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Armenian MP accused of promoting Genocide denial

16 April 2024
MP Andranik Kocharyan. Image via Armenian Parliament

An Armenian MP has come under fire for claiming that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called for the compilation of the names of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

MP Andranik Kocharyan, the chair of the Armenian Parliament’s Defence Committee, claimed on Sunday that Pashinyan aimed to make a complete list of victims to ‘build real foundations’ for documentation the Armenian Genocide.

He stated the following day that the creation of the list was ‘very important for building our relations in the future’, and that without it, ‘the other side’ — likely a reference to Turkey — could always refute that the genocide had taken place.

On Tuesday, following criticism of his statement, Kocharyan retracted his claims that Pashinyan ‘aimed’ to compile a list of victims of the genocide and that the topic was not being discussed among members of the ruling Civil Contract party.

Kocharyan first claimed that Pashinyan called for the compilation of the list in an interview with RFE/RL, in which he stated that despite Armenia’s institutional efforts to raise awareness of the genocide, it still lacked a list of victims, which he said was ‘the most important thing’.

‘It’s very simple, isn’t it? That when we say 1.5 million Armenians were massacred, we should be able to take out and put 1.5 million surnames from some archives, and the wall of the Genocide Museum should be covered with those surnames,’ he said.

‘It could be 1.5 million [victims], it could be more or less,’ he said, adding that the ‘Jews succeeded, can’t we?’


Referring to it as an issue left unresolved for decades, Kocharyan added that ‘Real’ Armenia had the opportunity to make the list of victims ‘a reality’.

Last week, Pashinyan gave an hour-long speech in which he spoke about a concept he called ‘Real’ vs ‘Historical’ Armenia, arguing that the two were mutually exclusive and that calling for the territory of ‘Historical’ Armenia harmed Armenia’s sovereignty and independence.

The Armenian Genocide orchestrated by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923 led to the mass killings of nearly 1.5 million Armenians living in Western Armenia — modern-day eastern Turkey.

Many in Armenia criticised Pashinyan’s remarks about abandoning notions of ‘Historical’ Armenia, accusing him of forsaking Yerevan’s goal of reaching wider international recognition for the genocide.

The Armenian Genocide is one of the main stumbling blocks in Armenia’s relations with Turkey, which as the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, denies that the genocide took place.

Pashinyan’s ‘unpredictable’ statements

Kocharyan’s statements were met with criticism by many in Armenia, with some stating that the compilation of a list of victims would be ‘impossible’, or would feed into Turkish propaganda denying the Armenian Genocide.

‘Last year, on 24 April, I was mainly talking about the denial of the Armenian Genocide, but I could not imagine that one of these denial theses should enter the Armenian field directly from Armenians’, said Suren Manukyan, an expert on the Armenian Genocide and the former deputy director of the Genocide Museum in Yerevan.

‘Genocide is not just the killing of many people; it is an act aimed at the destruction of a certain group, and it doesn’t matter how many people are killed during that act’, he said.

He also expressed concern over Pashinyan’s upcoming ‘unpredictable’ statements on 24 April, the Armenian Genocide remembrance day.

In an interview with RFE/RL, Manukyan said that Turkey had since the 1960s been calling on Armenia to prove that the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against Armenians by providing it with a full list of victims.

On Tuesday, Rustam Bakoyan, a Civil Contract MP, denied that Pashinyan had made such statements or that Turkey had demanded that Armenia compile a list of victims of the genocide.

Edita Gzoyan, the director of the Armenian Genocide Museum told news.am that the museum already has a department working on the documentation of the genocide and its survivors and victims.

‘We have done it and we are doing it, but what was said by the MP of the ruling party, we were not consulted,’ she said.

‘The number of 1.5 million is a consensus number by all international scholars working on the Armenian Genocide. In other words, everyone came to that conclusion. Those are pretty solid numbers.’