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Briner sets record straight over Turkey debate

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  • Briner sets record straight over Turkey debate

    Briner sets record straight over Turkey debate

    swissinfo
    August 11, 2005 9:33 PM

    Peter Briner (right) explains his views on the controversial issue
    (Keystone)Peter Briner, president of the Senate foreign-affairs
    committee, has denied stating Turkey's massacre of Armenians will
    never be debated in the Senate.

    The Senate member was reported at the beginning of August as saying
    countries had no business pointing the finger at Turkey 90 years after
    the disputed events.



    Briner, a member of the centre-right Radical Party, maintains the
    Senate's position is that a committee of historians from the two
    countries involved should investigate the events of 1915.

    The Swiss House of Representatives recognised the death of up to 1.8
    million Armenians as genocide in 2003. But unlike many western
    governments, the Swiss government does not officially speak of
    "genocide" but of "mass deportation" and "massacre".

    The Turkish government rejects that it was genocide, claiming that the
    Armenian deaths as a result of mass evacuation and starvation were not
    a result of a state-sponsored plan of extermination.

    swissinfo: You say reports are false which claim you said the Senate
    will never recognise the Turkish massacre of Armenians 90 years ago as
    genocide. What is the Senate's position regarding those events?

    Peter Briner: Those reports are based on either a misquote or a
    misunderstanding - and this is of course most regrettable. What I did
    say was that when the Swiss House of Representatives had [voted to]
    recognise the genocide, this was not an issue in the Senate.

    The policy of our government - and the Senate foreign-affairs
    committee - is that the two countries involved, Turkey and Armenia,
    should investigate the terrible events of 1915 with a committee of
    historians from both sides.

    swissinfo: Two years ago the House of Representatives recognised the
    massacre as genocide. Why did the debate not pass to the Senate?

    P.B.: The House of Representatives vote was only [in response to] a
    motion and not on the parliament's agenda. We discussed this and we
    felt that the policy of our government was the wiser course.

    swissinfo: So the Armenian question is still a topic of discussion for
    the Senate?

    P.B.: I can never be sure what will be on the Senate's agenda, of
    course, but right now the postponement of Economics Minister Joseph
    Deiss' invitation to Turkey will certainly be discussed during our
    next committee meeting on August 23.

    swissinfo: Morally, shouldn't the Senate recognise the Armenian deaths
    as genocide like other western countries?

    P.B.: I think that the position of our government is the better one. I
    don't feel comfortable being the judge of the whole world and of
    something that happened a long time ago.

    These are evidently terrible events and I think that they should be
    investigated, but they should be primarily investigated by the parties
    involved.

    swissinfo: How would you describe Swiss-Turkish relations at the
    moment?

    P.B.: They are normally good - we felt this when a delegation of the
    Senate foreign-affairs committee visited the Turkish parliament last
    September. Then a Turkish delegation visited us this summer and we
    talked about these things in a friendly way.

    Relations have of course been strained by recent events but I think in
    the long run good relations will prevail. I think relations between
    the two countries will remain good and prosper as they have done in
    the past.

    swissinfo-interview: Thomas Stephens

    http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissin...=1123784833000
    [url]http://www.ArmenianAncestry.com[/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]
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