5th session of the Genocide Centennial Commission held in Yerevan

Today, at the Government Reception House, there took place the 5th session of the State Commission on Coordination of the events for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which was presided over by the Chairman of the commission and RA President Serzh Sargsyan.

Besides the commission members, representatives of regional centenary committees, experts, diplomatic representatives of the Republic of Armenia and leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church dioceses took part in the enlarged session. The Armenian President extended his thanks to the participants for accepting the invitation and for personally attending this session, attaching great value to holding the session in such effective formats, which, according to him, allows them to jointly discuss issues of national importance and adopt concerted decisions.

Serzh Sargsyan informed the participants that recently the regional committee representatives had held meetings with the chief coordinator of the events and other member of the state commission to discuss the preparatory works in different countries of the world. They will continue to their work tomorrow in order to discuss the synchronization of the April 22-24 programs and the upcoming activities.

In his speech, the Armenian President reflected upon the work carried out by the state commission until now and the upcoming programs, as well as upon the vital agenda items to be discussed at the session. The commission members will discuss the political context around the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the issue concerning the adoption of the Pan-Armenian Declaration on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as well as issues pertaining to the commemorative events and the works of compiling a package of legal claims on overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide. During the session, there is also to take place the presentation of the Genocide centenary webpage.


Remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan at the 5th session of the State Commission on Coordination of the events for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
Distinguished President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,

Your Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians,

Your Holiness Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia,

Your Beatitude Catholicos Patriarch of the House of Cilicia,

Your Eminences,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to extend my appreciation to all of you for accepting my invitation and personally attending today’s session of the state commission. I understand that all the participants are overloaded with work, especially in the year of the Armenian Genocide centenary. I would like to stress the importance of such effective formats which allow us to jointly discuss the issues of national importance and adopt concerted decisions.

At this time, we are taking the preparatory works of the events for the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide centenary to their logical conclusion, thus starting their implementation.

Just now, we opened the museum after Komitas, a man who has become the symbol of the sufferings endured by our people during the genocide and, at the same time, of its heroic counterblow. A few years ago, at this same hall, during the session of the Board of Trustees of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund we suggested that the abandoned building of the former house of culture belonging to the fund and located at the Komitas Pantheon serve exactly that purpose. Financed by the Pyunik Foundation and the commission member Gabriel Jambarjyan and designed by the beloved architect Arthur Meschyan, the building was reconstructed and replenished with new exhibition areas. The exhibition and screenplay were created by the efforts of our young, but clever museologist Vardan Karapetyan and his team, and today we are glad to see the results of their endeavors. On behalf of all the participants and all our people, I would like extend my thanks to all those who were involved in the implementation of this project.

I attach great weight to the fact that it is exactly a museum-institute that is found in that new building where the Komitas’ legacy will not only presented itself to the public, but also will get close and undivided scientific attention.

Dear colleagues,

At this session, we are going to adopt the Pan-Armenian Declaration on the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Of course, this is a vital document which is unique both in its form and its content. For the first time, we are adopting a document of national significance not through some state body, not by separate segments of the Armenian nation, but with the participation of all the organizations representing Armenians all over the world.

All public administration bodies of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church with all its hierarchical sees and the largest ecclesiastical, charitable, cultural and other diaspora-based organizations have worked on the declaration and expressed their approved of it.

We were frequently accused of not knowing what to demand from the world and from Turkey, regarding the Armenian Genocide. Do we expect various states to officially recognize it? What do we expect from Turkey? What do we want, and what is the foundation for our fight? Where are we going, and what is our precept for coming generations?

Availing myself of this opportunity, I extend my appreciation to all the members of our editorial committee present at today’s session for the colossal amount of work carried out skillfully, I am grateful to the members of the state commission and the regional centenary committees who have made hundreds of proposals, amendments and changes throughout the drafting process. I think that as a result, we have a solid and comprehensive text which will become both an ideological basis for the commemorative events of the 100th anniversary and a roadmap for our future acidities.

After being approved by the commission, the declaration will be published in seven languages, including Western Armenian. Hence, it will be available to all those who are interested in it. I am asking all the members of the commission and the regional centenary committees, our diplomats, journalists, pedagogues and all our compatriots who will reflect upon the 100th anniversary to follow only this text and the provisions set forth in it in order to make ourselves heard loud and ensure our unity.

Dear colleagues,

Today’s session will also be marked by our discussion of the preparatory works pertaining to the new exhibition at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. As you remember, during the previous session, we established a committee to work in that direction. Today we will visit the museum and see the progress in person. The construction works both inside the museum building and the entire memorial complex have finished. I would like to extend my thanks once again to the Pyunik Foundation and Mr. Gabriel Jambarjyan, VivaCell-MTS, the Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine and the benefactors Maxim Hakobyan and Armen Shahazizyan for financing the reconstruction of the memorial complex and the museum, to the architect Sashur Kalashyan and the entire building staff, to my Adviser Felix Pirumyan who coordinated their works and, of course, the Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Hayk Demoyan for creditably accomplishing that difficult work.

Dear colleagues,

The main goal of our events is to keep the great bulk of the international community informed, make our cause known clearly among the international civil society, historians and genocide scholars, lawyers, political figures and states.

Today, we will also attend the launching ceremony of the official website of the State Commission on Coordination of the events for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Aside from information about our current events and programs, the website will also include summaries of news about the 100 anniversary from international and Armenian media outlets. Moreover, it will also embrace another newscast picked from century-old media repercussions. Thus, every day the website will release “news” published in Armenian and international media outlets a century ago. I think it will help the website remain in the focus of attention. It could also become a useful mechanism for Armenian schools all over the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We decided to extend this session and invited representatives of regional centenary committees, experts, diplomatic representatives of the Republic of Armenia and leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church dioceses.

Recently, the representatives of regional centenary committees held meetings with the chief coordinator of the events and other state commission members to discuss the preparatory works in different countries of the world. They will continue their work tomorrow in order to discuss the synchronization of the April 22-24 programs and their future activities.

I welcome our committee representatives who have arrived from abroad and extend my appreciation for their tireless endeavors and exceptional contributions.

When I looked through the reports on the works carried out by commissions, the event programs designed by them and the works already implemented, I first of all noticed the huge strength that we possess. I am condiment that contrary to all sinister people, the 100th anniversary will become not a period of self-exhaustion of our diaspora and community organizations, but a period of a new rise, consolidation and a loud voice of the new generation.

I would like to draw special attention to our compatriots who, responding to my call, expressed their full readiness to be involved in our projects and continue to do so until now. Of course, the state budget of the Republic of Armenia has allocated appropriate resources. However, I place great value on the fact that this program will be financed by the efforts of all our people and all our communities. This is a serious message by itself.

Dear colleagues,

The decision of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church to sanctify the victims and martyrs of the Armenian Genocide lies at the core of the centenary. It is a unique moral and spiritual moment for all our people, as it is directly concerned with almost each Armenian family.

It is very important that during the Sanctification Ritual we act from a position of national consolidation and upsurge. It is important that our sisters and brothers all over the world join together in following that mysterious ritual, that they are able to witness and participate, via live stream, in the ceremony to be held at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and that they are also visible to our compatriots gathered near the Open Tabernacle via live broadcasting. Indeed, the bell ringing and the 100 blows of the bad news messenger on April 23 at 19.15 Armenian time at all Armenian and a number of other Christian churches, as well as the minute of silence to be followed immediately after it should be unifying.

In the days before today’s session and tomorrow the office of the chief coordinator of the events will continue to work diligently with the regional committees. I am asking you to ensure full-fledged collaboration between all our organizations to achieve perfect harmony in holding the events.

Dear colleagues,

During our previous session, conferring with you, I sent invitations to a number state leaders and heads of key international organizations to take part in the centenary events. I would like to inform you that a series of states and organizations have accepted them. Some states have confirmed their presence through high-level delegations. Some of them have noted that they want to spend that day together with the Armenian communities of their countries. I am asking both the state commission members and the regional committees to join the diplomatic representatives of the Republic of Armenia in ensuring as broad participation as possible in the coming events and in the international media forum to be held at the end of March. It is particularly important, taking into account Turkey’s short-sighted and cynical decision to edit its own history through marking the anniversary of the Gallipoli Battle on the day commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. It is said that in politics all means are good, but I think that by doing it, official Ankara did itself a disservice

When I received that immodest invitation, I deemed it necessary to instantly and publicly respond to Recep Erdoğan, because it was obvious that the fact of the invitation could be misunderstood and misinterpreted by international media outlets and the international community. I think that my response and the repercussions both at international level and in very Turkey proved the emptiness of that miscalculated step.

That step is empty just like all the manifestations of denialism. Denialism is not only a manifestation political weakness and an inferiority complex, but also a legal category. It links present-day Turkish authorities to their predecessors who committed the crime of genocide, rendering them accessory to that gravest crime against humanity. And that is what the Republic of Turkey had to deal with yesterday at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

They are trying to present the case of Dogu Perincek, a nationalist criminal, condemned many times by the very Turkish judicial system on various charges, but, at the same time, a representative of a nationalist party and organizations, as an issue which requires the court to adopt legal position toward the issue of the Armenian Genocide.

The Republic of Armenia has been involved in the case as a third party, because the ECtHR Grand Chamber will make a decision on the conformity of Swiss legislation that has criminalized the denial of the Armenian Genocide with the European Convention on Human Rights. It is an important decision for us, because we are confident that denialism is the most probable impetus of crime recurrence. Nevertheless, we do consider it to be a case about legal recognition or denial of genocide. As a state representing people who suffered genocide, we have not applied to the court for that. Likewise, we do not think that it is the European Court of Human Rights that must give a clear answer to that issue. We know that the Turkish propaganda machine is ready to misinterpret any decision as a great victory. They even released Perincek from prison and allowed him to leave the country to take part in the session, after their very courts had put him into prison.

Our concept on legal claims for overcoming the consequences of the genocide will be reflected, at individual, community and state levels, in a comprehensive package being compiled by the lawyer’s committee established by the resolution of this commission. Today, the chairman of the committee, Gagik Harutyunyan, President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia, will give a report on the course of the preparatory works.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The event program of this year will be among the pivotal issues to be discussed today. The organizing committee that coordinates the events will present the works carried out and the upcoming activities. According to the concept proposed by them, the events will be conditionally divided into four main directions – four pivots of commemoration: These are:

1. Memory: the memory of our martyrs, our lost legacy and the need to recover it.

2. Gratitude: gratitude to those individuals, organizations, peoples and states that gave us e helping hand during that difficult time. We will remember everything: from the unknown man that saved a baby to the states fighting for our case in international tribunals; and we will honor the ones who walking ahead of time, thought based on categories of humanitarian intervention.

3. International fight. As a suffered people, we will continue to fulfill our duty toward humanity, being at the heart of the international fight against the crime of genocide. In political, scientific, information, cultural and all other areas we will continue to act as vanguards of the ideology “never again.”

4. Revival: Commemorating our martyrs and honoring our heroes, we will also reflect upon our achievements and accomplishments of the past century. We will be proud to state that during that difficult time we managed to demonstrate exceptional willpower and revived, and as Paruyr Sevak put it:

…We found a way out for new Resurrection.

And not as a phoenix,

But as an Armenian…

I once again extend my thanks to all of you for being present here and for your diligent work.

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