YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Thousands of Armenia’s marched a steep road on April 24–leading to the Genocide Memorial of Dzidzernagapert in Yerevan to pay respect to the memory of 1.5 million victims killed by the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian genocide of 1915.
President Robert Kocharian–Prime Minister Andranik Margarian–parliament speaker Arthur Baghdasarian–along with other Armenian leaders–visited the Memorial in the morning as they laid flowers in remembrance. His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II conducted a prayer service in memory of the dead.
In his message to the Armenian people–President Kocharian said–"The year of 1915 became a dividing line in the fate of all parts of our nation. It changed their lives drastically and disrupted the path of its normal development. Its heavy consequences are felt today in the lives of Armenia’s living both in the Republic of Armenia and Diaspora."
Stating the necessity of international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide in the context of regional and international politics–Kocharian said–"We have made our position heard many a time. We are not motivated by the feelings of revenge and once again repeat today our willingness to build normal relations with Turkey–but its continued denial of that crime–causes the perplexity of not only Armenia’s–but also of the international community."
Foreign diplomats from more than 15 countries were also present to pay their respects to the 1.5 million innocent Armenian lives taken away brutally by the Ottoman Empire. Among them were delegations from France–Russia–Italy–Ukraine–Canada–Spain–Belgium–Luxemburg–Holland–Norway–Sweden–and Georgia.
French ambassador to Armenia Henry Cuny told journalists–"France was one of the first nations to give shelter to thousands of Armenia’s who escaped massacres in Turkey. France has also officially recognized the Armenian genocide and I am happy that the Armenian community in my country is flourishing and prospering. France was and is Armenia’s friend."
"We have come here to remember the Armenian victims of the first genocide of the 20th century. Armenia’s sustained the greatest damages during World War I. At this hour of sad remembrance–Georgians are with their Armenian brothers and sisters," Georgian ambassador to Armenia Revaz Gachechiladze said.
Former president of Poland and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa–Israeli Knesset’s member Yosi Sarid–and other dignitaries paid their respects earlier this week. Walesa said during his visit to Yerevan that Armenia’s have the right to demand that the European Union bar Turkey from joining the bloc unless it admitted to genocide. "It is a just claim of the Armenia’s," he said.
Thousands of young Armenia’s–joined by Armenia’s from the US and Europe–marched through the streets of Yerevan on Saturday night–singing the national anthem as the torch lit procession marched towards Dzidzernagapert.
Addressing an international conference dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Yerevan earlier this week–President Kocharian urged Turkey to recognize the crime–saying such recognition is essential for the reconciliation of the Armenian and Turkish people.
"Recognition is important for Turkish-Armenian relations as it would provide answers to numerous questions dividing our two peoples and enable them to look to the future," he said. "We remember the past with pain but not with hatred. It is difficult for us to understand the reaction of the Turkish side which manifests itself not only through the denial of the past but also the blockade of present Armenia," he said.
In an interview to a Russian RTR TV channel on April 23–Kocharian said it was strange that "malice has been preserved by the side responsible for the crime and not by the victim of that crime."
It was on the night of April 24–1915–when the Turkish government placed under arrest more than 200 Armenian community leaders in Constantinople. Hundreds more were apprehended soon after and sent to prison in Anatolia–where most were executed. In a single year–1915–the Armenia’s were robbed of their millennia-old heritage. The desecration of churches–the burning of libraries–the ruination of towns and villages–all erased an ancient civilization.
With the disappearance of the Armenia’s from their homeland–most of the symbols of their culture–schools–monasteries–artistic monumen’s–and historical sites–were destroyed by the Ottoman government.
The latest nation to recognize the genocide was Poland when its parliament passed a resolution condemning the Armenian massacres. in Germany–members of parliament from across the political spectrum appealed to Turkey to accept the massacre of Armenia’s as part of its history–saying this would help its EU aspirations.