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8.1.15

Australian Non-Recognition of the Armenian Genocide Documented

Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) confirm that the issue of the Armenian genocide is sidestepped by the Australian government to please Turkey's demands, as reported on January 8, 2015.
In a letter addressed to then-Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, on May 15, 2014 his Australian colleague Julie Bishop wrote: "Recognising the important interests at stake for both countries, I assure you that there has been no decision to change the long-standing position of successive Australian Governments on this issue."
The letter from the Australian Foreign Minister further emphasizes Turkey's role by qualifying Australia's position on the Armenian Genocide with the words "recognising the important interests at stake for both countries." Bishop continued saying:
“As you are aware, the Australian Government is sympathetic to the Armenian people and other communities that suffered such terrible losses during the tragic events at the end of the Ottoman Empire. The Australian Government does not, however, recognise these events as 'genocide.' We do not seek to intervene in this sensitive historical debate. We believe the issue is best resolved through dialogue between the communities and governments concerned. I acknowledge the recent positive messages from the Turkish Government on this matter."
A large part of the documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) were redacted in full, citing disclosure of documents would cause damage to "the international relations of the Commonwealth."
ANC Australia Executive Director, Vache Kahramanian, commented: "It is obvious that Australia has succumbed to Turkey’s ongoing threats to ban Members of Parliament from attending the Centenary commemorations at ANZAC Cove, and even close ANZAC Cove in its entirety in the lead up to the Centenary, should Australia recognise the events of 1915 as genocide."
The release from DFAT, including Bishop's letter on page 27, can be accessed at .https://dfat.gov.au/foi/downloads/dfat-foi-1410-F953.pdf

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