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Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian gave an interview to Tert.am on the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of Victims of the Crime of Genocide.


Armenia’s top diplomat elaborated on the Ministry’s activities towards achieving the international recognition for and raising international public awareness of the 20th century’s first major crime against humanity.


Mr Nalbandian, what steps have been taken on the international arena on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide in 2015?


Thousands of events have been held worldwide to commemorate the Armenian Genocide centenary.


The events organized ahead of the anniversary and throughout this year, as well as the upcoming activities are only the visible part of our work. Our diplomacy has taken and is still taking necessary steps towards achieving the international recognition and public awareness of the Armenian Genocide.


On March 27, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted by consensus the Genocide Prevention Resolution initiated by us. More than seventy states joined Armenia to co-author the bill.


Our initiative was not the first one: such Armenia-initiated resolutions were also adopted in 2013 and 2011 and even much earlier, reflecting Armenia’s consistent policies in efforts towards the prevention of the crime of Genocide. Under the resolution, any attempt to deny or justify a crime of genocide is treated as a serious obstacle to the prevention of genocides.


With that resolution, the Human Rights Council proposed that the UN General Assembly declare December 9 – the day of adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – as a day of honoring memory of genocide victims. The UN General Assembly approved the proposal.


On the Armenian Genocide centennial, the European Parliament, which is comprised of 28 countries, adopted a special resolution to condemn Turkey’s policy of denial. Also, the resolution urged Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide and thus pave the way for reconciliation between the two peoples.


On the Genocide centenary, resolutions were also adopted by a number of other European institutions. Around 200 parliamentarians representing 40 countries of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) issued corresponding statements. Declarations were also made  by such institutions as the EuroNest Parliamentary Assembly, the European People’s Party, the European Green Party to name a few.


What about [countries and organizations] beyond the European continent?


Yes, [this wave of Genocide recognition] was not limited to European institutions. The Latin American Parliament, which unites 23 legislative bodies representing Latin American and the Caribbean Basin countries adopted a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.


At its Yerevan-hosted ministerial conference in October, the International Organization of La Francophonie, which includes 80 countries, approved the Genocide Prevention Resolution initiated by Armenia. La Francophonie Secretary General Michaëlle Jean issued a statement on April 24 to pay tribute to the victims of the Mets Yeghern (Armenian Genocide) and express support to the Armenian people.

You briefed on the steps by international organizations. What would you single out in terms of various leaders and countries’ reaction?


Leaders, governments and parliaments of different countries expressed solidarity with the Armenian people. At the Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on April 12, Pope Francis, who is the [religious] leader of over the 1 billion Catholics around the globe, delivered an extremely important message on the occasion of the Armenian Genocide centennial, which received an international resonance.


Heads of several countries attended Genocide commemoration events in Yerevan and in their own countries on April 24, delivering important messages. It is notable that the President of Germany admitted – when speaking about the Armenian Genocide – his country’s share of responsibility for the atrocity. Also condemning the Armenian Genocide, Austria’s chief lawmaking body claimed the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s responsibility. The legislative bodies of Russia, Argentine, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Canada, Belgium, Luxemburg and other countries adopted new resolutions on the Armenian Genocide or reaffirmed [earlier measures]. State and municipal councils in different countries of the world adopted statements and resolutions condemning the Armenian Genocide denial.


Mr Nalbandian, what was the international community’s reaction to the Genocide centennial?


There were thousands of reports and broadcasts in different continents across the globe, [as the topic was covered by] CNN, BBC, Rossiya 24, Russia Today, France 24, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, RAI, AFP, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Le Monde, Figaro, The Independent and Times. And this is just a small part of what we had. Through their broadcasts, articles and interviews, many top media outlets raised awareness of the Genocide. As a result, Ankara’s attempts to cast a shadow on global events marking the Genocide centennial produced a boomerang effect on Turkey, killing its initiatives. It is noteworthy that the Turkish media issued hundreds of reports, with Hurriyet, a top Turkish newspaper publishing a comprehensive interview with the Armenian President.


In light of international awareness, the exclusive 330-page issue of Politique Internationale, a leading Paris-based political science journal published in English and French, was very important. Dedicated to the Armenian Genocide centennial, it included among other things publications by the President of Armenia, the incumbent and former leaders of France and articles by Genocide scholars.


Besides, a number of leading international journals issued special editions dedicated to the centennial of the Genocide.


The Foreign Ministry had its important contribution to organizing the global forum “Against the Crime of Genocide,” with top politicians, parliamentarians, clergymen, scientists and experts from around 50 countries participating.


What we just said is, of course, only some of the activities organized as part of events commemorating the Armenian Genocide centennial.


The centenary came to symbolize the collective memory, gratitude and rebirth of the Armenian people. The mounting international efforts towards the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide demonstrate the resoluteness by which we guide ourselves in the important mission of preventing new crimes against humanity.

December 10, 2015