Czech President Says Ottoman Mass Killings Constitute ‘Genocide


PRAGUE (RFE/RL and Armenpress) — Czech President Milos Zeman said this week that the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey amounted to “genocide.”

“Next year it will be 100 years since the genocide of the Armenian people in the year of 1915, when 1.5 million of Armenians died,” Zeman said during Armenian President Serge Sargisian’s official visit to Prague on January 30.

The Czech Republic, a member of the European Union and NATO, is not among the 23 countries that formally recognize the mass killings as genocide.

Zeman took office last year.

Czech Senator Jaromir Stetina welcomed the statement of the Czech president about the Armenian Genocide. He has regularly advocated for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide at the course of his activities.

In a conversation with Armenpress, Stetina said that he intends to introduce a declaration on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide to foreign relations and defense committees of the Parliament of Czech Republic on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. “The declaration will be introduced in 2015 ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I would like Czech Senate to join the civilized parliaments which have recognized the Armenian Genocide. Preparatory work activities towards the declaration will launch in late 2014,” Czech Senator stated. Jaromír Štětina strongly hopes that the official visit of the President of Czech Republic to Armenia by the invitation of the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan will greatly contribute to the adoption of the declaration on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Czech Senator also assessed positively the meeting of the President of the Republic of Armenia with the spiritual leader of the Czech Republic, Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka who supports the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Zeman hosted a state dinner in honor of Sargisian, during which the latter offered a toast to the Czech Republic, the prospects of closer ties, historical relations of the two peoples, the Armenian community of the Czech Republic, which introduces a natural bridge for the Armenian-Czech relations and several other subjects.

Among other things the both sides emphasized that the friendship of the Armenian and Czech peoples is a firm basis for the development and strengthening of interstate ties.

Sargisian expressed his gratitude and stressed that the Armenian people remembers with acknowledgement the names of the worthy sons of the Czech people, such as President of Czechoslovakia Tomas Masaryk and his contemporary, Czech author and humanist Karel Hansa, whose humanistic and socio-political activity spread light on the Armenian Genocide, which was the first genocide of the 20th century.

EU powers and NATO members France and Germany are among those who have recognized it as “genocide.”