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By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian Apostolic Church said on Friday that its supreme leader, Catholicos Garegin II, has thanked Poland and its former President Lech Walesa for recognizing the genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

A statement by the church’s press service said Garegin “expressed his gratitude to the people and the government of Poland” as he received Walesa, a devout Catholic, at his Echmiadzin residence late on Thursday.

“Your presence here today confirms the fact that genocide has not time, territorial or national limits and that it is a crime against humanity that always needs condemnation,” the Catholicos was quoted as telling the former Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Walesa, who served as Poland’s first post-Communist president from 1990-95, arrived in Armenia to take part in an international conference devoted to the 90th anniversary of the start of mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. “The massacres of Armenians in Turkey were the first genocide of the 20th century,” he declared in a conference speech on Thursday.

Walesa also said that Turkey must admit to the genocide if it is to join the European Union. The speech was delivered two days after the lower house of Poland’s parliament adopted a resolution describing the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide.

Walesa’s schedule did not include official meetings with Armenian government officials or politicians. Still, the Polish ex-president was greeted by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian during the conference. The two men were then seen jointly leaving the conference hall.

(Photolur photo: Lech Walesa.)
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