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Events dedicated to the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Lithuania

25.04.2018

On April 24, at the initiative of the Embassy of Armenia to Lithuania and the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, and with the support of the Union of Armenians of Lithuania, a presentation-discussion of the collection of documents entitled "Diplomats witness and condemn the Armenian Genocide" (edited by Eva Merrenicz, Rome, 2015) was held at the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Ambassadors accredited to Lithuania, representatives of the Seimas of Lithuania and the Armenian community, Lithuanian social and political figures were present at the event.

In his remarks addressed to the guests the Ambassador of Armenia to Lithuania Tigran Mkrtchyan noted that the Armenian nation, as a nation that survived the first genocide of the 20th century, has a moral responsibility to bring its contribution to international efforts in prevention of crimes against humanity. In this context the Ambassador noted that in 2013, 2015, and in March 2018 resolutions on prevention of the crime of genocide, initiated by Armenia have been adopted in the UN Human Rights Council, which has been co-authored by Lithuania, for which Armenia is grateful.

Touching upon the presented book, Ambassador Mkrtchyan noted that the book presents the testimonies of the enemies of the Ottoman Empire as well as diplomats of neutral and allied countries during the World War I, based on which one can conclude that the Ottoman Empire carried out an intentional and thorough program of extermination of Armenians.

“Of all the documents included in the book, I want to draw your attention to the joint statement of Great Britain, France and Russia of May 24, 1915 concerning the deportation and massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which states that the Turkish government must be responsible for the crimes committed against Armenians. This was one of the first occasions of the use of the term “crimes against humanity” on an international level, leading to its elaboration as an inherent concept of the international legal system”, concluded the Ambassador.

Markas Zingeris, director of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, said in his speech: "The history of the Jews, which is also full of tribulations, persecutions and tragedies, makes us to share the tragedies of other peoples, as it stems from the moral compass. And our moral compass tells  us today, on April 24, to commemorate the tragedy of Armenians." Zingeris highlighted the importance of Lithuania's recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 2005.

Povilas Urbšys, MP from the Seimas of Lithuania, head of the Armenia-Lithuania Inter-parliamentary friendship group, noted in speech. "We must face the reality and we must state that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a matter of civilization, thus exempting humanity from the repetitions of such crimes.”

In the framework of the event, book editor, Hungarian genocide scholar Éva Merenics presented the book's structure and the methodology of selecting the testimonies included therein. "Undoubtedly, these sources are reliable," was noted by Éva Merenics.

Ümit Kurt, a Turkish researcher of Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, delivered a lecture in which he touched upon the sources for the study of the Armenian genocide, including official documents, the development process of the research of the historiography of the genocide studies. The Turkish historian described the Armenian Genocide as the greatest tragedy in the World War I.

Within the framework of the event a British documentary, entitled “Blue Book: Evidence of Armenian Genocide” was screened (produced by а well-known UK film-producing company Ballista and presented by Dan Snow).

Earlier on the same day, a commemoration ceremony dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide was held at the monument for the Memory of Genocide in Vilnius organized by the Union of Armenians of Lithuania and the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania with the support of the Embassy of Armenia to Lithuania.

The ceremony was attended Arūnas Bubnys, Director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department at the Genocide and Research Centre of Lithuania, representatives of the Lithuanian Seimas, Armenian community, Lithuanian social and political figures, embassy staff and spiritual pastor of the Armenian Apostolic Church in
the Baltic States, Fr. Khosrov Stepanyan, who made a prayer at the beginning of the ceremony.

Ambassador of Armenia to Lithuania Tigran Mkrtchyan in his speech expressed concern over the fact that the heirs of genocide perpetrators pursue aggressive policy of denial, including periodically threatening Armenia, blockading it, threatening the small number of Armenians living in Turkey, carrying out criminal prosecution against those expressing views on the Armenian Genocide other than the official ones, as well as unconditionally supporting the policy of the Azerbaijani authorities directed against Armenia and anti-Armenian propaganda.

Arūnas Bubnys, Director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department at the Genocide and Research Centre of Lithuania, in his speech touched upon the violence and cruelty committed against the Armenians during the genocide.

Ruslan Harutyunyan, Vice-President of the Union of Armenians of Lithuania also delivered a speech, literary works were performed by community representatives. A wreath-laying ceremony took place at the end of the event.

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