The Hague, 22 February 2018 – The House of Representatives of the Netherlands today adopted two motions from MP of ChristianUnion Party Joël Voordewind, with 142 to 3 votes. One motion explicitly recognises the Armenian Genocide by the House of Representatives, after already in 2004 the House recognised it with the more implicit motion by MP Rouvoet. The other motion asks the government to send a minister to the Armenian capital Yerevan this year, and every lustrum, to attend the commemoration ceremonies of the Armenian genocide there on 24 April.
All factions voted in favour of the motions, except the three members of Turkish Dutch Party “Denk”.
The Cabinet will discuss the details of the motion about attending the commemoration in Yerevan and send a letter to the House of Representatives.
MP of the PVV Party Raymond de Roon (Freedom Party) also submitted a motion, stating that the government should no longer speak of “Quation of the Armenian Genocide” but of the “Armenian Genocide”. This motion did not make it, because the coalition parties voted against, as did PvdA (Labour) and Denk. Seven parties voted in favour: PVV, Socialist Party, SGP (Reformed Political Party), GreenLeft, 50PLUS, Party for the Animals and Forum for Democracy.
The Minister Sigrid Kaag, a senior UN official before she became Minister last year, indicated to be very involved with the Armenians, of whom she had met many in her career. She has also participated in commemorations before.
Nevertheless, she defended the government’s position, that the issue should be addressed as a “Question of the Armenian Genocide” and not “Armenian Genocide”. According to the cabinet’s position, the Armenian Genocide does not meet the three criteria of the Dutch government to name it as a “genocide”, such as a binding judgment of the United Nations Security Council, a decision by an international court of law or court of justice and unequivocal conclusions from scientific research. The Cabinet’s position is, according to the government, only applicable to “current events”, but still historical events such as the Armenian Genocide are also judged by these criteria.
During the debate, a group of Armenians was present in the stands. Two people were removed because the text “Erken Armeense Genocide” (Recognise Armenian Genocide) was visible on their shirts.
Reaction of Armenian organisations
The Joint Armenian Organisations welcome the explicit recognition by the House of Representatives and the presence of a Dutch minister in Yerevan on 24 April to attend the commemoration ceremony, which implies an implicit recognition by the Dutch government.
However, the Joint Armenian Organisations will continue to insist that the government also explicitly recognises the Armenian Genocide and will – as soon as possible – speak plainly of the “Armenian Genocide”.