The City of Edinburgh Council


November 17, 2005

EDINBVRGH
The City of Edinburgh Council

Committee Minutes

The City of Edinburgh Council
Year 2005/2006

Meeting 8- Thursday November 2005
Edinburgh, 17 November 2005 -- At a meeting of The City of Edinburgh Council.

Present:-

LORD PROVOST

The Right Honourable Lesley Hinds

COUNCILLORS

Elaine Aitken, Rev Ewan Aitken, Robert C Aldridge, Donald Anderson, Phil Attridge, Jeremy R Balfour, Ian J Berry, Andrew Burns, Robert Cairns, Stephen Cardowine, Maureen M Child, Bill Cunningham, Trevor Davies, Jennifer A Dawe, Michael P Dixon, Paul G Edie, Edward B Fallon, William Fitzpatrick, Shelia Gilmore, George Grubb,The Hon David Guest, Kenneth Harrold, Ricky Henderson, George A Hunter, Allan G Jackson, Shami Khan, Douglas J Kerr, Allan Laing, John Longstaff, Jim Lowrie, Gordon Mackenzie, Kate MacKenzie, Fred Mackintosh, Marilyne A MacLaren, Elizabeth Maginnis, Lawrence Marshall, Mark Mclnnes, Eric Milligan, Gordon J Munro, Ian Murray, Jack O'Donnell, Liz O'Malley, Alastair Paisley, Ian Perry, Thomas V Ponton, Frank K Russel, Jason G Rust, Andrew A Scobbie, Lorna Shiels, Kingsley E F Thomas, Marjorie Thomas, Susan B Tritton, David J Walker, Phil Wheeler, Lain Whyte, Chris Wigglesworth, Donald Wilson

1 Armenia

A motion had been submitted by Councillor Anderson on events in Anatolia in 1915.

(a) Deputations

The Council agreed to hear the following deputations on Councillor Anderson's motion:

(i) British Turkish Committee for Dialogue (BTCD); Committee for the Protection of Turkish Rights (CPTR) and Turkish Federation of Associations in the UK

The deputations raised objections to the assigned order of speaking for the deputations claiming that it was contrary to natural justice. They questioned the Council's consideration of the matter arguing that it was more appropriate for issues of this nature to be debated and decided upon by international bodies such as the United Nations or the International Court of Justice at the Hague. They also advised that an international court in Malta in the 1920s had found that the Ottoman government had not committed genocide.

(ii) Campaign for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (CRAG) and Armenian Community and Church Council of Great Britain (ACCC)

The deputations asserted that the deaths of Armenians in Anatolia in 1915 had been part of an organised campaign by the Ottoman government. They asked the Council to recognise events in 1915 as genocide in the belief that it would close this chapter of history and assist the process of reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples.

Following questions from members, the Lord Provost thanked the deputations for their presentation and invited them to remain for the debate on the matter.

(b) Motion by councilor Anderson

The following motion by Councillor Anderson was submitted in terms of Standing Order 28:

"The Council notes that a growing number of Parliaments around the world have recognised the deaths of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children in 1915 (during WW1) as genocide by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. This Council notes and supports the efforts of representatives of the Armenian community in Edinburgh and worldwide in seeking recognition of the genocide and raising awareness of the need for increasing openness and historical understanding of the scale and nature of these events in the interests of humanity, justice and future peaceful international relations.

The Council also notes the symposium entitled "Remembering the Past, Looking Forward to the Future" that took place on 20 May 2005 in the presence of His Excellency Dr. Vahe Gabrielyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia."

Motion

1) To note that a number of Parliaments around the world had recognised as genocide events that began in Anatolia in 1915, including, most recently an 82% vote in favor of recognition in the European Parliament on 28 September 2005. To note also that recognition was acknowledged when Edinburgh hosted the UK's Annual Holocaust Memorial Day in 2003.

2) To recognize that atrocities and tragedies occurred on all sides in the conflicts which began in 1915 but to support the view that the Ottoman actions against the Armenian community did constitute genocide.

3) To welcome the Turkish application for membership of the European Union and to support dialogue and reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples and not to support the view that genocide recognition should be made a condition for membership of the European Union.

- moved by Councillor Anderson, seconded by Councillor Wigglesworth.

Amendment 1

1) To recognize that many respectable historians agreed to that massacres of many peoples, not least Armenians, took place during the end days of the Ottoman Empire.

2) To acknowledge, however, that the Council did not have the responsibility, resources or expertise to reach a decisive view on these matters.

3) To note that the British Government was unable to agree that the Armenian deaths should be classified as "genocide", in particular having regard to the meaning under the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.

4) To encourage those supporting the motion and those opposing it to make representation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office rather than the Council.

5) To acknowledge that the Council's role was to build bridges between the various communities it served in Edinburgh, not to interfere or destroy them.

6) To regret, therefore, that the Council Leader had allowed the Council to be placed in a position such that it appeared to be "taking sides" in a delicate international matter.

-moved by Councillor Kerr, seconded by Councillor Mackintosh.

Amendment 2

To take no action on the matter.

- moved by Councillor Kerr, seconded by Councillor Mackintosh.

Voting

Amendment 2 by Councillor Kerr that no action be taken on the matter was defeated by 29 votes to 2.

The voting between the motion and amendment 1 was as follows:

For the motion -- 29 votes
For amendment 1 -- 16 votes

Decision

To approve the motion by Councillor Anderson.

(References -- Act of Council No 30 of 30 June 2005; e-mails from the British Turkish Committee for Dialogue (BTCD) 28 October 2005, the Committee for the Protection of Turkish Rights (CPTR) 2 November 2005, the Turkish Federation of Associations in the UK 4 November 2005, the Campaign for the Recognition of Armenian Genocide (CRAG) 3 November 2005 and the Armenian Community and Church Council of Great Britain (ACCC) 16 November 2005, submitted.)