President Biden adopted a decision of historic magnitude, of historic importance by recognizing the Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Empire. This is what Armenia's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States Varuzhan Nersesyan said in an interview with BBC.
Becky Anderson:Well, Varuzhan Nersesyan is the Armenian Ambassador to United States. He joins this live from Boston. Could we please have your opinions. By recognizing the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War One as a genocide Joe Biden of course is breaking with his predecessors and decades of US foreign policy. I just wanted you to explain the significance of this and the impact it will have on Armenia and Armenians around the world.
Ambassador Nersesyan: Well, thank you very much Becky. Of course on April 24th President Biden adopted a decision of historic magnitude, of historic importance by recognizing the Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Empire. This comes in addition to the 2019 Congressional recognition by the US House of Representatives and U.S. Senate of the Armenian Genocide by which now the United states officially recognizes the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in their historic Homeland and this is as such as an act of historic importance. Of course this is not only about the past atrocities and past genocides. This is also very much a message to our contemporary times and to the future. Armenian Genocide was the first genocide in the 20th century and as such because it was not at the time of the genocide in the middle of the First World War condemned and recognized, it set a very tragic precedence for other genocides in the history of humankind. And then we saw the other crimes against humanity such as the Holocaust of the Jewish people, the genocide in the Rwanda, in Darfur and elsewhere and up until now. That's why the recognition is very important and also on the precedence of the Armenian Genocide the very term genocide was coined by Rafael Lemkin. So in this sense of course it has a lot to do with our also current times.
Bucky Anderson: So this announcement effectively equating the anti-Armenian violence in the First World War with the atrocities on the scale of those committed in Nazi Germany and in Rwanda as you as you rightly pointed out. Turkey and it was the Ottoman Empire that Joe Biden blamed for these mass killings and chose to describe it as genocide not Turkey. But Turkey says claims of genocide are outrageous and it has told the USA that this announcement has, let me quote him here, I quote Ankara here ''opened a wound in relations between the two'' and that will not surprise you at all. I wonder what you believe the broader geopolitical implications are of America making this declaration after all you have been lobbying Washington or your predecessors certainly have for years to ensure that the Americans would finally make this declaration.
Varuzhan Nersesyan: Thank you, Becky. Of course this declaration is an opportunity for Turkey itself to reconcile itself with its past and to recognize. Because if Turkey wants to heal the wounds, not to open the wounds. But this declaration is there an opportunity to heal the wounds and to open an opportunity for Turkey itself to recognize the Armenian Genocide and normalize afterwards the relations with his neighbor - with Armenia. But Turkey not only has not recognized the genocide but has been in complete denial and this denialism is what causes these waves of recognitions. And we are deeply grateful to President Biden for this historic recognition. So this recognition comes to bring a more security to our region and looks towards the future. But Turkey..
Bucky Anderson: Yeah I wonder if it does or not. So that they completely just put this point to you because I know what you wanted to achieve but I wonder whether that is what it will achieve because Ankara with President Erdogan in charge is absolutely furious about this. Look, Armenia's Prime Minister resigned yesterday in order to trigger an early election in June and he's been facing sustained criticism over his decision to call a cease fire last year with the conflict with Armenia's neighbor Azerbaijan backed significantly by Turkey in that. There is also lot of political unrest in the region around Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. There's been an awful lot of protest. I just wonder whether firstly you think these elections are going to solve any of these tensions in your country and whether you genuinely believe that by the US making this declaration which is fantastic for Armenians around the world, but whether you genuinely think that's going to actually plaster over the cracks in this region or actually could make them worse.
Varuzhan Nersesyan: Thank you, Becky. I genuinely believe this declaration is going to contribute to the peace and security in our region. But as I wanted to say that Turkey not only did not recognize the Armenian genocide and was in complete denial. Turkey in our days continues to threaten and destabilized and to threaten Armenia. Just like last September Azerbaijan conducted a full aggression with Turkish participation and support against the people of Nagorno Karabakh or Artsakh, Turkey became a full part of that war dispatching foreign terrorist fighters, jihadist terrorists there and dispatching is deadly drones there and its commandos. So, Turkey continues its policy. That's why the recognition of Armenian Genocide is acute and extremely important because up until now Turkey continues the same genocidal intentions and genocidal policies towards the modern Republic of Armenia. That's why the declaration is not only about the crime that took place 106 years ago but also about our modern times trying to bring all those who tends to, you know, implement policies of aggression and policies of attacks to back to order. This is not a time global disorder, this is a time of order and International Security. As to the elections in Armenia all I can say of course there are there is now internal domestic political debates in Armenia, but Armenia is firm on his path towards democracy as different from Azerbaijan and Turkey - two authoritarian states in our region. Armenia will overcome these difficulties and the people of Armenia who are the survivors of you know, who are Genocide survivors, they have the resilience and political will to construct modern Democratic, vibrant Democratic society. And as Armenia heads towards elections on June 20 the people will have a choice to decide and then to continue the path forward.
Bucky Anderson: Let's just close this conversation with the sense of what this all means for Armenians, the Diaspora around the world many of whom of course, certainly those of a certain generation live with the ghosts of this genocide and it has been a huge part of your nation's identity. I know you'll also admit that there will be younger generations who simply wanted to move on from the ghosts of what had happened in the past. I just wonder just what sort of closure does this announcement by the White House bring to the Armenian community.
Varuzhan Nersesyan: This announcement Becky brings to Armenian- American community and Armenians worldwide a great degree of hope for the future that this will contribute to the regional peace and security in our region, because by calling the things by their own name, which is genocide, by recognizing the truth, we set the grounds, firm foundations for secure future in our region. And I hope, as I said in the beginning, Turkey will come into terms after this declaration and would recognize and reconcile itself with its own history to set a foundations for better future in our region. After all the people of Armenia, all they want - to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors but addressing looking to the truth, addressing the realities and setting up better foundations for regional peace and security.
Bucky Anderrson: With that Ambassador, we will leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us. A truly historic declaration by the US administration in Washington over the weekend.