ATA-A Press Release

July 18, 2014

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop reassures the Turkish Community in Australia that Australia do not recognise the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ and states and territories have no constitutional role in the formulation of Australian Foreign policy.

On a letter sign by herself, Julie Bishop responded to our CEO Mr Ertunc Ozen’s concerns about the motions passed by the NSW Parliament in 2013 and 2014. After acknowledging the devastating effects of the WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire had on later generations and on their identity, the Minister clearly and openly says :” We do not, however recognise these events as ‘genocide’.”

“The issue should be resolved through dialogue”

Ms Bishop also encourages Turkey and Armenia to ratify the protocols signed by both parties in 2009 to normalise the relations . She also says that Australian Government’s long standing approach the matter is not to become involved in this sensitive debate. She advises both sides to resolve the issue through dialogue.

The minister concludes the letter by praising the common history and partnership of Australia and Turkey and says “We value the contribution that Turkish Australians have made to our community.”

ATA-A CEO Ertunc Ozen has welcomed the letter and said “Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance’s countless efforts of dialogue has been rejected by the Armenian Lobby, and this letter reassures that the Parliaments are not the places to legislate history”. Mr Ozen says, genocide is a matter for International Courts and there has been no International Court decision recognising the events as “genocide” including the UN, International Court of Justice and EU Human Rights Court, in the last 99 years, moreover EU Human Rights Court rebuked a Swiss court decision to penalise “to deny the events of 1915 as genocide” saying “The Event of 1915 is a highly debated issue and there is no academic consensus.”

On April 23rd 2014, Turkey’s PM has issued an historic statement “sharing the pain of the Armenian community” and “offering condolences” which was welcomed by the western countries including United States but could not impress the Armenians. At a press release Armenian National Committee of Australia called the statement as “a repacking of the genocide denial”, using the exact wording from the Armenian National Committee of America.

Only 20 countries out of 194 independent states recognise the events of 1915 as “genocide”, not surprisingly all of the 20 countries have a strong Armenian Diaspora. Out of those, only 6 are among the G20 countries while United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, Norway and Denmark are some of the countries who do not recognise the events of 1915 as a genocide.

Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance supports open debate on the issue by the historians and says that “Australia has many more other issues to worry about like constitutional recognition of the Aboriginal Australians, immigration policies and budget debates, and it should keep its objective position on such highly debated ‘foreign’ issues. ATA-A also reminds that “Ataturk’s words for the ANZAC soldiers and the friendship between Australia and Turkey are the text book examples of reconciliation. 2015 should be the year we remember the value of this friendship.” ATA-A condemns the lobbies who turn the foreign historical issues into a political football in Australia for their own political gains.

Australian Turkish Advocacy Alliance