Armenian Genocide Museum
Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - The Assembly of the Syrian people, in the session of Thursday 13 February, unanimously approved a resolution that recognizes as "Genocide" the historical tragedy of the massacres of Armenians perpetrated in the Anatolian Peninsula in the years 1915-1916. "Parliament" reports a statement released by official Syrian media "recognizes and condemns the Genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman state at the beginning of the 20th century".
With yesterday's vote, Syria becomes the first Arab Country to officially recognize and at the highest institutional levels the genocidal nature of the planned persecutions unleashed 105 years ago against the Armenian populations of the territories of present-day Turkey. The resolution of the Syrian People's Assembly comes after weeks of tensions between Ankara and Damascus, following the clashes between the military forces of its countries that took place in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, where the Syrian government army is besieging the last controlled areas by Islamist militias. Syria's recognition of the Armenian Genocide prompted Turkey's immediate official reaction: Hamy Aksoy, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, published a very harsh declaration, in which the Syrian resolution condemning the Armenian "genocide" is labelled as "the image of hypocrisy of a regime that for years indulged all kinds of carnage towards its own people, including those against children; a regime that caused millions of its compatriots to flee and is renowned for its unscrupulousness in the use of chemical weapons".
On March 4, 2015, the Assembly of the Syrian people had already dedicated a "commemorative session" to the Armenian Genocide. The initiative, promoted in particular by Syrian Christian MP Maria Saadeh, had seen the involvement of the members of the Parliamentary Committees for foreign relations and the participation of the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in Syria, Arshak Poladyan, who in his speech had recalled the reception received a hundred years earlier in Syria by Armenians fleeing the massacres planned by the Young Turks government.
Recently (see Fides, 18/5/2019), an appeal to return to Syria and rebuild their homes devastated by the conflict was addressed by President Bashar Assad to the Syrian Armenians who fled the Country in the years of the conflict, finding refuge in Lebanon, in Armenia or other Middle Eastern and Western countries. The explicit return request addressed to Armenian refugees was expressed by the Syrian leader on the occasion of his meeting with Aram I, the Armenian apostolic Catholicos of the Grand House of Cilicia, received in Damascus by President Assad on Tuesday 14 May. On that occasion, the Syrian government media had also reported the praises addressed in that circumstance by Assad to the "patriotic spirit" of the Armenian Syrians, whom he called "exemplary citizens": the Syrian President had praised the contribution they offered to the defense of national unity in the face of the attempt to dismember the Country carried out by what Assad had defined as "terrorist barbarism". Assad had also compared the brutality he attributed to this "terrorist barbarism" with the ferocity of the massacres committed by the Ottomans against the Armenian people. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 14/2/2020)