Serzh Sargsyan: We do not accuse Turkish people of Armenian Genocide, we condemn denial of it

Pope’s visit to Armenia was both of religious and inter-state character, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said in an interview with Al Mayadeen TV, a pan-Arab news station.

“The fact of the Pope visiting Armenia is very important by itself, but the essence and content of that visit make it even more valuable,” the President said. He reminded that the Pope had described the trip as “pilgrimage to the first Christian nation.”

He attached importance to the Pope’s messages of peace, inter-religious dialogue and calmness. “I think all countries of our region should accept these messages and implement them,” he said.

“Pope’s trip was a visit to peace, a visit preaching peaceful co-existence and tolerance,” Serzh Sargsyan said.

As for Turkey’s reaction to the Pope’s remarks on Armenian Genocide, President Sargsyan said “Turkey angrily reacts to the actions of all countries recognizing the Armenian Genocide, and there was nothing surprising for us here.”

Many ask why the Pope used the word genocide here. “Why should a religious or political leader who has his views on certain things and events, refrain from calling them by their names?”

“Many thought Pope Francis would not use the word ‘genocide’ again after the Mass served on the 100th anniversary. “Pope is not a person that can change his convictions because of pressures or angry reactions. The Pope used the word many times, when he was still in Argentina. For decades he has been friends with heirs of Armenian genocide survivors,” President Sargsyan said.

“Turkey will once react calmly to these facts,” the President said, adding that the situation was different 10 years ago. “No one would imagine 10 years ago that the Armenian Genocide could be commemorated in Istanbul or Ankara on April 24.”

“Turkey will once recognize the fact of genocide,” he said.  He noted that Germany came out winner by acknowledging the fact of Holocaust.

“We do not blame the Turkish people of having perpetrated the genocide. We blame the then authorities of the country, who undertook to eliminate the Armenian people. Today we blame those who deny the genocide. No one has ever heard me say a sore word about the Turkish people,” President Sargsyan said.

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