Statement of Souren Seraydarian, Chairman of the National Congress of Western Armenians at the Political Forum of the 19 January Initiative
It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the Natiuonal Congress 9f Western Armenians to the Political Forum of the 19 January Initiative . Following extensive consultations with Aramaic, Armenian, Assyrian, Hamshin, Kurd, Pontic Greek, Yezidi and Zaza and other minority associations and parties the Berlin and Paris Conferences held earlier this year led to the creation of this initiative and invitation to todays political Forum.
Turkish nationalists , independently of the flag they are raising, Ittihadist, kemalist or Islamist have continued to pursue a plan of completing a demographic operation of transforming Asia Minor to a heartland of the Turkish nation without any consideration for the multiethnic, multicultural and faith of the population. In this mission they used us to create an atmosphere of hatred against each other, devided us through misinformation and manipulation. As a result we, peoples of Asia Minor, our common homeland lived apart ,sometimes in conflict among ourselves, better described by Hrant Dink in his book “two closed peoples, two distant neighbours”.
We came together not against the Turkish nation nor against anybody or anything but keeping aside divergencies to defend our legitimate rights for justice, democracy , the rule of law , respect for human rights and cultural heritage.
Now it is high time to concentrate on what is common for all of us who suffered from crimes against humanity and genocide. During the next two days two working groups will start to define our losses and legitimate rights and establish common mid term and long term objectives.
Our approach must be pragmatic, away from emotions, politically realistic, moving step by step to achieve progress and finding a common denominator. This does not preclude that each group of people deal separately on issues they do not consider to be common to all.
Last but not least: consideration must be given to the need of establishing a sound financial basis to ensure the proper functioning of the Initiative and the future League
I take the opportunity to thank the Lebanese authorities and security forces as well as the Tekeyan Cultural Association for their support for holding this conference in their premises.
I also extend our gratitude to all those who contributed to the preparation of this conference and particularly mr. Hamo Moscofian for establishing and maintaining the contacts with the different groups, mr. Sevak Artsruni, the coordinator selected by the 19 January Initiative, prof. Tessa Hofmann, mr. Marashli and mr. Cetinoglu.
Distinguished participants and colleagues, UNITED WE WILL BE STRONG.