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Canada Lawmakers Recognize Armenian Genocide

22 April 2004 -- Canada's parliament yesterday backed a motion declaring that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I.

Yesterday's vote in the House of Commons was 153 "for" and 68 "against."

Armenians say a 1915-23 campaign to drive them out of eastern Turkey amounted to genocide and some 1.5 million Armenians were killed. Turks officially deny this, saying the Armenians were among the many victims of a partisan war during World War I.

Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham had urged legislators not to aggravate NATO ally Turkey by voting in favor of the motion.

After the vote, Graham issued a statement saying the motion will not alter the official Canadian government position that while the events in question at the start of the 20th century were a tragedy, they did not constitute genocide.

A backer of the motion and a member of Canada's ruling Liberal Party, Sarkis Assadourian, dismissed Foreign Ministry warnings of a possible Turkish backlash.

A counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa, Fazli Corman, had told the Reuters news agency that bilateral relations would "suffer" if the motion were adopted.

The French parliament passed a similar motion in 2001.

(RFE/RL and wire reports)