Envoy promises "strong" Obama statement on Genocide anniversary

Envoy promises

PanARMENIAN.Net - President Barack Obama will mark the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide with a strongly worded statement, U.S. ambassador in Yerevan said, according to RFE/RL Armenian service.

“The president’s statement on April 24 again will be a strong one,” John Heffern told reporters. He would not say whether Obama will use the word genocide to describe the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey that began on April 24, 1915.

Obama pledged to do so when he ran for president in 2008. He has still not honored that pledge, however, mindful of negative reaction from Turkey, which vehemently denies that the mass killings and deportations constituted genocide.

In his annual April 24 statements issued to date, Obama has used instead the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern” (Great Calamity) to remember the victims of “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.” He has also implied that he stands by his 2008 statements recognizing the genocide.

According to Novosti-Armenia, the envoy refused to comment on the statement made by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the Genocide 99th anniversary.

"It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who share similar customs and manners will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember together their losses in a decent manner. And it is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early twentieth century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren. Regardless of their ethnic or religious origins, we pay tribute, with compassion and respect, to all Ottoman citizens who lost their lives in the same period and under similar conditions,” Erdogan's statement said.

As the ambassador noted, the U.S. will continue efforts to promote ratification of the 2009 Armenian-Turkish rapprochement Protocols.

On October 10, 2009 in Zurich the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries signed the “Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey” and “Protocol on development of relations between of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey”. However, after the Protocols were signed, Turkey abruptly changed its position and rejected to implement the agreements on the normalization of the relations within a reasonable timeframe and without any preconditions, linking the ratification of the Protocols in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh issue.

Taking into account the situation created by Turkey, as well as the call of the Political Council of the parties-members of the ruling coalition, on April 22, 2010 the President of the Republic of Armenia signed a decree on the suspension of the process of ratifications of the Protocols.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

The Armenian-Turkish Protocols

The Protocols aimed at normalization of bilateral ties and opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey were signed in Zurich by Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on October 10, 2009, after a series of diplomatic talks held through Swiss mediation.

On January 12, 2010, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia found the protocols conformable to the country’s Organic Law.

Commenting on the CC ruling, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “it contains preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the Protocols.” ”The decision undermines the very reason for negotiating these Protocols as well as their fundamental objective. This approach cannot be accepted on our part. Turkey, in line with its accustomed allegiance to its international commitments, maintains its adherence to the primary provisions of these Protocols. We expect the same allegiance from the Armenian government,” the Ministry said.

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