YEREVAN—Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian released a statement on Wednesday, one day ahead of April 24th commemorations of what will be the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, paying his respects to the memories of those who perished and calling on Turkey to face the truth about a dark chapter of its history. Below is the full text of the statement.
Today we bow our heads to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. One and a half million Armenians fell victim to a crime against humanity for which no human language had yet coined a term. One and a half million people were massacred simply because they were Armenians. The crime prepared meticulously and executed systematically pursued a simple goal: to take possession of the native lands and the possessions of the ancient and storied people living there. In their pursuit, the Ottoman Turks committed a monstrous crime, seeking to annihilate the Armenian people once and for all.
Today, nearly a hundred years after the Genocide, it is obvious the trauma inflicted upon our people by an unthinkable atrocity we were never prepared for. Until now, all Armenians dispersed throughout the world and all their generations are closely familiar with outcome of the Genocide. Despite this truth, however, the reality is that we have rebuilt a state from the remains of the Armenian homeland and today, in contrast to the past, we are more aware of and more prepared for the dangers we may face. Nowhere in the world is as safe for an Armenian as in her homeland, under the auspices of her own people’s state.
The 24th of April is just a symbolic date: it is clear that the Armenian Genocide was not initiated and put an end in one day. Moreover, the Genocide continues as long as the successors of Ottoman Turkey continue their policy of categorical denial. We are convinced that the denial of a crime constitutes the direct continuation of that very crime. Only recognition and condemnation can prevent the repetition of such crimes in the future; crime that, unfortunately, have been repeated numerous times since 1915.
Today, we stand on the brink of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This is an opportunity for Turkey to repent and to face history openly and honestly if she wishes to relieve her future generations from this heavy burden.
Honoring the memory of the innocent victims, we remember all those Turks and Turkish families who lent a helping hand to their Armenian neighbors and friends facing execution, and who helped countless children escape from the clutches of bloody murder. God bless the memories of those who gave many of our ancestors a helping hand by risking even their and their families’ lives. Every society, including Turks, should be proud of their ancestors who rescued lives and stood up against the genocide of a people. We remember this.
We express our gratitude to all the countries and peoples who granted asylum to our compatriots having had a narrow escape from the Genocide. The Armenian people will remember this forever. Our sisters and brothers have strived to show their gratitude for decades by becoming devoted citizens of those hospitable countries.
Today, the Armenians of Syria face immense trouble. This is our open wound and the issue of primary concern to us. We are doing our best to re-establish peace for the Syrian people and our compatriots in Syria.
We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide with our heads held high and hopes for the future, with a state, whose name is the Republic of Armenia. It is the homeland of the entire Armenian people, who, despite decades-old illegal blockades and a “neither war nor peace” reality, continue to make progress.
The year 2015 should convey a strong message to Turkey. Its attitude toward Armenia can no longer be measured by words because the time is here for clear steps: the opening of the closed borders and the establishment of normal relations. Our position on the Armenian-Turkish protocols has not changed and the idea of “reasonable terms” is becoming more urgent than ever.