PanARMENIAN.Net – His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia delivered concluding remarks to the international conference on the Armenian Genocide in Lebanon.
“As experts in human rights, international law and the Armenian Genocide, you have analyzed and affirmed, through your presentations and discussions, that the demand of the Armenian people for reparation is valid in the context of the provisions of the United Nations’ conventions, international treaties and international criminal law,” His Holiness said.
“International law and its relevant international norms arising from treaties, conventions and resolutions of UN General Assembly challenge impunity in all forms and affirm the necessity for reparation. Hence, the confiscation of properties is a continuous crime against humanity. The international law provides the legal basis for the successors of the victims of genocide to present a collective claim for the return of properties to their rightful owners,” he said.
“Turkey may continue denying the Armenian Genocide, it may continue spending significant political capital and issuing threats in an attempt to block initiatives aimed at recognition of the Armenian Genocide. But, it cannot deny the very fact that about one and a half million Armenians, Ottoman citizens, in 1915, with the pretext of “relocation” to avoid “intercommunal clashes” and for “strategic reasons because of war” – reasons given by the Turkish authorities – were forcefully driven out from their homes leaving behind them thousands of churches, monasteries, schools, hospitals, community and private properties and a huge spiritual, cultural, intellectual and financial wealth,” His Holiness Aram I said.
“It is important once again to remind ourselves of a few facts about the Armenian properties. A law signed by the Ottoman-Turkish government on May 1915 states that “the land and properties belonging to Armenians who have been sent elsewhere as a result of the state of war and the extraordinary political situation… will be immediately sealed by the special council… and will be registered and taken under protection… . The same law also assures that “the money received as a result of the sale will be preserved at the financial office in the name of the previous owner”. In contrast to this law, and in order to give a permanent solution to the complex issue of properties, the Ottoman-Turkish government invented the theory of “abandoned” properties and put on sale and public auction the Armenian properties even providing payment facilities to accelerate the sale. This act of the Ottoman-Turkish government was indeed the continuation of the Armenian Genocide,” he went on.
“I repeat: the policy of denial does not exempt Turkey from its legal obligation towards the Armenian properties. Irrespective of the Turkish law of so called “abandoned” properties, the Armenians have never given up their ownership, they remain the legal owners of these properties according to the international law, the Lausanne agreement which was signed by Turkey as well as according to the Turkish domestic law Therefore, within the context of reparation for the Armenian Genocide, at this point in time and as a first and concrete step towards a full restoration of the legitimate rights of the Armenian people, church and community properties must be returned to their rightful owners.
“We are seeking justice: recognition of the Armenian Genocide and reparation. This is a challenge before us. The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is ready to respond to this challenge with strong commitment and a profound sense of responsibility,” His Holiness concluded.