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CM/AS(2008)Quest511 prov 15 October 20081
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1040 Meeting, 5 November 2008
3 Parliamentary Assembly


3.1 Written Questions by members of the Parliamentary Assembly to the Committee of Ministers

d. Written Question No. 511 by Mr Rustamyan: “Need for recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey”

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Question
:

Considering that the recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915 contributes to respect for human dignity and constitutes an act of prevention of crimes against humanity;

Recalling the stances of the UN, the European Parliament and the parliaments of a number of Council of Europe member states regarding the recognition of the Armenian genocide;

Drawing attention to the positions of many Turkish intellectuals advocating such recognition and deploring the judicial proceedings brought against them under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code;

Considering that Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian genocide will help overcome the enmities of the past and improve relations between Armenia and Turkey, thereby contributing to peace, security and stability in the region;

Believing that in making this admission Turkey will perform an indispensable work of remembrance for the advancement of democracy and human rights in this country;

Mr Rustamyan,

To ask the Committee of Ministers, in the light of the foregoing, to invite the Turkish authorities to recognise the Armenian genocide of 1915 and thus to accept its implications where history is concerned, particularly by encouraging a broad-based debate within Turkish society on the reality of the Armenian genocide, by setting down the Armenian tragedy in Turkish schoolbooks, by fostering academic research and studies about this crime against humanity with the participation of Armenian historians if possible, and by permitting the annual commemoration of these events on its territory, and to commit the Council of Europe to giving this country its assistance in the performance of this work of remembrance.

Draft reply:

1. The Committee of Ministers has carefully considered Written Question No 511 by Mr Rustamyan. In this connection, it underlines that knowledge of the past is essential to understand society as it is today and to prevent a repeat of history’s tragic events. History may sometimes be disturbing, but when taught in a manner that ensures less subjective presentation of past events, it can help to heal conflicts about the past and build greater trust and tolerance within and between states so that today’s challenges can be tackled more effectively in full compliance with the values on which the Council of Europe is based.

2. The Committee of Ministers therefore attaches particular importance to history teaching in a democratic Europe. In this respect, it draws attention to the principles and measures it set out in Recommendation Rec(2001)15 on history teaching in twenty-first-century Europe, which it encourages member states to implement in full. The Committee of Ministers regards history teaching as “a decisive factor in reconciliation, recognition, understanding and mutual trust between peoples”.2 It also regards it as “one of the fundamental parts of the freely agreed building of Europe based on a common historical and cultural heritage, enriched through diversity, even with its conflictual and sometimes dramatic aspects”.2

3. From a pedagogical viewpoint, Recommendation Rec(2001)15 indicates the need for a critical and responsible analysis of information through dialogue and the search for historical evidence as an approach particularly suited to controversial and sensitive issues. In the same vein, the Committee of Ministers also considered worthwhile – as a first step towards reconciliation – the proposal that international scientific studies be undertaken so as to provide objective documentary sources as a basis for political debate on this sensitive issue.

Note 1 This document was classified restricted at the date of issue; it will be declassified in accordance with Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
Note 2 Recommendation Rec(2001)15 on history teaching in twenty-first-century Europe – Appendix – Section 1 “The aims of history teaching in the twenty-first century”


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