Sweden labels mass killing of Armenians genocide

March 12, 2010
Source: The Associated Press

By Karl Ritter

STOCKHOLM — Sweden's parliament narrowly approved a resolution Thursday recognizing the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Turkey as genocide.

Swedish news agency TT said Turkey recalled its ambassador from Sweden to protest the surprise decision, which was taken in a 131-130 vote in the 349-seat assembly. Eighty-eight lawmakers were absent during the vote.

"After 95 years it is time for people who have suffered so long to obtain redress," said Gulan Avci, a Liberal Party lawmaker who broke with her party's line and voted to recognize the Armenian genocide. Avci is a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey.

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

The governing center-right coalition opposed the measure but it passed because a handful of center-right lawmakers sided with the left-leaning opposition, which had proposed the resolution.

In the U.S., a congressional committee approved a similar resolution last week in a 23-22 vote that would send the measure to the full House of Representatives, if the leadership decided to bring it up. Minutes after the vote, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to the U.S.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he regretted the Parliament's decision, saying it "will unfortunately not have a positive effect on the ongoing normalization process between Turkey and Armenia."

Turkish Ambassador to Sweden Zergun Koroturk told TT she had received instructions to go back to Turkey immediately after the vote.

"It's logical," she was quoted as saying.