Armenian Foreign Minister Speaks on Rwanda Genocide Anniversary

Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian speaks at an international conference on genocide prevention in Brussels

BRUSSELS—The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, participated in an international conference on the prevention of genocide hosted in Brussels, Belgium, where he spoke on the prevention of genocide. Organized by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the conference was titled “The Responsibility to Defend,” and marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

The conference was attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, heads of a number of other international organizations, Foreign Ministers from more than 30 countries, other high-level delegates, and prominent scholars.

In his speech, Nalbandian emphasized that failing to punish an act of genocide effectively lays the ground for its recurrence in the future.

“Since the adoption of the 1948 Genocide Convention, efforts were put for the elimination of the consequences of the Holocaust,” Nalbandian said in his speech. “The ensuing history of 60 years — Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and other tragedies — demonstrated that all good will is not enough to prevent crimes against humanity from happening again and again.”

“When we talk about impunity and absence of condemnation as a solid ground for recurrence of genocides, many refer to Hitler’s quotation from 1939 August when he rhetorically asked ‘Who today still speaks of the massacre of Armenians?’ But even before coming to power, in one of his interviews to a German newspaper in June, 1931, Hitler contemptuously referred to the massacres of Armenians as a possible option for repetition with other peoples,” Nalbandian recalled.

Nalbandian continued by stressing that the cause of recurrent genocides is the absence of an adequate, united international response to genocide when one takes place, and, moreover, the international community’s failure to retroactively punish genocide after it has occurred.

“Genocide prevention is a burden that should be shared,” Nalbandian said. “This requires political commitments by governments to stop genocide from happening anywhere in the world without subordinating that noble humanitarian cause to any geopolitical calculations.”

Nalbandian also argued that genocide prevention must include constant vigilance and detection of an impending human rights crisis well ahead of time. The international community must keep track of anti-human rights trends, such as hate speech, ethnic violence, and government propaganda, in order to act in time to prevent genocide.

Nalbandian also stressed that education about past genocides must be encouraged and its restriction in any country should be admonished by the international community.

“Such knowledge is extremely useful because grave experience shows that perpetrators of genocide in different geographical areas and different historical periods have been quick to identify the tactics of their murderous predecessors and learn from them,” Nalbandian said.

“The Young Turk’s Committee of Union and Progress in Turkey, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party in Germany, the Hutu National Revolutionary Movement for Democracy in Rwanda all used special paramilitary organizations as the main perpetrators of mass killings. These were Teskilat Mahsusa, the Schutzstaffel, Interahamwe. There were several similarities in the genocidal processes as treatment of victims, expropriation of their properties, ways of extermination in these as well as other crimes against humanity.”

“The remembrance days of the victims of genocides, Mets Yeghern, Shoah, remembrance days in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and other genocides should be approached with willingness to move towards recognition and reconciliation. True reconciliation does not mean forgetting the past or feeding younger generations with tales of denial. The civilized world resolutely rejects the incitement of hatred, racism, dissemination of intolerance, the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity under the guise of freedom of expression. Denial is a continuation of genocide,” Nalbandian concluded.


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  1. Berge Jololian said:

    Pillsbury Dough Boy Nalbandian still does not quite get it.

    Genocide Acknowledgment without Accountability is hollow and meaningless.

    “punishment?” Try Accountability, Accountability for land, reparation, and restitution.

    Who said Turkey’s genocide of Armenians is something that happened in the past?

    Denial is not just the simple negation of an act; it is much more the consequent continuation of the very act itself. Genocide should not only physically destroy a community; it should likewise dictate the prerogative of interpretation in regard to history, culture, territory and memory. As the victims- Armenians – “never exists”. The Turkish have not only murdered humans , destroyed an ancient culture/civilization and rewritten history, but they continue to legitimize the act as well as the racist ideology that led to the act.

    Denial is the final step in the completion of a mass extermination – and the first step towards the next genocide. If genocide is committed in Ruanda or Sudan, it is done with the knowledge that the rest of the world will only watch and then forget. They look to Turkey and think themselves safe in the assumption that their actions will likewise remain unpunished! Whether in Sudan or Ruanda or any other potential hotspot of mass murder the accountable powers-that-be rhetorically ask – as Hitler supposedly did just before invading Poland – “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

    When does genocide end? When denial ends. When Turkey is held accountable for the crime of genocide, land, reparation and restitution. When Turkey acknowledges Artsakh and Nakhichevan as integral parts of Armenia; when Turkey removes its economic hostile border blockade, etc …PDB Nalbandian, the genocide of the Armenians is on going

  2. edward demian said:

    I am not sure that referring to PM Nalbandins outer image in unkind ways is in any way constructive.