International Conference organized by the
Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
(23-25 February 2012)
“THE CATHOLICOSATE OF CILICIA CLAIMS OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTIES CONFISCATED BY THE TURKISH AUTHORITIES”
Declared His Holiness Aram I at the Opening of the International Conference on the Armenian Genocide: From Recognition to Reparation
On Thursday 23 February, 2012, the International Conference on the Armenian Genocide: from Recognition to Reparation began in the presence of 120 experts from all over the world, ambassadors, current and former government ministers and members of the Lebanese Parliament, heads of Armenian religious communities and representatives of Armenian political parties and other institutions.
His Holiness welcomed the guests and the participants and explained the background leading to the conference. After stating his expectations from the Conference, in which he referred at length to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, Catholicos Aram I concluded with the following remarks: “Turkey must return the church and community properties confiscated by the Ottoman Turkish authorities to their legal owner, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. As the Catholicosate of Cilicia, we claim the ownership of our properties confiscated by the Turkish authorities”.
Prof. Nora Bayrakdarian introduced the agenda and the two speakers: H.E. Judge Fausto Pocar, Former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and H.E. Judge Joe Verhoeven, ad hoc Judge, International Court of Justice.
Speaking from his experience, Judge Fausto Pocar said that although it is important to list the acts of the Genocide Convention, it is equally important to consider intent and incitement. After mentioning examples from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and that of the Former Yugoslavia, he said that in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the Tribunals clarified the crime of genocide by both applying the acts listed in the 1948 Genocide Convention and showing evidence of intent and incitement. Judge Pocar stated that the same process could take place in the case of the Armenian Genocide.
Judge Verhoeven began by saying that recognition of the Armenian Genocide is an established fact and that the Turkish State is denying part of its own history. He also said that the fact that the Genocide Convention had not been written at the time of the Armenian Genocide is irrelevant and that there is no statute of limitations on the act of the illegal killing of people. The State of Turkey and its territories still exist and it is therefore accountable. Speaking of Church properties, he said that these were semi-public properties: part of the historical heritage of the Armenian people and a necessary component of their identity. Turkey cannot deny the identity of a people. Turkey should respect it and make reparation to the Church, which is responsible owner of this heritage.
The opening session ended with the anthem of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and the prayer of His Holiness Aram I at the Martyr’s Chapel.
“THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE: FROM RECOGNITION TO REPARATION”
I warmly welcome you to this spiritual center of the Armenian Church which is indeed a place of living encounter and interaction between peoples and perspectives. I extend my deep thanks and great appreciation to all of you and particularly to the experts of international law and Armenian Genocide for accepting our invitation to join us in addressing critical issues and questions pertaining to the Armenian Genocide.
The decision of US House of Representatives to urge Turkey to return confiscated churches and church properties to their rightful owners, and the approval of a bill by the French Parliament and the Senate making it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, along with the Turkish government’s aggressive reaction, have, once again, brought the Armenian Genocide to the fore of international headlines. The Armenian Genocide is no longer an exclusive concern of Armenian-Turkish relations; it has become integral part of the global agenda.
The conference will focus on how we can move from recognition of the Armenian Genocide to reparation. What procedures and mechanisms are provided by international law to effect this transition? What are the prospects and challenges before us?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, had an immense impact on the self-understanding of human beings and the self-affirmation of nations and societies. Seeking to protect human dignity, promote justice, build greater peace and generate reconciliation, it also challenged the dictatorial governances and discriminatory patterns and norms existing in many cultures and societies.
The core values and basic principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely the fundamental right of human beings for life, freedom and dignity, are also taught by Christianity. The Bible is the source of human rights. According to Christianity, human rights are God-given, not man-made. As such, they should be recognized, respected, protected and promoted by all human beings, nations and states under any circumstances. To violate human rights is to reject God’s gift of life, freedom and justice; hence, it is a sin against God.
Human rights are not optional; they are integral to the Gospel message. Human rights advocacy is an essential dimension of the prophetic vocation of the church. To deny this commitment, is to negate the very being and the missionary calling of the church. Human rights in general and the Armenian Genocide in particular, are part of the missionary calling of the Armenian Church and they occupy, therefore, an important place on the agenda of its witness.
Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been bolstered with broader networks and mechanism of implementation through treaties, resolutions and conventions, human rights violations have continued, and the UN and the international community have failed “to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance”.
Therefore, the implementation process and enforcement system of human rights need to be strengthened, and early warning systems need to be activated. Furthermore, the efforts of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and other actors in civil society, should be supported by all those who wish to transform societies and build a better world.
.The resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violation of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and, generally speaking, the international criminal law provide an important legal context and juridical framework for matters concerning genocide and war.
In fact, acts committed by Turkey in 1915 are defined in the Convention as Genocide. The Turkish government intended “to destroy, whole or in part, a national, ethnical, social or religious group, as such”; they “killed members of the group”; they “caused serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”; they “deliberately inflicted on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” ….”;
These acts constitute genocide as defined in the Convention and are punishable, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law”. The Convention states that all those persons who have committed genocide “shall be punished”, whether they are “constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals”. And those persons who are charged with genocide shall be tried either in the territory where the act was committed or by an international penal tribunal
The term “genocide” only became part of the vocabulary of international law in 1944; however, the carefully planned and systematically executed attempt of the Ottoman-Turkish government in 1915, which aimed at the total extermination of the Armenian Nation, fits the definition in the Genocide Convention. This act, strongly substantiated by the historical evidence and eye-witness accounts of Armenian and non-Armenian, including Turkish sources, was unequivocally a genocide. The Turkish authorities may deny that it was a crime against humanity; some nations or governments may still keep silent about it for geopolitical reasons. But denial is a dead end.
Negationism will eventually fall short before the truth. The retroactive application of the Convention is a critical issue which will be certainly treated by the Conference. Since only a state that has accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice may submit a case to it, I hope that the Republic of Armenia will soon study this matter and take the necessary action. Are there some other possibilities for legal action, such as taking the Armenian Genocide to a national tribunal or creating a special tribunal or taking it to the European Human Rights Court? These questions need to be addressed from a juridical perspective.
In stressing the crucial importance of the promotion, protection and restoration of justice, the Commission on Human Rights affirmes the right of crime victims “to access to justice,” and spelles out various aspects and procedures of “remedy and reparation” for the “victims of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. 
Regarding the process of reparation, the following issues require scrutiny:
a) The Commission provides a broad definition of victim, stating that “a victim” may also be a dependent or a member of the immediate family or household of the direct victim” .
b) The victim’s effective access to justice includes “all available judicial, administrative, or other public processes under existing domestic laws as well as under international law”. Within the context of the restoration of justice “adequate provisions should also be made to allow groups of victims to present collective claims for reparation and to receive reparation collectively”. And, “reparation should be proportional to the gravity of the violations and the harm suffered”.
c) The state or government under whose authority the genocide occurred is obliged to provide reparation. However, if the state or government responsible for the genocide is no longer in existence, “the State or Government’s successor in title should provide reparation to the victims”.
d) The Commission on Human Rights referres to three forms of reparation: restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. These concepts or forms of reparation may have different connotations and implications in different socio-political contexts and in relation to specific cases. How do they apply to the Armenian Genocide?
For decades we have focused on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Turkey and the international community. In fact, the recent Court cases against American, Turkish and French insurance and private companies; the decision of US Congress to urge Turkey to return churches and church-related properties to their owners, and the Turkish government’s decision on 27 August 2011decided to return to the minorities the properties confiscated since 1936, came to re-emphasize the crucial importance of reparation. Indeed, recognition of truth implies reparation; these acts are intimately interconnected. This is at the heart of international law.
On the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, should we accept a symbolic formal apology and recognition by Turkey of the genocide? Should we claim financial compensation for the victims of Genocide and for the properties? Or, should we claim the return of church, community and personal properties? Further, should we demand that reparation include the damages that the Armenian people were subjected to during the “white genocide”, namely the constant threat to the Armenian identity in a diaspora situation that was caused by the “red genocide”? Should we, finally, consider land reparation within the provisions of international law?. The formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a conditio sine qua non for any attempt or process aimed at restoration of justice. And, as a first concrete step in the direction of reparation, Turkey must return the church and community properties confiscated by the Ottoman Turkish authorities to its legal owner, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. As Catholicosate of Cilicia, which was established in the 10th Century in Cilicia, south-western part of present Turkey, and which was in 1915 forcefully uprooted from its historical seat, we claim the ownership of our properties confiscated by the Turkish authorities.
It is with this objective in mind that we have set the agenda of this conference.
CATHOLICOS OF CILICIA
 Cf. Human Rights, Articles 1, 3.
 Cf. Isa. 61:1, Mt. 25: 35-40, Gal. 3: 28.
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble.
 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2.
 Convention, Article 2.
 Convention, Article 1.
 Ibid., Article 4.
 Ibid., Article 6.
 Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide” in 1944 and that paved the way for UN to adopt the Conventio on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
 Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violation of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Annex to Commission on Human Rights), II, c, d, e.
 “A person is a victim where, as a result of acts or omissions that constitute a violation of international human rights or humanitarian law norms, that person, individually or collectively, suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss, or impairment of that person’s fundamental legal rights”. Ibid., V.
 Remedy and Reparation, VIII, 12.
 Ibid., VIII, 13.
 Ibid., IX, 15.
 Ibid., IX.
 “Restitution should, whenever possible, restore the victim to the original situation before the violations of international human rights or humanitarian law occurred. Restitution includes: restoration of liberty, legal rights, social status, family life and citizenship; return to one’s place of residence; and restoration of employment and return of property” .
 “Compensation should be provided for any economically assessable damage resulting from violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as: a) Physical or mental harm, including pain, suffering and emotional distress; b) Lost opportunities, including education; c)Material damages and loss of earnings, including loss of earning potential; d)Harm to reputation or dignity; and e) Costs required for legal or expert assistance, medicines and medical services, and psychological and social services”
 “Rehabilitation should include medical and psychological care as well as legal and social services”.
“APOLOGY, RECOGNITION, REPARATION AND FORGIVENESS MUST BE TAKEN AS ONE WHOLE” ARAM I
Speaking about the first two sessions of the International Conference on the Armenian Genocide taking place in Antelias, His Holiness said that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide was the focal point of the discussion.
He said that “recognition is not an isolated act, it is part of a process. This process involves apology, recognition, reparation and forgiveness. This process will eventually lead to reconciliation”.
Aram I referred to impunity as a critical issue that must be seriously addressed by the international community. He said that we must “combat the culture of impunity”. According to Aram I “unless those committed crimes against humanity are called to accountability, genocides in different ways and forms will continue”.
The theme of the Conference, which is organized by the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, is “from recognition to reparation”. More than 80 experts of international law and genocide take part in this conference.
“THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE: FROM RECOGNITION TO REPARATION”
On Friday, 24th February, 2012, at 9:00 a.m., the first session of the International Conference on the Armenian Genocide: from Recognition to Reparation was opened by Prof. Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Chair of Public International Law, Queen Mary, University of London, UK.
The theme of Session One was “Recognition of the Armenian genocide and implications”.
Prof. Fernando Teson, Prof. of Public International Law, Florida State University, USA, was the first presenter.
In the matter of reparation for the Armenian Genocide, said Prof. Teson, the question is not ‘should Turkey pay’, but rather how much must they pay. He stated that there is no question but that there was a genocide: “It is”, he said, “a crime, straight out.” In Prof. Teson’s opinion, Armenians have the right to demand a public apology from Turkey. The apology, along with the acknowledgement of this great crime, must be accompanied by reparation.
The second presenter was Prof. Richard Wilson, Prof. of Law and Director, International Human Rights Law Clinic, American University, Washington College of Law, USA.
Prof. Wilson said that the truth of the Armenian genocide is a given and certainly should be acknowledged and remedied. Human rights, he stated, are not realized until injustice is remedied. He spoke of impunity and commented on the principles of International Humanitarian Laws on impunity and concluded that remedies, in the case of Turkey and the Armenian diaspora, as well as others, should match the victims’ loss.
The third presenter was Prof. Ove Bright, Prof. of International Law, Swedish National Defense College, Stockholm, Sweden.
Prof. Bright reviewed the historical documents surrounding the Armenian Genocide in order to show that genocidal intent was present on the side of the Turkish authorities. He noted that there is no time limit on crimes against humanity: the theft of the Armenian property is, he stated, an ongoing crime.
Session Two was chaired by Judge Joe Verhoeven, ad hoc Judge, International Court of Justice, Prof. of Public International Law, University Paris II, Pantheon-Assas, Direcvtor of the Institut Des Hautes Etudes Internationales.
The theme of the session was “Jurisdiction over the crime of genocide”.
Prof. Dov Jacobs, Prof. in International Criminal Law, Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, The Hague, Leiden University, The Netherlands spoke about the frustrations that international mechanisms sometime create in responding to cases of genocide because of intent and incitement. At the same time, he noted that international tribunals are generally quite open to a flexible approach to the principle of legality.
Prof. Frederic Megret is Canada Research Chair in the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism: Prof. of International Law, McGill University, Canada, referring to the term ‘genocide’. He stated that behind legal terms, there is also strategic debate. He identified issues that could help the Catholicosate of Cilicia deal with the Armenian Genocide and reparation.
His Holiness Aram I concluded the session by saying that the Armenian Genocide is a continuous crime because Armenians were deported by the Ottomans and properties were confiscated.
Session Three was chaired by Prof. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Prof. of Public International Law, Graduate Institute, University of Geneva, Switzerland.
The theme of the session was “State Responsibility under International Law”.
In her introduction, Prof. Gowlland-Debbas asked what procedures and rules are applicable in hand that would help focus the discussion.
Prof. Marco Roscini, Prof. of Public International Law, University of Westminster, UK, discussed a methodological approach to the applicability of the Genocide Convention.
Prof. Patrick Dumberry, Prof. of Public International Law, University of Ottawa, Canada, argued that Turkey should take responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, which is an international act, because Turkey is a continuation of the Ottoman Empire, and a continuing state is responsible for the acts of its predecessor.
Prof Christian J. Tams, Chair of Public International Law, University of Glasgow, UK, discussed the context and assumptions involved in international wrongful acts committed by states. He said that implementation depends on the framework within which responsibility is described. He mentioned several UN mechanisms and treaties that could be referred to.
Each session was followed by lively and informative discussion involving the participants, the international experts and the audience, composed of representatives of Armenian political parties, community institutions and researchers.
“THE ARMENIAN DIASPORA IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE GENOCIDE OF 1915”: HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
Friday, 24th February 2012, Session 4: “The Right for Reparation and the Role of National Courts”.
The final session of Day 1 of the conference, which focused on case studies taken from various national courts, was chaired by Prof. Enzo Cannizzaro, Prof. of International and European Law, La Sapienza of Rome, Italy.
Prof. Rainer Hofmann, Prof. of Public International Law, University of Frankfurt, Germany, explained provisions of the International Court of Justice and international humanitarian law by referring to specific cases concerning Germany and Japan from World Wars I and II. He also discussed Article IV of the 1907 Hague Convention, “Protection of one’s own citizens”.
He then explained distinctions between international and national law rights. In his conclusion, he suggested studying state liability according to Turkish law.
Prof. Marcel Brus, Prof. of Public International Law, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, stated that an individual has an important place in international law. He cited cases in which the Dutch government has responded to individual demands. He also cited a case in which the Dutch law of 1992 was applied retroactively to a massacre by members of the Dutch military that happened in 1937. The Dutch court in this case acted on the basis of fairness and impunity; Prof. Brus said that the court’s action was eased by the change in the Dutch public opinion towards their history over the past 50 years.
Prof. Michael Bohlander, Chair in Comparative and International Criminal Law, Durham University, UK, stated that it is difficult to get states to make reparation because of state immunity. He discussed questions related to the victim, the defendant and compensation in national courts.
Aram I closed the session with the following statement: “In 1915 we were deported; we lost property, life, everything; I am now seeking justice and an answer to impunity. This should be the focus of our deliberations tomorrow”.
ARMENIAN RIGHTS AND PROPERTIES
Session 1 – Toward a Qualitative and Quantitative Data “of Armenian Rights and Properties”
Prof. Marina Kurchiyan, Acting Director of the Center for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford Universit, UK chaired the session.
In the first session of the second day, the speakers unpacked the historical and legal realities behind Turkish actions before, during and after 1915, with clear evidence Turkey’s intent for genocide and property theft.
Prof. Ohannes Geukjian, Prof. of Political Science, American University of Beirut, Lebanon, discussed the history of Armenian Church ownership of property in Cilicia, dating from 1293 in Sis, the capital of the Cilician Kingdom and reaching 1915. He then detailed the strategies that the Turkish government employed to confiscate Armenian properties after assuring Armenians that those properties would be kept in trust until their return.
Prof. Susan Karamanian, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies, George Washington University, USA, discussed the economic aspects of Turkey’s treatment of the Armenians and argued that evidence that the deportation of Armenians and seizure of property display intent on the part of the Ottomans and later the Young Turks. She pointed out that Armenian money had been transferred to Austrian and German banks by the Turkish government. She also noted that although the Treaty of Sevres was never ratified, its terms show the intent of the international community to bring economic justice to the Armenians.
Prof. Taner Akcam, Prof. of History, Clark University, USA, showed how the Turkish authorities had the Turkish authorities made it legally impossible for Armenians ever to claim their lost property. He called these laws “part of the structural component of genocide”. He noted that in 1920, the government passed a law stating that properties were to be given back to Armenians; however, the law was annulled before the Turks went to negotiate the Lausanne Treaty.
HIS HOLINESS ARAM I ANNOUNCES THE ROADMAP TO LEAD THE CATHOLICOSATE OF CILICIA FROM RECOGNITION OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE TO REPARATION
On Saturday 25 February 2012, at the final session, His Holiness Aram I thanked the experts, the participants and Prof. Nora Bayrakdarian, the organizer of the conference.
He then announced that he will collaborate with the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical Churches to seek compensation for the confiscated Churches and church-related properties, as well as religious and cultural objects.
Speaking of the international mechanisms for establishing justice, the Catholicos said, “International law and its relevant international norms arising from treaties, conventions and resolutions of the UN General Assembly challenge impunity in all forms, spell out the international legal principles of accountability, justice and rule of law and affirm the necessity of reparation. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property,” and that “return of property” is an integral and essential part of reparation. Turkey may continue denying the Armenian Genocide, it may continue spending significant political capital and issuing threats in an attempt to block initiatives aimed at the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. But, it cannot deny the very fact that about two million Armenians, Ottoman citizens, in 1915 were forcefully driven out from their homes, leaving behind them thousands of churches, monasteries, schools, hospitals, community and private properties and a huge spiritual. cultural, intellectual and financial wealth.”
Addressing the issue of properties, His Holiness said, “the policy of denial does not exempt Turkey from its legal obligation towards the Armenian properties. As a first and concrete step towards a full restoration of the legitimate rights of the Armenian people, church and community properties must be returned to their rightful owners.” He then reminded the audience that “the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, itself a victim of Genocide, has the moral and legal obligation and the legitimate right to claim its own properties.
In Conclusion, Catholicos Aram I said, “the genocide, the forced exodus of Armenians from their centuries-old homeland, confiscation of Armenian properties and devaluation of Ottoman citizenship of Armenians are not fiction, but concrete facts; they are not unrelated incidents or arbitrary measures but part of pan-Turanian policy of Turkey.” He then outlined an action plan to be taken soon “Based on the deliberations of the experts in international law and the emerging conclusions of this conference, and taking into consideration the provisions provided by international law, the Catholicosate of Cilicia, in collaboration with the political parties, community leadership and main players of the Armenian Committees, will work towards gaining reparation from Turkey. I will seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice through the United Nations on the legal consequences of the Armenian Genocide. I believe that NGOs and civil society could play an advocacy role by challenging the UN to take action to this effect. I will explore the possibility of raising the Armenian case to the European Court of Human Rights, based on human rights violations related to the Genocide and the confiscation of properties. I am confident that you, the experts in international law, too will help us in this process.
Because of the present political landscape and geopolitical interests, this is not an easy process. However, we are determined to embark on this critical process with renewed faith and firm determination, and, as I said last night, the role of the Republic of Armenia is pivotal in this respect.”
CONCLUDING REMARKS OF HIS HOLINESS ARAM I
As experts in human rights, international law and the Armenian Genocide, you have analyzed and affirmed, through your presentations and discussions, that the demand of the Armenian people for reparation is valid in the context of the provisions of the United Nations’ conventions, international treaties and international criminal law. You also referred to the limits and imitations, ambiguities and imperfections of international law and identified a number of critical problems related to the application of international law in the context of geopolitical relations which may hamper any process towards reparation. Further, you opened new dimensions for deeper and comprehensive scrutiny and new avenues to move forward.
We must be realistic: neither we can continue any more advocating only the recognition of the Armenian Genocide nor we can move forward smoothly towards a comprehensive reparation. We should avoid these extremes. What should we do?
International law and its relevant international norms arising from treaties, conventions and resolutions of UN General Assembly challenge impunity in all forms, spell out the international legal principles of accountability, justice and rule of law, and affirm the necessity for reparation. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”, and that “return of property” is an integral and essential part of reparation. Hence, the confiscation of properties is a continuous crime against humanity. The international law provides the legal basis for the successors of the victims of genocide to present a collective claim for the return of properties to their rightful owners.
Turkey may continue denying the Armenian Genocide, it may continue spending significant political capital and issuing threats in an attempt to block initiatives aimed at recognition of the Armenian Genocide. But, it cannot deny the very fact that about one and a half million Armenians, Ottoman citizens, in 1915, with the pretext of “relocation” to avoid “intercommunal clashes” and for “strategic reasons because of war” – reasons given by the Turkish authorities – were forcefully driven out from their homes leaving behind them thousands of churches, monasteries, schools, hospitals, community and private properties and a huge spiritual, cultural, intellectual and financial wealth.
It is important once again to remind ourselves of a few facts about the Armenian properties. A law signed by the Ottoman-Turkish government on May 1915 states that “the land and properties belonging to Armenians who have been sent elsewhere as a result of the state of war and the extraordinary political situation… will be immediately sealed by the special council… and will be registered and taken under protection…. The same law also assures that “the money received as a result of the sale will be preserved at the financial office in the name of the previous owner”. In contrast to this law, and in order to give a permanent solution to the complex issue of properties, the Ottoman-Turkish government invented the theory of “abandoned” properties and put on sale and public auction the Armenian properties even providing payment facilities to accelerate the sale. This act of the Ottoman-Turkish government was indeed the continuation of the Armenian Genocide.
I repeat: the policy of denial does not exempt Turkey from its legal obligation towards the Armenian properties. Irrespective of the Turkish law of so called “abandoned” properties, the Armenians have never given up their ownership, they remain the legal owners of these properties according to the international law, the Lausanne agreement which was signed by Turkey as well as according to the Turkish domestic law Therefore, within the context of reparation for the Armenian Genocide, at this point in time and as a first and concrete step towards a full restoration of the legitimate rights of the Armenian people, church and community properties must be returned to their rightful owners. Here I have before me almost a complete list of churches and church-related properties, which were duly registered by state offices, before the Genocide (1912-13). The necessary documentation and information on these properties could be found in the archives of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople as well as in individual documents.
The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, itself a victim of Genocide, has the moral and legal obligation and the legitimate right to claim its own properties. I have before me a document of unique importance. On 14 April 1921 Zakaria Bezdikian, president of the Armenian Council of Cilicia, and an adviser to the Catholicos on legal matters, presented on behalf of His Holiness Sahak II Catholicos of Cilicia a Memorandum to the High Commissioner of France in Syria and Lebanon, which contains a full list of church properties belonging to the Catholicosate of Cilicia. This same Memorandum also includes a well-documented assessment of the economic losses of Armenians because of the Genocide and the necessity for reparation. 
Therefore, the genocide, the forced exodus of Armenians from their centuries-old homeland, confiscation of Armenian properties and devalidation of Ottoman citizenship of Armenians are not fiction, but concrete facts; they are not unrelated incidents or arbitrary measures but part of pan-Turanian policy of Turkey.
The principle of the “return to their homes…, and compensation for the property of those choosing not to return as well as for loss of or damage to property…” has been on several occasions reaffirmed by the General Assembly of UN. 
I strongly believe that the time has arrived that a lawsuit be filed against the Republic of Turkey as successor of the Ottoman-Turkey demanding the immediate and unconditional return of the churches and church-owned properties to their rightful owners.
Based on the deliberations of the experts in international law and the emerging conclusions of this Conference, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, in collaboration with the Armenian Catholic and Evangelic churches and Armenian political parties, community leadership and major players of Armenian Communities
1) Will explore with organized efforts the concrete possibilities of moving forward taking into consideration the provisions provided by the international law.
2) Will seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice through the UN on the legal consequences of the Armenian Genocide. I believe thaty NGO’s and civil society could play advocacy role by challenging the UN to take concrete action to this effect.
3) Will also explore the possibilities of raising the Armenian case before the European Court of Human Rights, based on human rights violation related to genocide and confiscation of properties.
This is not an easy process, taking into consideration the present political landscape and geopolitical interests. However, we are determined to embark on this critical process with renewed faith and firm determination. The role of the Republic of Armenia is pivotal in this respect.
We are seeking justice: recognition of the Armenian Genocide and reparation. This is a challenge before us. The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia is ready to respond to this challenge with strong commitment and a profound sense of responsibility.
CATHOLICOS OF CILICIA
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 17.
 Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violation of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Annex to Commission on Human Rights), X, 22.
 Kevork K. Baghdjian, The Confiscation of Armenian Properties by the Turkish Government Said to be Abandoned, trans. and ed. by A.B. Gureghian, Antelias, 2010, p. 480.
 Baghdjian, Confiscation, p. 482.
 Ibid., pp. 497-509. For the full text of the law on properties, see Baghdjian, Confiscation , pp. 491-494.
 cf. Teodik, Armenian Golgotha, Constantinople, 1923; Teodik, Golgotha, edited and published by Rev. Nerses Pakhdikian, Antelias, 1966; A. Kh. Safrasdian “The Inventory and Registrations of the Armenian Churches and Monasteries presented to the Turkey’s Ministry or Justice by the Patriarchate of Constantinople (1912-1913)” Etchmiadzin, 1965, Jan. pp. 40-47, 1965, Febr.-March, April pp. 174-187, 1965, Oct. pp. 43-48, 1966, Febr. p. 38-44, 1966, March, pp. 57-60, 1966, June, pp. 41-47, 1966, March, pp 57-60, 1966, June, pp. 41-47, 1966, July, pp. 55-60, 1966, August, pp. 60-63, 1966, Sept.–Oct. pp. 106-114.
 The Catholicosate is the administrative headquarters of the Armenian Church, where the Catholicos, the head of the Church, resides. The Catholicosate was transferred from Armenia to Cilicia at the beginning of the 11th Century with the massive move of the Armenian people due to political and security reasons. In Cilicia the Armenians established their own principality and then a kingdom till 1375. The Catholicosate together with its people was therefore alreay in Cilicia before the invasion of Seljuks and Tatars the forefathers of Turks to the region.
 For the list of church properties belonging to the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, see Puzant Yeghiayan, History of Armenians of Adana, 1970, Antelias, pp 871-891.
 Baghjian, Confiscation, p. 301.