On April 19, an event commemorating the centenary of the Armenian Genocide was held at the renowned “Pallas” theatre of Athens, on the initiative of Greek Centennial Central Body and the prefecture of Attika.
Minister of Industry Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis, State Minister Panagiotis Nikoloudis, Deputy State Minister Terence Quick, Deputy National Defense Minister Nikolaos Toskas, Chief of the National Defense General Staff Michail Kostarakos, Deputy Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Ioannis Balafas, former President of the Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis, MPs representing various parliamentary groups, Members of the European Parliament, Head of the military academy “Evelpidon” Dimitrios Reskos and Armenian cadets studying at the academy, Deputy Governor of Attika and Piraeus, Mayors of Piraeus and Nikaia-Renti, heads and members of foreign embassies, military attaches, heads and members of religious, political, cultural and educational institutions of the Greek-Armenian Community, representatives of Pontian Greek, Assyrian and Jewish organizations, academic and other circles of Greek society were in the attendance.
The event was moderated by Araxie Abelian-Qolanian who in her opening speech highlighted the link between the past and present stating that the Armenian Genocide issue does not affect only the Armenian-Turkish relations, but the security of the wider South Caucasus region as well. A short film based on the testimonies of genocide witnesses was screened.
Keynote speaker, MEP and head of the EU-Armenia friendship group Eleni Teocharous commenced her speech with following words “Every free person in Greece is Armenian today”. Thus, expressing her admiration for the centuries-old struggle for freedom of the Armenian people and hoping to see the same spirit of liberation in Cyprus as well. Teocharous noted that due to the impunity of the Armenian genocide the international law has “cracks” and this makes the small nations vulnerable to violence and arbitrary practices. The speaker noted that the 1915 genocide saw its continuation in the 90’s massacres of Armenians in Baku and Sumgait, in the violation of the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh, and in the blockade of Armenia. Touching upon the European Parliament resolution of April 15 and the following response by the Turkish high level officials, Teocharous stated that democracy punishes and teaches a lesson, but it never inflicts revenge. In addition she noted that denying the truth the Turkish authorities make the Turkish nation an accomplice to the heinous crime of the Ottoman government. She reaffirmed the call of the MEPs on Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide and to comply with all its obligations under the international law.
In his speech Ambassador Ghalatchian highlighted the concepts of memory, gratitude, international struggle and rebirth, as cornerstones of the Armenian genocide Centennial commemoration and attached special importance to the renewed processes of the international recognition of genocide due to the Armenian Genocide Centenary, as an additional tool to prevent the crime of genocide.
Speeches by Deputy Regional Governor of Attika, Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Deputy National Defence Minister followed.
The artistic part of the event consisted in the performance of “Lament of Adana”, “Shall we still be silent” and “Der Zor” by the “Hakob Papazian” choir of “Hamazgayin” cultural centre under the baton of Father Hrayr Nikolian. The Greek quartet “Evritmon” closed the event performing pieces by Komitas.
Accompanied by the Armenian Scouts groups the participants marched towards the central Syntagma square where a solemn wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier took place with the guard of honour. Wreaths were laid by Eleni Teocharous, Ambassador Galatchian, Military Attaché Samvel Ramazyan, by the representatives of the Hellenic government, Attica prefecture, Athens municipality, Greek-Armenian community, Unions of Assyrians, Jews and Pontus Greeks.