NEW YORK (New York Times) — A lawsuit in Turkey filed by the Armenian Church to recover its ancient headquarters, seized a century ago during the Armenian genocide, is the “first legal step” of a goal to reclaim all Armenian property seized by the Turks, a worldwide leader of the church said on May 18.
The leader, Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, also said that if the Turkish legal authorities rejected the lawsuit, it would “deepen the divide” between Turkey and the 10-million-member Armenian diaspora.
Aram I spoke in an interview at the New York Times while on a visit to diaspora communities in the Northeast after having participated in genocide centennial events in Washington.
He is a leading advocate of the effort to increase global recognition of the 1915-23 killings of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks as a genocide, a description embraced by Pope Francis, the European Parliament and legislatures of more than 20 nations but angrily rejected by Turkey’s government, which calls it a distortion of history.
Legislatures of many American states also have called the killings a genocide. The White House has yet to do so, but Aram I said, “I am sure President Obama, in his heart, knows that this was genocide.”