By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
The Presidents of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh along with leaders of major Diasporan organizations issued an unprecedented joint declaration last week, announcing the preparation of a comprehensive dossier of “legal claims” from Turkey to restore “individual, communal and pan-Armenian rights and legitimate interests.”
The declaration does not detail the specifics of Armenian demands, since a legal team headed by Gagik Harutyunyan, President of the Constitutional Court of Armenia, is in the process of finalizing a thorough analysis of Armenian claims against Turkey.
The January 29 declaration was issued during the session of the State Commission on the Coordination of Programs Dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide with the participation of over 50 regional Centennial Committees from around the world. Later that night, Pres. Serzh Sargsyan read the full text of the declaration during a somber wreath-laying ceremony at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex in Yerevan.
When Catholicos Aram I inquired if the declaration would become the official policy of the Republic of Armenia, Pres. Sargsyan responded by assuring everyone that the adopted document would guide not only Armenia’s foreign policy, but all government officials!
Here are highlights from the Pan-Armenian Declaration:
- Condemning the genocidal acts against the Armenian people, planned and continuously perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and various regimes of Turkey in 1894-1923, dispossession of the homeland, the massacres and ethnic cleansing aimed at the extermination of the Armenian population, the destruction of the Armenian heritage, as well as the denial of the Genocide -- all attempts to avoid responsibility, to consign to oblivion the committed crimes and their consequences or to justify them -- as a continuation of this crime and encouragement to commit new genocides;
- Considering the 1919-1921 verdicts of the courts-martial of the Ottoman Empire on that grave crime perpetrated "against the law and humanity'' as a legal assessment of the fact;
- Appreciating the joint declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, for the first time in history defining the most heinous crime perpetrated against the Armenian people as a "crime against humanity and civilization" and emphasizing the necessity of holding Ottoman authorities responsible, as well as the role and significance of the Sevres Peace Treaty of 10 August 1920 and US President Woodrow Wilson's Arbitral Award of 22 November 1920 in overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide:
- Reiterates the commitment of Armenia and the Armenian people to continue the international struggle for the prevention of genocides, the restoration of the rights of people subjected to genocide and the establishment of historical justice;
- Expresses gratitude to those states and international, religious and non-governmental organizations that had the political courage to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide as a heinous crime against humanity and even today continue to undertake legal measures to that end, also preventing the dangerous manifestations of denialism;
- Appeals to UN member states, international organizations, and all people of good will, regardless of their ethnic origin and religious affiliation, to unite their efforts aimed at restoring historical justice and paying tribute to the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide;
- Expresses the united will of Armenia and the Armenian people to achieve worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide and elimination of the consequences of the Genocide, preparing to this end a file of legal claims as a point of departure in the process of restoring individual, communal and pan-Armenian rights and legitimate interests;
- Condemns the illegal blockade of the Republic of Armenia imposed by the Republic of Turkey, its anti-Armenian stance in international fora and the imposition of preconditions in the normalization of interstate relations, considering this a consequence of the continued impunity of the Armenian Genocide, Meds Yeghern;
- Calls upon the Republic of Turkey to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire, and to face its own history and memory through commemorating the victims of that heinous crime against humanity and renouncing the policy of falsification, denialsm and banalization of this indisputable fact;
- Expresses the hope that recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey will serve as a starting point for the historical reconciliation of the Armenian and Turkish peoples;
- Considers the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide an important milestone in the ongoing struggle for historical justice under the motto "I remember and I demand."
It is noteworthy that the Pan-Armenian declaration counters the persistent Turkish falsification that the claims against Turkey are being advanced by the Diaspora and not the Republic of Armenia. The unanimously adopted declaration clearly reflects that Armenians worldwide, both in the Homeland and Diaspora, are firmly committed to pursuing their just demands from the Republic of Turkey!