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County recognises 'genocide' - Gwynedd Council is the first local authority in Wales to recognise killings of Armenians during World War One as Genocide - 5 March 2004

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5 March 2004 - !! NEWS ALERT !! - GWYNEDD COUNTY COUNCIL PASSES PRECEDENT-SETTING MOTION RECOGNISING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

CRAG EXPRESSES ITS APPRECIATION TO THE GWYNEDD COUNTY COUNCIL FOR ITS AVANT-GARDE MOTION, AND CONGRATULATES WALES-ARMENIA SOLIDARITY FOR ITS TIRELESS EFFORTS

CRAG joins today many other Armenian and non-Armenian organisation in the UK, Europe and worldwide in expressing its deep satisfaction at a precedent-setting event that took place in Wales on 4 March 2004.

For the first time in the UK, a County Council passed a Motion that recognises the Armenian Genocide and calls upon Turkey to end its crippling economic blockade of Armenia.

FOR MORE DETAILS FROM WALES-ARMENIA SOLIDARITY ...

On Thursday, 4 March 2004, in response to requests from Wales -Armenia Solidarity, Dafydd Iwan, President of the Plaid Cymru Party, put forward a Motion at the Gwynedd County Council. This Motion (as outlined hereunder) received overwhelming favourable support - with cross-party support from The Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, Independent Wales Party, Councillors of the Independent group, as well as the majority Plaid Cymru Councillors.

The Press Release issued by Wales-Armenian Solidarity also reminded that, upon the initiative of Wales-Armenia Solidarity and with full support from CRAG, the majority of the Members of the National Assembly of Wales had also signed a similar Declaration of Opinion on 30 October 2002.

The press release added that Wales' Prime Minister Rhodri Morgan recognised the genocide in a personal capacity at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff on 24 April 2001. This, however, is the first time that any elected body in Wales or the UK has voted to recognise the truth of the Genocide.

A trigger mechanism would allow this Motion, as approved by Gwynedd County Council, to be circulated to all local authorities in Wales for their support and signature.

'Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh serve as inspirations for all small nations who have previously been silenced, and it is the sacred duty of nations like Wales to make their voice heard on these issues", said a spokesperson for Wales-Armenia Solidarity. It added, "We hope that this will result in the re-emergence of a bond of friendship between our two nations. [A Wales-Armenia Society existed in 1896]. We hope to establish a cultural exchange in the future.'

Commenting on this significant development, and the success of the Motion, Raffi Sarkissian, from the CRAG Board, stressed that 'this Motion is a memorable achievement in the field of human rights, and it is the hope of CRAG that the British Government will follow suit and recognise also the truth of the Armenian Genocide as have done many British politicians, historians and writers in the past.'

The Motion: "Gwynedd Council:

1 Recognises the truth of the Genocide of the Armenians that occurred under the Turkish government in 1915

2 Calls on Turkey to end its economic blockade of the Republic of Armenia

3 Calls on the government of Britain and the National Assembly of Wales not to support Turkish entry into the European Union until the Turkish government has recognised the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and has ended its economic blockade of Armenia"

4 Calls on the Local Authorities of Wales to support this declaration.

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HE Mr Dafydd Iwan, President, Plaid Cymru, County Councillor, Gwynedd, Carrog, Rhos-bach, Caethro, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 2TF - 5 March 2004

Dear Mr Daffyd Iwan :

Warm and collegial greetings!

On behalf of CRAG, the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, allow me to thank you for putting forward to the Gwynedd County Council yesterday a Motion that calls upon Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide.

The success of that Motion, and the unanimous votes that it garnered across all parties in the County Council, is a testimony both to your own enterprising spirit as well as to the political courage of all Councillors who chose not to veer away from the historical truth.

Given the unanimity that was secured for this Motion yesterday, it is very much our hope that all the other Local Authorities in Wales would follow suit and either adopt their own Motions or lend their signatures to this Motion. We at CRAG remain ready to support any such move, and to lend any assistance that you deem helpful or desirable toward this end.

With this avant-garde political achievement by Plaid Cymru, it is also our hope at CRAG that the British Government would at long last follow suit and adhere to the testimony of its own politicians, historians, scholars and researchers who have proved time and again the veracity of the Armenian Genocide and the undeniability of this chapter in human suffering.

We would also like to thank Wales-Armenia Solidarity, and particularly Mr Eilian Williams, for their untiring efforts in the direction of helping enhance Welsh-Armenian relations and in striving to secure recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Thanking you once more - Raffi Sarkissian - Chair, CRAG

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