Britain was accused of "genocide denial" today after the disclosure of Foreign Office documents revealing the government's refusal to recognise the so-called Armenian massacre of 1915, in which up to a million people died.
The documents, dating back over the last 15 years, say Anglo-Turkish relations are too important to be jeopardised by the issue because "Turkey is neuralgic and defensive about the charge of genocide".
One Foreign Office briefing for ministers conceded that the British government "is open to criticism in terms of the ethical dimension", but goes on to say: "The current line is the only feasible option" owing to "the importance of our relations (political, strategic and commercial) with Turkey". The 1999 briefing said: "Recognising the genocide would provide no practical benefit to the UK."
Britain's stance, stretching back over Labour and Tory administrations, was called a cynical "genocide denial" by Geoffrey Robertson, the QC who served as first president of the UN war crimes court for Sierra Leone. Robertson was commissioned by Armenian expatriate groups in London to review the foreign office files, obtained in heavily redacted form from freedom of information requests. He published a report today which says: "Parliament has been routinely misinformed by ministers who have recited FCO briefs without questioning their accuracy." [...]