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14 July, 2024
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Cyprus’ Armenian rep calls on more countries to recognize

Non-voting MP grateful to Cyprus for island’s support to Armenian families, political cause


The Armenian religious representative in the Cypriot parliament told lawmakers on Thursday that the island’s support to his people has been “invaluable” over the years, with the House observing a moment of silence for victims of the persecuted group during WWI.

Non-voting MP Vartkes Mahdessian, who is serving a five year term as Representative of the Armenian Religious Group, told lawmakers on Thursday that Cyprus had welcomed over 9000 Armenian refugees “with open arms” as one of several host countries.

“Over 1.5 million innocent Armenian martyrs were slaughtered, murdered, or deported and were forced to go on death marches to the inhospitable Deir ez-Zor desert in Syria,” Mahdessian said.

According to the representative, who spoke after a moment of silence for Armenian victims, around 800,000 persecuted refugees had scattered all around the globe and formed the Armenian Diaspora.

“As one of those new homelands, our Cyprus also welcomed with open arms and embraced over 9000 Armenian refugees who arrived mainly in Larnaca,” he said.

'We hope that other countries will follow these examples with the ultimate goal being the total and undeniable recognition by the entire international community'

Mahdessian said his own family was among hundreds that “got a second chance on our island, and this is something for which I will forever remain grateful.”

The representative went on described Cypriot support to Armenians as “invaluable.”

Nicosia raised the Armenian issue at the United Nations in 1965 while in 2015 a law was passed in Nicosia making it a criminal offense to deny the atrocities amounted to genocide, a term vehemently contested by Turkey.

Ankara accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies it was systematic.

US President Joe Biden broke American political tradition in 2021 when he used the weighty word “genocide” in a statement that was meant to honor “all those Armenians who perished in the genocide..." and "we do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated."

During his speech, Mahdessian had some words of criticism for the international community, contrasting what he described as outspoken and broad military support for Ukraine to “scattered words” for Nagorno-Karabakh, where fears of growing tension were rumored to emerge after a previous Moscow-brokered ceasefire in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

The comments came after a border gate between long-feuding Turkey and Armenia opened last month for the first time in 35 years to allow aid for victims of the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey.

Turkey has not had diplomatic or commercial ties with Armenia since the 1990s. But last year, Turkish and Armenian leaders met informally at a European summit, following a meeting by their foreign ministers, in efforts to mend decades of animosity.

Similar steps are currently being taken between Athens and Ankara, with Nicosia welcoming some moves but puzzling over a recent development where Greece and Turkey agreed on reciprocal nominations at UN bodies.

But Mahdessian also praised other developments around the world, including Mexico last month getting on the list of countries that recognized the term Armenian genocide along with the Israeli town of Haifa, where a public square has been dedicated.

“We hope that other countries will follow these examples with the ultimate goal being the total and undeniable recognition by the entirety of the international community,” Mahdessian said.

Cyprus  |  parliament  |  Mahdessian  |  atrocities  |  genocide  |  Armenia  |  Turkey  |  refugee  |  diaspora  |  war  |  conflict

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