US, France in Meds Yeghern remembrance

US, France in Meds Yeghern remembrance

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
US, France in Meds Yeghern remembrance

Turkish activists held a series of commemoration events in Istanbul, leaving red flowers to mark the day. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

U.S. President Barack Obama avoided using the term “genocide” yesterday in his annual message marking the events of 1915, dubbing the mass killings a “great disaster” (Meds Yeghern), while French President Nicolas Sarkozy was set to attend commemorations in Paris.

April 24, the day Armenians mark the beginning of the mass killings of their kin during the Ottoman Empire, was marked around the world, including Turkey.

Thousands of Armenians staged a procession to a hilltop memorial in Yerevan yesterday to mark the anniversary.

“Today we, just as many, many others all over the world, bow to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian genocide,” Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who led top officials laying wreaths at the monument, said in a statement.

Sarkozy’s challenger for the French presidency, François Hollande, was also expected to participate in ceremonies in Paris.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu played down the memorial day, saying, “There is no difference between April 23 and April 24.”

“Giving such importance to this day is not right,” Davutoğlu said. “Enjoy April 25.”

Commemoration in Istanbul
Turkish activists staged a series of commemoration events in Istanbul to mark the day and sent a letter to prominent Armenian religious authorities to express their sentiments.

“We are penning this letter to your Catholicos office, which represents the spiritual leadership of all the world’s Armenians, to express our shame and respect before the memory of Ottoman-Armenians who were massacred in the process of the genocide, whose properties and wealth were seized and even whose past traces [authorities] have expended considerable efforts in wiping out,” they said.

The activists sent the letter to Etchmiadzin, the religious center of all Armenians in Armenia, and the Catholicos of Cilicia in Lebanon, which was exiled from Anatolia.

“We are penning this letter to you to express our belief that the denial of a genocide, which represents a crime against humanity, amounts to a human rights violation that paves the way for other violations and which fosters enmity and hatred,” the letter said.

The Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Human Rights Association (İHD) staged yesterday’s first rally before the Turkish and Islamic Artifacts Museum in Sultanahmet Square. The museum was once used as a prison where around 250 Armenian intellectuals were briefly held in 1915 before being deported.

US Americans accuse Obama of betrayal for 1915

Ümit Enginsoy - ANKARA

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s visit to Baku is focused only on “bilateral relations and is not directed against” Iran or any other country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on its website. Lieberman’s visit on April 23-24 came amid reports that Israel and Azerbaijan have been strengthening their ties ahead of a possible Israeli military action against Azerbaijan’s neighbor Iran. Lieberman also denied on April 23 that Israel had gained access to air bases in Azerbaijan. “Such reports are from the sphere of science fiction and do not correspond with the truth,” Lieberman told reporters in the Azeri capital Baku.