By Elias Hazou
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades yesterday traveled to Yerevan, where today he will join other heads of state and officials for the main commemoration event marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Also in the Armenian capital are MP Marios Garoyian (DIKO) and Giorgos Varnava (EDEK), attending the Global Forum “Against the Crime of Genocide.”
During yesterday’s last session of the forum, Garoyian expressed grief for the suffering of the Armenian people and reaffirmed his full support to the international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
He stressed that it is the duty of the international community to condemn crimes against humanity and called for international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Garoyian noted that the people of Cyprus are also suffering from Turkey’s expansionist policy, adding that its troops illegally occupy Cyprus’ northern part, violating the human rights of all Cypriots. He reiterated that Cyprus and Armenia are fighting a common struggle for the prevalence of justice and international law.
Accompanying the Cypriot officials is the Armenian representative in the House, Vartkes Mahdessian.
Yesterday, the Armenian Church canonised some 1.5 million Armenians massacred in the Ottoman Empire.
Today, hundreds of thousands are expected to join a procession to the hilltop memorial of Dzidzernagapert in Yerevan carrying candles and flowers to lay at the eternal flame at the center of a monument commemorating the mass murder.
More than 20 nations – including Cyprus, France and Russia – have so far recognised the Armenian genocide, a definition supported by numerous historians.
In 1975, Cyprus became the first European country (and the second worldwide, after Uruguay) to officially recognise it, via a unanimous parliamentary resolution.
And earlier this month, the island made it a crime to deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenian Turks a century ago.
All political parties issued statements of condemnation, while representatives will take part in a march later this evening that will conclude at the genocide memorial on Armenia street in Nicosia at 7pm. During yesterday’s plenary session, parliament held a minute of silence in commemoration.
“While the world rightly looks to 24 April as the centenary date of the start of the Armenian Genocide,” said Theo Theodorou, spokesman for Lobby for Cyprus in London, “the world should not forget that after the Ottoman Turks had killed its Armenian population, it turned its attention on the Assyrians in the southeast of the country and then, later, on to the Pontus Greeks, in the northeast.”
“Many Armenian Genocide survivors managed to get to Cyprus, where they renewed their lives and made valuable contributions to Cyprus. Sadly, with the Turkish invasion and illegal occupation of the north, forty years ago, many of those Armenians and their descendants were forced to flee with their Greek neighbours.”
The nature and scale of the killings remain highly contentious.
Modern Turkey – the successor to the Ottoman Empire – has refused to acknowledge the event as a targeted genocide.
Ankara says that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil – rather than religious – strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.
On Wednesday, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Vienna in protest against the Austrian parliament’s decision to call the massacre “genocide”, similar to a diplomatic stand-off with the Vatican.