Kafka by phone.

Earlier today, the issue was discussed by a Czech deputy minister and the Turkish ambassador to Prague.

“Both Turkey and the Czech Republic said they want further development of present good bilateral relations. The Turkish side thanked for the Czech ministry’s position and said the Czech Republic is viewed as a country with which Turkey has had good relations for long,” Valentova said.

The Turkish-Czech diplomacy meetings also heard the information that the Chamber of Deputies’ resolution is not legally binding and that the government, not lawmakers, is responsible for formulating Prague’s foreign policy.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said it has taken note of the lawmakers’ resolution.

Valentova said Turkey did not complain using an official note.

“We have not received any official note with a complaint from the Turkish side, to which we would have to react,” she said.

rtj/dr

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