Pope’s Genocide Remarks Set Legal Precedent, Says Prosecutor General

Armenia's Prosecutor General, Gevorg Kostanian
Armenia's Prosecutor General, Gevorg Kostanian

Armenia’s Prosecutor General, Gevorg Kostanian

YEREVAN—The European Court of Human Rights will announce the final verdict on Perincek vs. Switzerland in an estimated six months, Armenian Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanian said at the National Assembly on Thursday.

“The European Court of Human Rights is not the body that will assert whether there has been an Armenian Genocide or not,” he added.

The Prosecutor General attached importance to the historic Mass in the Vatican that took place in April. He said the Pope’s statements on the Armenian Genocide come to prove once again the Armenian Genocide is properly acknowledged and perceived internationally. He added that from the point of view of international law this was more important than the fact that one more country recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Armenia has all the grounds to insist that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is not the right instance to confirm or deny the fact of the 1915 Genocide, said the prosecutor general.

Kostanian addressed the topic in a speech at the National Assembly as he was asked by an opposition member of parliament, Tevan Poghosyan of the Heritage Party, to comment on the recent developments in the Perincek vs Switzerland case, in which Armenia is a third litigant.

The prosecutor general emphasized two important aspects of the proceeding. “The Armenian Genocide issue had never before been a subject of debate on any international arena, so it is the first ever case. What’s being disputed here is the fact that the Armenian Genocide – despite its public recognition worldwide – is not comparable with the [Jewish] Holocaust, given that the Holocaust is legal fact recognized at the Nuremberg trial,” he explained.

Commenting on the Armenian Government’s reasons to skip the first hearing at the Strasbourg court, Kostanian said that they did not then have the necessary legal formulations stemming from the chamber’s decision. “Accordingly, we saw that an intervention has no alternative,” he said, adding that Armenia’s task was to prevent the passage of a ruling that would deny the fact of the Genocide.

Kostanian said the circumstances forced them to use the entire existing potential, involving also internationally acclaimed lawyers in the preceding.

“We focused on two circumstances: that the Holocaust is a fact by virtue of having been confirmed by the Nuremberg court,” he said, adding that Armenia’s efforts to present facts falling within the definition of genocide (as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment the Crime of Genocide) were the second important objective.

Kostanian said he doesn’t find the Genocide issue a matter falling within the ECHR’s jurisdiction.

As an important step towards the acknowledgement and condemnation of the universal crime against humanity, he attached a great importance to the Holy Mass in Vatican, held days before the centenary of the tragic events (in which Pope Francis declared the WWI-era mass killings of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as the 20th century’s first crime of genocide).

As for the ECHR’s final ruling, Kostanian said he expects it to be issued in 5 or 6 months’ time.


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