ADDRESS OF ARMENIAN FM EDWARD NALBANDIAN AT CONCLUSION OF GLOBAL FORUM 'AGAINST THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE'

19:34 * 23.04.15

Below is a speech by Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian at the conclusion
of Global Forum 'Against the Crime of Genocide'.

Honarable President of National Assembly,

Your Eminences,

Distinguished guests,

Disinguished participants of the Forum,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank all participants of the Forum and express
special gratitude to the moderators of all three panels of these
two days - Luis Moreno Ocampo, Geoffrey Robertson, Frank Chalk,
Patrick Devedjian, Nikolay Rizhkov, and to you - dear Baroness Cox,
as well as to those panelists, parliamentarians, spiritual leaders,
political scientists, experts who addressed the Forum. The variety,
depth and substance of the messages lift even the slightest doubt
that the fight of the international community against genocides and
crimes against humanity has no alternative.

During the last hundred years the horrible experiences of humanity,
the epochal shifts in international politics, novel perceptions of
human rights in global political processes reaffirm that prevention
of genocides should be one of the prime goals of the mankind. As
President Serge Sargsyan stated in his important opening address, this
is the reason why, in conjunction with the organization of the events
in Armenia commemorating the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide,
we also give a pivotal importance to our increased involvement to
the international efforts towards the prevention of genocides. That
is why one of the most important messages that we want to address to
the entire world is the imperative of genocide prevention as a noble
goal uniting the civilized world, past and present generations. It
should not be subjected to any political interests and should not be
marginalized, irespective of the political agendas of the time.

Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe in his
yesterday's remarks highly valued the contribution of Armenia to the
international prevention efforts and called on for the continuation
of those efforts.

It is a common knowledge that if we do not wish to allow the repetition
of genocides, we are obliged to identify those preconditions that
resulted in committing past genocides. A number of participants of the
forum thoroughly touched upon the reasons feeding that horrendous
crime. International reaction following the Armenian Genocide
contributed to the awareness raising amongst judicial and social
circles on the crime of crimes, or as William Schabas put it the
most extreme form of the crime against humanity - the genocide. In
this regard Daniel Feirstein revealed an interesting fact that the
Armenian Genocide lays in the foundational goals of the Association
of the Genocide Scholars.

I would like to once again recall, as it was mentioned during the
opening of the forum, that the May 24th, 1915 special declaration of
Russia, France and Great Britain characterized what had happened to
the Armenians as a "crime against humanity and civilization." In 1919
the Ottoman Tribunal's indictment held the leaders of the Young Turks
personally responsible for organizing the large-scale massacres of
the Armenians. In 1929 Winston Churchill characterized the Armenian
massacres as a "holocaust" and added that "this crime was planned
and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself
for clearing these territories of a Christian race." As one of the
participants of our forum - Donna Lee Frieze, presented in a detailed
manner, later on Rafael Lemkin invented the term "genocide" referring
to what happened to Armenians.

The Armenian Genocide was widely condemned by the international
community. That reaction equally resonated in the European states,
the USA and Russia, as well as in the Arab world. A number of
intellectuals, statesmen, public and religious activists drew attention
to the inadmissibility of what had been committed against Armenians,
urging the great powers to punish the masterminds of the Armenian
Genocide and create conditions conducive to the elimination of the
consequences of that calamity. The participants of our Forum Henry
Theriault and Patrick Dumberry addressed the legal aspects of this
issue. The international reaction testified that what had happened
to the Armenians was perceived not only as a grief of one nation,
but as a crime committed against humanity. As Yair Auron rightly
mentioned the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not an issue
between Armenians and Turks, it is an issue for whole humanity.

However, the atrocities of the 20th century that followed the Armenian
genocide were not prevented. The reason for that and the main lesson
to be learned is that the international genocide prevention efforts
did not exert the necessary determination, consistence and solidarity,
and the relevant political and legal conclusions were not made.

Dear participants of the Forum,

On March 27 in Geneva the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus
the Genocide Prevention Resolution initiated by Armenia and co-authored
by 71 states. It occupies an important place within the context of the
joint prevention efforts of the international community. It defines the
primary measures for genocide prevention, which were reflected also
in the Armenia-initiated UN Human Rights Council Genocide Prevention
Resolutions of previous years.

The diagnosis of genocidal atmosphere and creation of effective
mechanisms of early warning must have their firm place on the agenda
of the international and regional organizations. Yesterday Professor
Israel Charny, Director of Jerusalem Institute of the Holocaust
delivered an impressive presentation on this topic. During the
last decade both the United Nations, and specialized Human Rights
organizations have made a considerable progress in improving early
warning and assessment capacities. The continuity of these achievements
should be guaranteed. At the same time it should be accompanied by
creation of concrete mechanisms of deterrence.

Unfortunately the violence executed by extremists in the Middle East,
the brutalities against civilian population which remind us of the
past horrors and the vandalism against millennia-old civilizational
values demonstrate that the international community still has much
to do in this regard. Here I would like to thank Frank Chalk for
comprehensively addressing these issues.

The next important dimension of the genocide prevention is the
improvement of the human rights protection mechanisms as well as
deepening of tolerance both inside societies and in relations among
different peoples. Strengthening of democracy, protection of the rights
of ethnic and religious minorities and their fair representation
are those firm pillars that if fortified and fostered may eliminate
the destructive intentions of even the most extremist groups and
ideologies. Consistency in countering xenophobia, discrimination,
dissemination of hostilities is indispensable to exclude the emergence
of genocidal atmosphere because the seeds of the evil of genocide
are fed by those gravely negative phenomena.

One of the important dimensions of prevention of genocides is raising
awareness through educational programs and remembrance. Remembrance
is important also in eliminating the consequences of the genocide,
Turkish intellectual Cengiz Aktar made an interesting presentation in
this regard. Here, I would like to extend a special gratitude to Madam
Esther Mujawayo, survivor of the Rwandan Genocide for her exclusive
address on the complications of psychological aspects in eliminating
the consequences of genocides. I remember her making a no less touching
address a year ago at the High Level meeting of the UN Human Rights
Council initiated by Armenia and dedicated to the genocide prevention.

When we speak about raising awareness of genocides we should clearly
realize that without the recognition, condemnation and elimination of
consequences of past genocides any steps would remain as half-done. In
this respect we can state with confidence that today one of the
challenges facing humanity is surmounting denial of genocides, about
which Michael Bohlander made a thorough speech. The strife against
this condemnable issue is as important as countering the creation
of the genocidal atmosphere, or as the efforts to prevent the mass
atrocities themselves. These issues were throughly touched upon by
Donald Bloxham. I would like once again to recall the wise words of
Pope Francis I during the Mass in St. Peter's Cathedral on the occasion
of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide: "Concealing or denying
evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it."

Attempts of denial of genocide and crimes against humanity under the
guise of freedom of expression are equally condemnable. Nowadays,
the minimization of the suffering of the victims, trivialization of
the scale of the losses and equation of the sufferings of the victims
and the perpetrators are among the tools applied for denial. Recently
we have been often witnessing this new strategy of denial. As Roger
Smith correctly noted the tactics of denial are refined while the
arguments have remained the same.

Dear participants of the Forum,

One of the main elements of the UN Human Rights Council Genocide
Prevention resolution is the condemnation of denial of genocide
and crimes against humanity. Denial makes the incumbent authorities
accomplices to the crimes committed in the past. Denial is not opening
the door to reconciliation, it is opening the door to new crimes
against humanity. Yair Auron made valuable observations on this topic.

It is noteworthy that Rakip Zarakolu in his yesterday's address
compared the policy of the Turkish Government to Janissary March -
one step forward, two steps back.

Dear participants of the Forum,

I am confident that the ideas and recommendations made during the
Forum will have an important contributaion to the international
efforts of the genocide prevention. I would like to extend special
thanks to His Holiness Garegin II and the clergy for their valuabe
participation to the Forum. I would like to express my gratitude to
the President of the National Assembly of Armenia Galust Sahakyan
and to all parliamentarians from around the world for their important
contributions to the work of the Forum.

Concluding my address, I would like to recall with gratitude very
important documents adopted in the course of the last month alone -
the Genocide Prevention Resolution of the UN Human Rights Council,
the European Parliament Resolution, the statement of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe and of course the statement of
Pope Francis. These important steps give confidence that in the
21st century the humanity will establish a more unified position
and will eventually be able to develop really effective mechanisms
of prevention of genocides based on the belief that the recognition,
condemnation of past genocides and the exclusion of denial are among
the guarantees for the harmonious progress of the world civilization.

We can already stress that during the discussions of Yerevan Global
Forum fresh ideas and constructive proposals have been made, which were
summarized in the Draft Declaration of the Global Forum. I believe
that it would be accepted as a guide for the implementation of the
truly global mission facing us, for the sake of unified determination
of preventing the crime of genocide.

Thank you!

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