BERN — Ahead of November 11 centennial of the armistice that put an end to World War I, president of Armenia Armen Sarkissian has expressed hope that this event will be an occasion to recognize or commemorate the 1915-1916 genocide of the Armenians.

“I don’t know how one can talk about World War I without touching upon the tragedy that took place nearly 105 years ago and without speaking about the genocide. Recognition or a call by leaders of countries will be highly appreciated by me, by Armenia and the entire Armenian people,” Sarkissian told Switzerland’s Public TV – RTS in an interview.

“The recognition of the Armenian Genocide isn’t simply a recognition of a tragedy that concerns one people. First of all this is the first and largest genocide of the 20th century. Because it wasn’t prevented, because a recognition and condemnation didn’t take place, genocides repeated further in the 20th century,” he said.

Asked about a message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sarkissian said that he is ready for dialogue and cited his Christian convictions. He didn’t rule out that one day forgiveness will take place, but said that “forgiveness comes after recognition”. He said that this recognition will have broader historic coverage, because the Armenian Genocide is “the first genocide of the 20th century”.

“I would first of all tell Erdogan: “Good morning Mr. President. I believe we have something to discuss. You are the President of Turkey, and I am the President of Armenia. My family, my ancestors are from Erzurum, Van and Bitlis. My family has a story. Why shouldn’t we speak about the relations between Turkey and Armenia, why shouldn’t we speak about our personal stories? We should speak about not only history, but also the future – the future of our children and grandchildren, about our two peoples. I am a Christian. Christianity teaches that there is always a chance to forgive, however forgiveness can only follow a recognition,” Sarkissian said.

The Armenian President also said that he has agreed with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to organize a charitable concert in memory of Charles Aznavour, “most probably in October of 2019”.

“Numerous singers and actors will be in attendance,” Sarkissian said, recalling that together with Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron they sang Aznavour’s songs in Yerevan.

“Me and Emmanuel Macron together with our wives visited the Charles Aznavour Museum and Residence [in Yerevan]. I proposed to President Emmanuel Macron to organize a big charitable concert in Paris in a year in memory of Charles Aznavour. I am hopeful that this concert will take place in October of 2019. It will be a charitable concert and world-famous actors and singers will be invited. I spoke to a group of my friends who told me that it would be a great honor for them to present their art at this concert,” Sarkissian said.

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