YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stressed the importance of normalizing Armenia’s relations with Turkey on Sunday as tens of thousands of people marched to the Tsitsernakabert memorial in Yerevan to mark the 107th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
The annual daylong procession began with an official wreath-laying ceremony at the hilltop memorial led by Pashinyan and President Vahagn Khachaturyan.
The country’s political leaders were again not joined by Catholicos Karekin II, the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, at odds with Pashinyan’s government. Karekin II and other high-ranking clergymen visited Tsitsernakabert separately to hold a traditional prayer service by its eternal fire.
“The goal of Ottoman Turkey was to exterminate our ancestors,” Pashinyan said in a statement released on the occasion.
He called for a greater international recognition of the genocide. He stressed that Armenia will strive for it “not to increase regional tensions but, on the contrary, to defuse the region.”
In that regard, Pashinyan again touted his appointment commitment to “opening an era of peaceful development” in the region after the devastating 2020 war with Azerbaijan, saying that it will strengthen Armenia’s independence and security.