YEREVAN—The 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference, organized and hosted by Armenia’s Ministry of the Diaspora, commenced Friday at the Yerevan Opera Theatre.
Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and Artsakh President Bako Sahakian addressed guests in opening remarks. Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, and Catholic Patriarch Nerses Petros XIX also spoke during the conference’s opening ceremony.
In his welcoming speech, President Sahakian noted that the conference has become a tradition and plays an important role in Armenia-diaspora relations and cooperation. Sahakian said that Artsakh is ready to take away lessons from this year’s conference and act on them.
The President said that cooperation between Artsakh, Armenia, and the diaspora is pivotal for the vitality of the Armenian nation and the preservation of Armenian culture.
Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, remarked that the conference, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, should be held in high regard and should strive to make Armenians’ voices be heard across the international community.
He stressed that the issue of the Armenian Genocide should be tackled at the legal level. “Our goal should be not only recognition and condemnation of the Genocide, but also reparations for its consequences. Our vocabulary should have the terms “recognize”, “condemn” and “compensate,” said Aram I. He emphasized that Turkey must realize that it cannot violate an entire nation’s right with impunity.
Aram I believes that the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide should mark the beginning of a new stage of international recognition of the Genocide, as well as its recognition and reparation by Turkey.
He added that the Armenian Church will be taking consistent steps in the matter of retrieving Armenian church properties in Turkey. “We will apply to international legal structures, but Armenia, as a state, should support us,” he said.
He also expressed his concern over the gradual destruction of Armenian communities in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine and stressed the need to provide every possible help to the Armenian communities in these countries.
Aram I also announced that he will petition to Turkey’s constitutional court to demand the return of the Sis Catholicosate to the Armenian Church. He further said that he is willing to apply to the European Court for Human Rights, should Turkey’s court turn down the petition. As the Catholicos stressed, Turkey must always be reminded that Armenia will never stop fighting for its rights in the face of all odds.
The Catholicos called on Armenians to struggle for the return of Armenian properties and for the restoration of rights for Armenians, in the spirit of the youth who dared raise their voices in 1965, demanding justice and the return of Armenian lands for the first time.
“In 2015, on the centenary of Genocide, their children and the diaspora youth must join their voices to call for justice,” the Catholicos said.
For his part, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II stressed the importance of strengthening Armenia-diaspora-Artsakh relations even more to achieve important goals for Armenians worldwide, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide being one.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan participated in the opening of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Forum that kicked off today at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Alexander Spendiaryan.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian, in his remarks, hailed the conference and the coming together of Armenians from around the world to set out plans for work and cooperation.
Abrahamian quoted Garegin Nzhdeh in saying, “Our nation without patriotism is the same as a body without a soul.”
“Armenia is powerful and invincible thanks to its two wings and a united diaspora. We feel strong here in Armenia, as we have the potential of the diaspora behind us. I’m confident you feel the same towards the Republic of Armenia, your independent and free fatherland. We do not have and cannot have different interests. Our interests are interrelated and our actions should be coordinated and complementary,” Abrahamian said.
Speaking about regional problems, the Prime Minister said: “The Nagorno Karabakh conflict remains unsolved. Azerbaijan is conducting a belligerent policy, unleashing an arms race fed by oil dollars. Turkey, in turn, demonstrates an extremely biased stance and continues to keep Armenia in blockade. On the other hand, Georgia’s relations with Russia do not contribute to regional stability and do not allow us to make full use of the transit and foreign cooperation opportunities. All these factors force us to be flexible and cautious in our foreign policy. The Armenian authorities are taking steps to ensure the security and steady development of the Republic of Armenia.”
“Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Invaluable is the role of the diaspora in the process of recognition and condemnation of the Genocide. Painfully, modern-day Turkey, as the successor of the Ottoman Empire, not only refuses to reconcile with its dark past, but also continues to deny the reality of the Genocide, which is itself an act of continuing the genocide. At the same time, the international community is coming to understand that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, first of all by Turkey, is inevitable, and that such an act will contribute to regional stability and will establish an atmosphere of mutual trust. I’m confident that with joint efforts we can restore historic justice,” Abrahamian said.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau Chairman Hrant Markarian also addressed the gathering, calling for national unity to resolve the domestic and foreign challenges facing the Armenian nation.