Opening statement of Souren Seraydarian, chairman of the Congrès National des Arméniens Occidentaux (National Congress of Western Armenians)
On behalf of the NCWA, I have the great honor and pleasure to welcome all of you to this Asia Minor Peoples Conference; United in Rights.
We decided to initiate this event on this particular date, because of Hrant Dink’s legacy and message to us which is summarized in one sentence “Justice through reconciliation, truth, dialogue and Democracy”
Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkish, Aramaic, Yazidi and all Asia Minor populations shared during the last centuries a common tragedy. As a result some of us lost everything they had including their lives, property and cultural heritage while others became only residents of a large geographical area, once known as Asia Minor. And today, we all can see, that whatever happened to Non-Muslims in the 19th and 20th century may happen today to Non-Turks.
In order to make this program come true, on April 2016, the National Council of The NCWA created a special commission and named its Secretary General, Mr. Sevak Artsruni as coordinator of our Asia Minor Peoples’ dialogue Program.
Turkish nationalists whether they bear Ottoman, Islamist, Ittihadist or Kemalist flags have all been working on the plan of completing the demographic operation of transforming Asia Minor to the Hartland of the Turkish Nation. In this mission, they used us, ones against others, divided us through misinformation and manipulation using nationalist , religious and ethnic pretexts. That is why we, peoples of Asia Minor, lived apart for centuries better described by Hrant Dink in his book ”two close peoples, two distant neighbors ”
Now, we have come together not against the Turkish nation and in general not against anyone or anything. We come together, keeping aside divergences to defend our common rights, for all that unites us, for the homeland and the common values that we share since centuries.
We all have suffered huge losses, and we all have been struggling for our rights, separately and sometimes in contradicting each other. Now it is time to create a common denomination of our common Cause. It is time to define our losses, our claims, our legal rights and draw the main lines of a common objectives for justice and peace.
This is what you experts and specialists will try to do together today during three panels;
Tomorrow we will try to launch a joint initiative; an entity that will lead us in harmony towards the dream Hrant Dink has inspired us. Tomorrow during a round table discussion we will try to move forward on a path of unity, truth, dialogue, democracy, peace and harmonious cohabitation.
The National Congress of Western Armenians salutes all the organizations and individuals who joined us on this fantastic journey, and above all I wish to thank Miss Tessa Hofmann, Mr Sait Cetinoglu, Mr Selim Touma Kako and Mr Recep Marasli who made this meeting come true.
I also would like to salute the official representative of the HDP Miss Hezer Tugba, the official representative of the Armenian Parliament Mr. Shirag Torosyan, and the Lebanese parliamentarian Mr. Shant Chichinian; their presence to this event will be a source of inspiration and a hope for dialogue and democracy.