Following Canada’s official recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 2004, that recognition became entrenched in Canadian politics by the statement our Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper made in 2006.
Today, on the eve of the worldwide Centennial commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, we believe our government still stands by those declarations. Nevertheless, we find certain elements in Prime Minister Harper’s most recent statement (see below) disturbing, namely, the process of reconciliation to which our Prime Minister refers.
Our view remains that any process of reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey cannot advance in a vacuum. For that process to begin, Turkey must prove its goodwill by moving beyond words of condolence to the descendants of the Genocide survivors and assume its historical responsibilities, to rectify the injustice done to the Armenian people by the Turkish state.
These responsibilities consist foremost of an official recognition of the Genocide, as Canada and other nations around the world have done, followed by the deployment of a legal framework to make moral and material reparations to the Armenian people.
Canada’s role in bringing Armenia and Turkey together begins by encouraging Turkey to come to terms with its own past. Excusing Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide is unfair to Turkey, unfair to Armenia, and undermines our collective ability to prevent future genocides.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we hope that Canada stands on the right side of history and works with the people of Turkey, who today increasingly question their government’s propaganda and seek to know the truth.
April 24, 2014
Statement by the Prime Minister to the Armenian–Canadian Community
On this day we remember the terrible loss of life during the demise of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, and in particular the horrific suffering endured by the Armenian people. Both houses of Parliament have adopted resolutions referring to these events as “the first genocide of the twentieth century.” This is a day we acknowledge solemnly, not to cast blame back into the distant past, but to guide us towards a better future. It reminds us all why we must remain committed to ensuring that today’s world is one where respect for human rights and democratic freedom prevails.
Today, Canadians of Armenian and Turkish origin live together, sharing our values of tolerance and openness. We support efforts by Armenia and Turkey to seek a path towards reconciliation including an open border, the establishment of diplomatic relations and the implementation of a dialogue on the events of 1915. We welcome the talks between the Foreign Ministers of both countries in December 2013, and support the reconciliation process set out in the Zurich Protocols signed in October 2009.
On this day of remembrance, we praise those on both sides who seek to achieve a common understanding with honesty and in a spirit of goodwill.
I join with you today in remembering the past and in sharing hope for a future based on peace and mutual respect.
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada