On May 7, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian who is in Washington DC within the delegation headed by the President of Armenia presented the commemorative events being held in Armenia and abroad dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial and their message during the meeting with leading American and foreign media at the US National Press Club. Co-founder of ‘100 lives’ initiative, Chairman of the US National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Noubar Afeyan reflected on the events scheduled in Washington DC.
Delivering an introductory remarks Minister Edward Nalbandian, particularly, said, “As a nation which passed through the horrors of Genocide we feel a deep moral responsibility to raise a worldwide awareness about this scourge and to do our utmost to contribute to the prevention of crimes against humanity. It is in this spirit that the Armenians worldwide pay tribute to 1.5 million innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide and join their voices to the pledge of “never again”.
As one of the steps taken in this direction I would like to emphasize the Genocide Prevention Resolution initiated by Armenia and co-authored by 71 states which was adopted this March 27th by consensus in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It emphasizes the importance of combating denial of genocides and crimes against humanity. Denial is not opening the door to reconciliation; it is opening the door to new crimes against humanity. It is with this understanding that Pope Francis I stated during the Mass in St. Peter’s Cathedral on the occasion of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide: “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
Regrettably, Turkey instead of trying to comprehend the message of His Holiness dared to accuse him for being biased. And this was not a sole case, Turkey harshly condemned all those who during the past weeks expressed their sympathies and commemorated the Centennial, to name only few – The European Parliament, France, Russia, Germany, Austria, USA and others. Turkey has not just condemned those countries and international organizations, it has challenged the truth and has obviously failed in its fight against justice.
The worldwide commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide is the testimony to that failure. More than 60 official delegations, including heads of states and parliaments, high level government officials paid tribute to the victims together with the Armenian nation during the solemn commemoration event at the Genocide memorial in Yerevan.
Several thousand commemoration events are taking place worldwide held at the governmental, parliamentarian, ecumenical, academic, civil society and community levels.
The statement of German President, as well as the declaration of the Austrian Parliament showed that nations which 100 years ago were allies of the Ottoman Empire are facing their part of the history.
On April 22-23 the Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide was held in Yerevan which gathered together 600 participants – academicians, genocide scholars, lawyers, parliamentarians, clergy, journalists – from 50 countries. The International Association of Genocide Scholars is planning to hold its annual conference in Armenia in July. We feel the sympathy and support from all parts of the world, international organizations, civil society, academic circles, and the world media. The headlines and the news of the major outlets and the main TV and Radio channels worldwide are providing extensive coverage on the Armenian Genocide and the commemoration events.
The remembrance days could be an opportunity for acknowledging the past and laying foundations for a better future. We hoped that Turkey would embark on that road since we firmly believe that there is a better choice than to justify those who perpetrated the Genocide. In Ankara last August I passed the invitation from the President of Armenia to the President of Turkey to participate in the Centennial events in Yerevan. Once again Turkey rejected to shake the hand extended to it.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated in Yerevan during the Global Forum: “If we cannot get the recognition for what happened 100 years ago how we are going to stop genocide today?” Would it be possible to avoid the horrors of Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur or the sufferings of the victims targeted by the so-called ISIS if the Armenian Genocide was internationally recognized and the perpetrators were brought to justice? We believe that “Yes” is the right answer. If there are still people who doubt it, perhaps they can be convinced by Adolf Hilter’s words, that I saw again yesterday at the Washington Holocaust Museum, who on the eve of Holocaust said “Who still talk nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?”.
Ladies and gentlemen,
One of the main pillars of the Centennial commemoration events is the gratitude to those who assisted and supported Armenians during the dark days of the Genocide. In this regard I would like to highlight the huge charitable contribution of the Near East Relief, which was established by the U.S. government at the urging of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey to prevent what he called the “campaign of race extermination”. It is credited with having cared for more than 130.000 Armenian orphans scattered across the region.
Being in Washington, I would like to extend our gratitude to 44 States of the U.S.A. which have recognized the Armenian Genocide. Later today during the Centennial commemorative service at the National Cathedral we also will pay tribute to the memory of President Woodrow Wilson who will always be remembered as a true friend of the Armenian nation and who shared his conviction that the American people “have made the cause of Armenia their own”.
Presentation on the commemoration events in the USA by Noubar Afeyan followed the address of the Minister.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia answered numerous questions of the journalists.