Dutch govt member to attend Armenian genocide commemoration

A member of the Dutch cabinet will attend the commemoration of the Armenian genocide in Yerevan in April. But that does not mean that the government is making a statement about whether what happened in 1915 was or was not a genocide, Minister Sigrid Kaag of Foreign Affairs said in the Tweede Kamer on Thursday, NOS reports.

According to Kaag, attending the commemoration is only about showing respect "for the terrible events of 1915" in a dignified manner. She compared it to a Minister attending the commemoration of the Netherlands' slavery past. With this, the government is responding to a call from the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament.

It is not yet known which cabinet member will travel to Yerevan for the event. The Netherlands has sent lower ranking representatives in the past, such as a member of parliament or an ambassador.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were murdered in 1915, at the time of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish government insists that this was not a planned genocide, but a war situation. The Turks also say that the Armenians were a danger because they were fighting on the side of the Russian enemy. There are therefore always furious reactions from the Turkish capital of Ankara whenever countries announce recognition of the genocide.

The Kamer also recognized this massacre as a genocide. According to the Kamer, recognizing what happened as a genocide is the first step towards reconciliation. "If we do not remove the sorrow from the past, we will never get to the desired reconciliation Then the conflict between Turkey and Armenia will never disappear", said D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, according to the broadcaster.

The Dutch government will keep referring to "the issue of the Armenian genocide", Kaag said. She pointed out that there is no binding resolution of the UN Security Council, nor a ruling by an international court that calls what happened a genocide. She emphasized that the government wants to be cautious about applying the concept of genocide to the past. "It remains very clear to the government that a large-scale massacre took place", she added.