YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The remains of Armenian National Hero Gen. Antranik were brought to Armenia Friday evening. Gen. Antranik remains were reposed at Paris’s famed Pere La Chaise Cemetery in 1928.
The remains of the heroic general were gathered from Paris by an official delegation that was in the French capital on a special mission. The delegation was led by Interior Minister Hayk Haroutiunian and included Chairman of the "Yerkrapah" Union of Volunteers Board Major-General Manvel Grigorian–Major-General Arkady Ter-Tadevossian–as well as government and parliament representatives. The commission on the reburial of the hero’s remains is led by Minister of Defense Vagharshak Haroutiunian.
At the airport the remains of Gen. Antranik were met by National Assembly Chairman Armen Khachatrian–Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan–Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian–other members of the government–parliament deputies–senior clerics–military officials–artists and cultural workers. Among those welcoming the remains of the legendary military commander was one of Antranik’s soldiers–102-year-old Grigor Ghazarian.
Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan told reporters that "the return of the Great Commander to the homeland–although sad–but still was a festive occasion."
"I believe that our people have always wanted the ashes of the Great Military Commander to be brought to his native land to be committed to the earth here," he said. The dream of Antranik and his brother Vazgen Sargsyan has come true at last–the premier added.
From the airport the remains of Gen. Antranik were taken to the Sports & Concert Complex of Yerevan where the public will pay tribute and attend a special requiem service.
A funeral rite service and a special requiem ceremony will be said at the Holy Etchmiadzin on Sunday–officiated by His Holiness Karekin II–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s.
On that day–the remains of Gen. Antranik will be taken to the Yerablur national cemetery in Yerevan–the burial place of all national heroes. The remains will be buried there as the great son of the Armenian people willed himself: "When I die–let my body belong to no one but the Armenian people–my valiant warriors–Armenia," said Gen. Antranik before his death.
President Robert Kocharian met Friday with relatives of Gen. Antranik–who arrived in Armenia from France to attend his reburial ceremony.
"The transfer of Antranik’s remains to Armenia is a great event," the president said–adding: "It was our duty before his cause and memory. Today we have accomplished a dream of the great commander–to rest in peace in his native land."
At the meeting president Kocharian handed Antranik’s relatives–Vardan Nranian and Bernard Kilinjian–Armenian passports of special residency status.
"It is a great honor for us to receive the passport of the independent Republic of Armenia–and we are proud of that," Vardan Nranian said.
Speaking of the last years of Antranik’s life abroad–he noted the importance of national unity and accord.
"The common national interest must be prevailing and should unite all of us," he stressed.