12, 2010

Statement of President Serzh Sargsyan at the International Conference “The Crime of Genocide: Prevention, Condemnation and Elimination of Consequences”

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Distinguished Participants of the Conference,
Dear Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome all participants of this Conference. I thank those foreign scholars who accepted our invitation and came to Armenia to take part and make proposals in the scientific discussions on the crime of genocide, its condemnation and prevention as well as the elimination of the consequences of that crime.

Today, more than ever, it is necessary to take serious steps and develop efficient mechanisms for the prevention of genocides. And today, more than ever, the impunity of different political administrations and states, which have committed the crime of genocide, absence of international condemnation, lack of adequate mechanisms or their ineptitude created a situation when the mankind, along with other grave challenges, still faces the threat of new genocides.

Bitter lessons of the Armenian Genocide are not just memories in the history of the world: they were amplified by the horrors of the Holocaust, genocides in Rwanda, Darfur and many other tragedies. Unfortunately, genocide denial and oblivion are still present in our world. Political expediency and short-sighted timeserving often prevail over the necessity to adopt and implement sound and reasonable decisions.

Issues pertinent to the prevention and condemnation of genocides, as well as elimination of their consequences, should be put on the agenda of international deliberations. Civilized world should demonstrate an ability to fight united against this menace.

Neither the venue, nor the title of the conference held in Yerevan are accidental. It is true that chronologically the Armenian Genocide occurred several decades before the adoption of the UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; however its international, including legal and ethical repercussions became the foundation for the development and adoption of the aforementioned Convention.

Rafael Lemkin says on this, “Until now, the government could treat its citizens as it saw fit. Millions and thousands of hundreds of Muslims and Jews, Armenians and Slavs, Greeks and Russians, swarthy Africans and fair Poles perished in this crime. The world come to a decision that genocide is a crime which falls within the scope of international law, and that to prevent and punish this “crime of the crimes” the convention must be signed by the member states.

Today, we observe another phenomenon: along with the attempts to review historical facts, which were scientifically proved by official historiography and have received corresponding international assessment, some countries are trying to fashion stories of “their own genocides.” Such false approaches constitute simple distortion of the clear-cut legal basis for the definition of the crime of genocide. Without going into the motives behind that phenomenon, I would like to say one thing: “to bestow genocide” on one’s own people is neither patriotism, nor diplomacy.

Those who review and rewrite historical facts imagine that they can impose on the world their corrupt and bogus story. To hush up guilt and the committed crime means to conduct a new crime; moreover, such cynicism proves that some do not comprehend or don’t want to realize the terrible price which the humanity has been paying ever since.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Intolerance and xenophobia are the starting points of any genocide; furthermore, adoption of such policies for whatever reasons, as well as propagation of intolerance and bigotry, also with the direct participation and headship of the leaders of the political elite, contain real danger and prepare fertile soil for new tragedies and genocidal acts.

The Armenian nation greatly values the input and the accomplished work of the scholars who possess scientific candor and maintain unequivocal stance. Their work resulted in scientific substantiation and proof regarding the genocide perpetrated against Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the beginning of the XX century. With this regard, the role of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, which this year has received the Presidential Award, is indispensable.

I attach great importance to the organization of this scientific conference for the issues related to the crime of genocide, and I am confident that it may be instrumental for the adoption of political decisions aimed at the prevention of that crime and for the manifestation of political will. The conference is also important in the context of developing defined approaches and conceptual documents on the elimination of the consequences of genocides.

The Armenian Genocide, “Mets Eghern” is individual and collective pain of our nation, which knocked at the door of each Armenian family; it is our tragedy and memory. And we are confident that the road from recognition to forgiveness, from justice to peace, as well as tolerance and coexistence have no alternative.

On the eve of the approaching 100th anniversary of Mets Eghern, bowing to the memory of our innocent victims, we as a nation which survived a genocide, will continue to voice our appeal and warning to all – for the sake of the humankind and civilized world, we must protect our planet from such universal tragedies.

Let us create together our new history and common future.
I wish you productive work.
Thank you.


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