April 26, 1999

Yerevan, Armenia - Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian Wednesday (April 21) told a visiting American delegation, led by the grandson and namesake of the Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, that obtaining world-wide reaffirmation of the Genocide of 1915 is a priority for his government.

“For many years, the perception was that recognition of the Armenian Genocide was the primary task of the Diaspora, not Armenia,” he said. “Today, it is not only the Diaspora’s goal; it is also an important task for my government. My belief is that our joint efforts will result in recognition of the Genocide within the next few years.”

The President explained his government’s position during a 30-minute audience with the Morgenthau delegation Wednesday.

Sponsored by the Armenian National Institute of Washington, DC, the delegation is in Armenia to attend a conference and ceremony honoring Ambassador Morgenthau who was among the first to alert the world to the 1915 Genocide. His grandson, Henry Morgenthau III and two great-grandsons, Dr. Ben Morgenthau and Kramer Morgenthau are among the visiting guests. The delegation also included US Holocaust Memorial Council representatives Kitty Dukakis and Diane Asadorian, Armenian National Institute (ANI) founder Hirair Hovnanian, Board of Governors member Carolyn Mugar, ANI Academic Council Chairman Richard Hovannisian, representatives of the Union of Armenians of Italy Pietro and Anna Maria Kuciukian and ANI Director Rouben Adalian.

ANI founder Hirair Hovnanian reaffirmed the Diaspora’s dedication to obtaining recognition of the Genocide. “Today, we reiterate to you our belief in the importance of this task and our dedication to assisting you in obtaining reaffirmation,” he said. Hovnanian added that ANI’s 1998 joint conference with Armenia’s Center for Constitutional Law and the National Academy of Sciences was an important step in speeding the process.

Union of Armenians of Italy representative Pietro Kuciukian reported to the President that the approach in Italy has been to take gradual steps, obtaining recognition of the Genocide in individual cities “until one day Rome will also reaffirm.”

President Kocharian responded that there were interesting parallels with the United States where the Diaspora is seeking similar action in individual states.

“The US has a primary role because if this matter is settled in that country, it will have a corresponding effect in others.” He said that last year had produced “good evidence of progress around the world.” But he added, “We should pursue recognition for long term reasons and not be content to seek recognition for its own sake. The Armenian community in every country will not rest until we succeed.”

US Holocaust Memorial Council representative Kitty Dukakis told President Kocharian that efforts to obtain recognition of the Armenian Genocide “had great resonance with the Holocaust Museum” and reiterated her continued support in securing curriculums that include instruction about this historical fact within state educational systems.

ANI Director Rouben Adalian concluded the delegation’s comments with a report to the President on ANI’s progress during the past year with regard to research and documentation. He said that the objective of all ANI’s work is to begin to consider the evidentiary value of this growing body of documentation.

During the audience, President Kocharian also offered a warm welcome to Armenia to Henry Morgenthau and his family. “There is no Armenian in the world for whom your grandfather’s name is not known,” he said. “Your participation here this week adds a special significance to our efforts.”

Morgenthau replied that it was a great honor for him and his family to be received by the President. He added, “What my grandfather tried to do in 1915, and thereafter, to help the Armenians, was probably the proudest moment of his long career.”

ANI Board of Governors member Carolyn Mugar, a long-time friend of the Morgenthau family, told the President that while still a child, her father had introduced her to the Morgenthau family and told her to always maintain that friendship. “It was easy to follow his wishes,” she said. “Henry Morgenthau is here today not only as a symbol, but as a true activist and partner.”

Mugar added that the presence in Armenia this week of every single member of this delegation is “a sign of action” with regard to seeking recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The President closed the meeting by thanking the delegation and repeating his government’s deep commitment.

The conference honoring Ambassador Morgenthau took place April 22 and was entitled “The Armenian Genocide: Ambassador Morgenthau, and the American Response, 1914-1923.” It was co-sponsored by the Armenian National Institute, Washington, DC and the National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia.

Commemorative services for the late Ambassador Henry Morgenthau were held April 23 at the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial, Yerevan, Armenia. At that time, Dr. Pietro Kuciukian oversaw the interment of an urn containing earth from the Ambassador’s gravesite into the Genocide Memorial’s wall of honor. A commemorative plaque indicates its presence. The Armenian National Institute, the Armenian Genocide Museum and the Union of the Armenians of Italy co-sponsored the ceremony.

US Ambassador to Armenia Michael Lemmon addressed both the conference and the ceremony.

The Armenian National Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.