Prof. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, former President of Greece

ATHENS — On April 26, a scientific event dedicated to the 109th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide took place in the main hall of the Athens Academy, initiated and organized by the Armenian Embassy in Greece and the Athens Academy.

Academician Michael Stathopoulos, the former president of the Academy of Athens, welcomed the guests and emphasized the importance of commemoration of the victims of genocide and its international recognition.

Ara Ketibian, Genocide Scholar

Addressing the event, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to Greece Tigran Mkrtchyan expressed gratitude for the organization of this event at the Academy of Athens. Below is the Ambassador’s speech in full:

President Pavlopoulos, Honorable Representative of the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Holy Fathers, Excellencies Ambassadors, fellow Armenians, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you all for joining us here to honor the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

I want to specifically thank the Academy of Athens for hosting this event today with us and I would like to emphasize my special gratitude to President Pavlopoulos, because about a year and half ago when I met him we discussed, that there is a need to organize an academic event dedicated to the Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which is happening now.

Armenia’s Ambassador Tigran Mkrtchyan

I would also like to thank the President of the Academy Professor Stamatios Krimigis, unfortunately is not here today, as well as the former President of the academy and the chair of this event, Professor Michalis Stathopoulos with whom last year we discussed how to organize this event and with whom we also discussed the possibility of coordinating an official agreement between the Academy of Sciences of Armenia and the Academy of Athens, which happened yesterday. An historic event of course for which we are very happy, because we are talking about the genocide today but as nations which have survived genocides we Armenians and Greeks have to move forward, have to get stronger and have to cooperate as much as possible, and have to advance, as well.

So today we invited Mr. Ara Ketibian to talk about his lifelong work of publishing several volumes of the U.S. media coverage of the Armenian Genocide but also you can get acquainted with the books which are presented here. Presenting also some other topics including the Greek Pontic Genocide, another volume on the Assyrian Genocide, also the Orphans of the Genocide, forced conversions of Christians in that period, just few days ago Adana massacres’ coverage of U.S. media was published in Yerevan which we just got and are delighted to be the first to publicly present it here.

I would also like to remember my mentor in the Foreign Ministry, former Ambassador of Armenia in Greece H.E. Arman Kirakossian who had published one volume in 2004 on the U.S. media coverage of the Armenian massacres of 1894-96 which included 35 articles by journalists, missionaries, diplomats and public individuals of the United States. But the work done here, which is in progress, by Mr. Ketibian is an all-encompassing one, which would befit an entire institution’s workload to complete and we are proud to present this work here as a way of paying tribute to the victims of the Genocide.

We may say a lot about the Armenian Genocide; since April 21, when the Armenian National Prelacy and the Armenian community started a commemoration here, much they have already said and I don’t want to repeat some of the history what happened to us 109 years ago but we should emphasize a few things for the record. This was a campaign of hatred and barbarism, a crime against the civilization and civilization as it was characterized by the great powers in the May 24, 1915 statement. The massacres were then actually in the process of being carried out, they were to continue, they had started earlier. And yet the international society’s efforts proved not sufficient and ineffective to prevent its escalation, let alone to stop it. Unfortunately, we saw this happening in 2020 in Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh also in 2021 and 2022 against Armenia, in 2023 against Nagorno Karabakh again during the final ethnic cleansing of Armenians. Genocide and ethnic cleansing preventive mechanisms haven’t been effective and we have time against the application of double standards in international affairs.

Ambassador Tigran Mkrtchyan with SDHP Greece Representative Hovhannes Shahinian

But of course we can not give up on this, and we have to use all means possible to make our nation resilient and we stand up against any possible future attempts of violations. So what can the Republic of Armenia do? First of course is the provision of Armenia’s of security environment, making Armenia more resilient, and expanding its cooperation with partners and trying to find reliable friends and allies, one of them being Greece and I am happy to say that our cooperation with Greece, including in the defense sector, is being enhanced and this is important to understand. So making Armenia as secure as possible is an important priority.

One of the intrinsic features of the Armenian Genocide, which happened during the ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh as well, as the denial of the committed crime which it was being committed. Thus, when western officials were meeting Ottomans and asking for more details and reasons of the crimes committed against the Armenians, usually there were flat denials that Armenians were being killed. When, though they were being proven wrong by concrete facts, we had the other layer of the process of genocide implementation- that of justification.

Usually in most places where sporadic massacres were masterminded, there was some organized provocation in order to justify the killings of the Armenians. And the third layer of genocide process, still ongoing, is the post-genocidal glorification of the organizers. I can not understand the logic of glorifying people like Taliat Pasha, Enver Pasha in modern Turkey. In a normal environment this is impossible to understand. It would be the same of in modern Germany Adolf Hitler or Hermann Goring were glorified. But this is happening in Turkey because the crime was left unpunished. There was no punishment for the perpetrators of the genocide.

And here is the last part of my talk I am coming to as of what Armenia can do to prevent this crime. I mentioned first about Armenia being stronger, making a strong state, democratic institutions, rule of law, etc.

Second of course is our international struggle. Together with our partners Armenia in the UN Human Rights Council presented on April 3 a Genocide Prevention Resolution. The specific emphasis of this resolution is on the early warning mechanisms. Before genocide happens usually a genocidal environment is developed through hate speech and racist actions. And when there is no reaction to prevent the further deterioration of this environment, it is leading to the crime of the genocide. The genocidal environment in Ottoman Turkey existed well before the 1915. And it has started in or before the 1890s.

The environment in Nagorno Karabakh existed several years before conflict erupted in the 1990s and in 2023 before the final ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh there were 9 months of blockade against the population of Artsakh, 9 months to starve eventually to bomb and to expel the people from their homeland.

The international society proved unable to prevent this crime and currently we see that Azerbaijan is doing everything to exclude the return of the people to their fatherland, not only by destroying their homes and property but also destroying or distorting their churches into something else, destroying the essence of the churches. Claiming that these are non Armenian, that Armenians were new-comers to this region.

So the resolution I mention is emphasizing the need for elaboration of mechanisms of early warnings and exploring the tool kits that are needed to make genocide prevention more effective.

Ara Ketibian with SDHP Greece Representative Hovhannes Shahinian

Finally I would like to mention that at the end of this year in December Armenia is hosting the 5th Global Forum Against the Genocide with this emphasis on early warning and prevention mechanisms. So we are inviting scholars and academicians, including from Greece, to take part in this event.

I am proud to say that during the first, second and third Global Forums I was involved in the organizing committee of this important academic event hosted by Armenia.

Last but not at all least I would like to end this address on a positive note. Professor Stathopoulos mentioned about the exhibition that is on display in the eastern side of the Academy Hall. The exhibition presenting some of the works of Greek-Armenian painters is not just paintings of Greek-Armenians. It is a symbol of the survival of the generation of the genocide. That the Genocide after all did not achieve its purpose. Armenians are alive, the Armenians are creating, the Armenians will create and make all those places wherever they live better places, better societies.

The paintings here symbolize in fact of this resilience, this nature of survival and are a way of communication of this generation of genocide survivors and their successors.

So one again thanks the Academy for hosting with us this event and thank you all for being with us to honor the memory of the victims who are for us saints as the Armenian Apostolic Church canonized the victims of the Armenian genocide.

 

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