Bulgaria Could Only Recognize 'Mass Extermination' or Armenians - PM

Politics » DOMESTIC | April 24, 2015, Friday // 11:40
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Could Only Recognize 'Mass Extermination' or Armenians - PM DPS Leader Lyutvi Mestan warns against labeling Armenians' killings in the Ottoman Empire a "genocide". Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov said naming "mass extermination" the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians caused by action of the Ottoman Empire was the only viable option.

"These are the Bulgarian words [in] the Bulgarian dictionary," BGNES wire service quotes him as saying.

In his words, Sofia should also distinguish between the Ottoman Empire (which virtually existed until 1924) and its successor, the Republic of Turkey, which is not involved anyhow in the killings.

Borisov, who made the comments on Friday, the day when the world marks a centenary from the tragic events, is thus ruling out their recognition as "genocide".

The Prime Minister and leader of the biggest party in Parliament, conservative GERB, was to set off for Romania for a joint cabinet meeting on Friday.

But he surprisingly arrived at the National Assembly in the morning to meet members of his party ahead of a vote scheduled for the same day in which MPs are to vote on Bulgaria's official position.

GERB than introduced a proposal under which a bill containing the word "genocide" would replace that term with "mass extermination".

A number of countries, Russia included, recognize the killings as "genocide", but Bulgaria has not yet taken a stance.

Turkey disputes the figure which some historians give putting the number of Armenian victims in the 1910s at up to 1.5 million people, saying between 0.2 and 0.5 million died in what was not tantamount to "genocide".

During debates in Parliament, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the third-largest electoral force and a liberal party claiming to represent ethnic Turks and, increasingly, other minorities, warned against adopting a bill to recognize a "genocide". DPS Chairman Lyutvi Mestan warned such a step would cause relations with Turkey so soar.

A Gallup International Survey ordered by the Armenian embassy in Sofia and released Friday shows nearly a third (31%) of Bulgarians believe the killings amount to a "genocide".

At the same time, a staggering 61 percent of respondents have never heard of the events.

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Tags: Armenians, Boyko Borisov, parliament, genocide, mass extermination, GERB, DPS, Centenary, turkey, Ottoman Empire
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