MEMORANDUM ADDRESSED TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY
Paris, 29 March 2015
We, delegates of Western Armenian patriotic union associations, members of Armenian Diaspora communities, in the presence of observers from political parties have participated, as descendants of Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, in the 4th Congress of Western Armenians, held in Paris on 28 and 29 March, 2015.
The 4th Congress of Western Armenians addressed the historical, political and legal issues of the civilizational disaster that we continue to suffer from due to the consequences of losing our homeland, which our people inhabited for thousands of years.
Based on the conclusions adopted by the Congress, we hereby declare:
As a result of the accession to power of the Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti (Young Turks) party in 1908, a policy of demographic engineering was systematically implemented to transform a multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire into a homogenous and mono-faith state. This policy, inter alia, included intentional actions, such as massacres forced deportation, forced assimilation of the ethnic Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the annihilation of their cultural heritage and an attempt to erase the memory thereof. These same policies have been pursued by the Kemalist government of the Republic of Turkey. The 4th Congress noted that even after the 1950s the authorities of the Republic of Turkey did not take any corrective action to reverse the ongoing consequences of the policy of destruction, deportation of the Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire and the confiscation of private and public properties.
Based on the above, we hereby demand the authorities of the Republic of Turkey to act upon our rightful and fair aspirations and accomplish the following actions:
1. Recognize the presence of the National Congress of Western Armenians as legal entity in Turkey and enter into a direct and constructive dialogue with its representatives and establish without delay a joint agency for the management, coordination and execution of our aspirations and challenges.
2. Adopt a number of subsequent reforms in the Republic of Turkey to establish a viable context on the entire territory of the country for a safe, just and harmonious existence for all peoples living in Turkey, including conditions for those Armenians living in and out of Turkey to be able to freely bear, under the law and morals, their ethnic origin and the fact of being descendants of the Armenians, which were subjects/citizens of the Ottoman Empire.
3. It is and remains our everlasting and indisputable right as an ethnic entity to materialize our will to return to our homeland.
4. Open the Turkish border with the Republic of Armenia immediately and without preconditions and initiate a number of steps for the establishment of interstate confidence and friendly relations with the authorities and population of the Armenian state, among whom live hundreds of thousands of descendants of Western Armenians.
5. Provide unlimited access to the archives, which is necessary for the reestablishment of the rights of western Armenians. This should include all cadaster and civil state archives, in addition to all information related to our moral and material losses (damages incurred whether pecuniary or non-pecuniary) and relevant rights.
6. Return and rehabilitate all community properties, including churches, schools, material and non-material cultural heritage.
7. Invalidate unconditionally all laws and legal acts concerning the expatriation, deportation of ethnic Armenians, liquidation and expropriation of “abandoned properties” thereof and all other exclusive laws and acts that target the Armenians.
8. Adopt legal measures to make subsequent reparations for all individual and collective losses suffered by forefathers of the Western Armenians.
The adoption of the above mentioned measures will contribute to a better understanding among the different ethnic groups living on the territory of the Republic of Turkey and the Armenians. In turn, it will guarantee the aspirations of all for peace, justice and economic growth as well as social development in Turkey and the entire region.
The 4th Congress of Western Armenians considers that the Republic of Turkey and its peoples, in their difficult transition from exclusive nationalism towards inclusive liberal and democratic values respectful of human and minority rights, must develop as a matter of priority a dynamic and constructive policy towards the Western Armenians and engage, without delay, in a constructive dialogue with the National Congress of Western Armenians.
Our aspirations of recognition, return, reparations, and emancipation as descendants of the Armenians who lived on the territory of the Ottoman Empire are based on realistic, fair and – above all – legal considerations, on which, the Western Armenians, remain persistent.
Thus, the Western Armenians, while valuing the historical engagement and the input of the third states to the settlement of the Armenian question, prioritize as part of their current agenda the establishment of a direct dialogue between the Republic of Turkey (as the internationally recognized continuator of the Ottoman Empire), on one hand, and its ethnic Armenian citizens, as well as the Armenian descendants of people who were nationals of the Ottoman Empire, on the other. We are confident that only direct and sincere dialogue may break the ice existing in the current relations and provide for a possibility of solving the existing problems.