YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Armenpress)–On Wednesday–April 24–His Holiness Karekin II–Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–visited the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to the Armenian Genocide of 1915–to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the first genocide of the 20th Century. President Robert Kocharian and President of Nagorno Karabakh Arkady Ghoukassian accompanied His Holiness–as well as the bishops–priests and deacons of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
His Holiness led the procession of officials–ambassadors and diplomats to the Eternal Flame of the Memorial. Under the impressive shadow of the stone structure–a solemn requiem service was conducted in honor of the 1.5 million martyrs who perished in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.
Also in attendance during the service were Speaker of the National Assembly Armen Khatchatrian–Prime Minister Andranik Manukian–President of the Constitutional Court Gagik Harutunian–and high-ranking state officials and dignitaries.
Following the requiem service in Yerevan–His Holiness’ entourage returned to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin for the celebration of a solemn Divine Liturgy. His Holiness presided during the service–which was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Paren Avedikian.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy–the Catholicos of All Armenia’s led the ran’s of clergy and the faithful to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Monument built on the grounds of the Mother See. A Repose of Souls service was conducted by His Holiness–asking Almighty God to grant rest to the souls of those departed–especially those who perished 87 years ago in the Genocide.
On this occasion Armenian President Robert Kocharian addressed a message to the nation–which reads as follows:
"Today Armenia’s all around the globe–just like every year–commemorate the victims of 1915 Armenian Genocide. On this day in 1915 Armenian intelligentsia and clergy were arrested in Istanbul–which set the beginning of the Genocide- a crime planned and perpetrated by the government of the Ottoman Turkey–a crime which was to become the most tragic page in the Armenian history.
"The future of a nation with a strong civilization and culture was jeopardized. All the segmen’s of the Armenian nation–scattered all around the globe–still bear on them the imprint of the tragic events of the 1915.
"Armenia pursues the international recognition of the genocide–and this issue is among the major ones on the agenda of its foreign policy–a fact which displays the just demand and expectations of the Armenian nation. Armenia’s living in homeland and Diaspora are waiting for the recognition and condemnation of this inhuman crime. It is not a manifestation of revenge–but a concern for ensuring that a similar crime will never happen again.
"Today we pay homage to the memory of our victims – with a deep confidence that historical justice will triumph. We look into future of our country and statehood with trust. Homeland and statehood are sacred things for each Armenian–and they should be built with joint effort and devotion."
Foreign delegations have arrived in Yerevan to participate in a range of events marking the 87th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Lavrentiy Barseghian–the director of the Armenian Genocide Institute-Museum told Armenpress that recognizing genocide is not an action of hatred and should not be considered as raising walls between peoples. On the contrary–it will help build bridges of friendship and cooperation.
Barseghian said he was for launching a dialogue with Turkey–but "it does not mean that we must give up our just deman’s." Barseghian said that Armenia must raise the question of compensation for the damages Armenia’s suffered in the genocide.
According to Barseghian–this should be done in the first place by historians. The US New York Life insurance company insured a total of 10,000 Armenian families in Turkey in 1908-1914–but taking advantage of the genocide that left no Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire–has not paid insurance.
The Ottoman Bank transferred $5 million to Berlin Central Bank–which was later transferred to London Central bank and is still kept there. Once the British Labor party demanded that the money be paid to the Armenia’s–but after coming to power it said that the money should be considered as military contribution from Germany.
In 1919 the delegation of the first Armenian republic presented at Paris conference the volumes of damages suffered by Armenia’s in Western and Eastern Armenia’s. This sum totals to about $50 billion today.
Barseghian says that this issue should be raised by the Armenian government–but the government says "it is the matter of Diaspora Armenia’s."
The Turkish government has started a wide-scale anti-genocide campaign and has created a special center affiliated with the parliament. Similar centers are created alongside several Turkish universities.
Meanwhile–several thousands of young members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Nikol Aghbalian Student Union marched on Tuesday in a torch-light procession from central Yerevan to the Tsitsernakaberd hill in the northern part of Yerevan to the Armenian Genocide Monument.
Before the procession there was a meeting in which the young members condemned the Turkish government for the extermination of 1.5 million Armenia’s in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the efforts of the modern Turkish government to deny it.