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AykazianDemirtas‪WASHINGTON — On December 3, during the Middle East Institute sixth annual conference on Turkey in Washington, Armenian Diocese Archbishop Vicken Aykazian asked visiting member of the Turkish Parliament and co-chair of the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) Selahattin Demirtas whether he sees Turkey acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

“More than one and a half million Armenians were massacred and this year is the 100th anniversary for the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Two thousand seven hundred churches that are occupied and destroyed, only one was given back in your birth place, Diyarbakir,” Aykazian said. “You, as a politician, what do you think? When do you think the Turkish government is going to accept the Armenian Genocide?”

During his response, translated from Turkish to English, Demirtas said that there needs to be a discussion between the two countries on this issue. There have been measures in the past to normalize relations, such as a friendly soccer match between Armenia and Turkey, but it is time for Turkey to overcome hostility and confront it face to face.

Later on, during the third panel titled “Turkey’s Western Partnerships During Troubled Times,” Atlantic Council Vice President and Former US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone congratulated the Middle East Institute for setting a healthy and helpful environment where an Armenian American can ask such a question about the Armenian Genocide and receive an honest response.

— Danielle Saroyan