At the end of the long reign of the Ottoman Empire – just a century ago –   Europe faced the conflict that would have affected a whole century, the world was witnessing first the persecution and then the genocide of the Armenians.

***

April 2015 was the month dedicated to remembrance and ALDA – the European Association for Local Democracy – wants to make the importance of this tragedy and the impact it had for the future of Europe.

The massacre  of a national minority, such as the Armenians, sadly set the ground for decades of conflicts and further massacres. In Europe of that time, just a few admitted what could not be hidden anymore – taking a stand on the issue.

Before the casus belli, in Sarajevo, which initiated the First World War, only few pacifists  clearly saw how deep  was the black hole in front of them. We could here only remember the famous and historical brave stand taken by Jean Jaurès at the French National Assembly: he was among of a very few group stating that “Armenians have to be saved” and, if not, all of us would have suffered the consequences in our souls and in this way we would have shaped our future. And that’s was what happened. Jean Jaurès was assassinated on 31st July 1914, the day before of the general mobilisation that  break out  the First World War.

Europe was marked by the tragedy of Armenians for not having acted and for having forgotten a people that had an important role in the European history. So they were mostly eliminated from their land, becoming people that mainly lived and live in the diaspora spread throughout the world. The State called nowadays Armenia represents just a small part of what the land inhabited by a majority of Armenians was before – which obviously included part of the modern Turkey, as well as Syria, and in particular in the area of Aleppo, sadly famous in these last days.

The conflict and the instability of Southern Caucasus, that sees the opposition between Armenia and Azerbaijan for the land of Nagorno Karaback, has also its roots in this history, which – through violence – laid the foundations for further conflicts.

This land, between Europe and Asia –  in the Soviet Union until 1990 – is a junction point that continuously vibrates. Furthermore it is located in a strategic area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the  ground of which is full of petrol. It is located south of Russia, being consequently included in that area influenced by the overall logic “with me or against me”. Challenges  are faced and happen at the same time and some of them are the results of those facts happened a century ago.

Today, a warning for us all – and in the ongoing construction of Europe – it’s represented by the necessity of being able  to admit  and valorise differences. Each minority has to be considered and respected, also knowing that one day we may be – as a minority – in a bigger group that points us as “the different”. Rights and respect of diversity is at the very root of the post-war European construction. Without this value, Europe would not have made progress, becoming what it is today. We must not succumb to the one minute information and therefore, accepting of having a short-term memory. We must remember and build a peaceful Europe with a common and shared future, based on the values of respect of human rights, minorities and differences.

ALDA works in Gyumri, in northern Armenia, supported by the Friuli Venezia-Giulia Region (Italy) and the Rhone-Alpes Region (France). Several associations from the Shirak Region (Northern Armenia) collaborate with us. Since 2011 we develop projects to support the local community with the European partnership.

Read more on Local Democracy Agency Armenia

Antonella VALMORBIDA,
Glavni tajnik ALDA - Europskog udruženja za lokalnu demokraciju
www.alda-europe.eu

At the end of the long reign of the Ottoman Empire – just a century ago –   Europe faced the conflict that would have affected a whole century, the world was witnessing first the persecution and then the genocide of the Armenians.

***

April 2015 was the month dedicated to remembrance and ALDA – the European Association for Local Democracy – wants to make the importance of this tragedy and the impact it had for the future of Europe.

The massacre  of a national minority, such as the Armenians, sadly set the ground for decades of conflicts and further massacres. In Europe of that time, just a few admitted what could not be hidden anymore – taking a stand on the issue.

Before the casus belli, in Sarajevo, which initiated the First World War, only few pacifists  clearly saw how deep  was the black hole in front of them. We could here only remember the famous and historical brave stand taken by Jean Jaurès at the French National Assembly: he was among of a very few group stating that “Armenians have to be saved” and, if not, all of us would have suffered the consequences in our souls and in this way we would have shaped our future. And that’s was what happened. Jean Jaurès was assassinated on 31st July 1914, the day before of the general mobilisation that  break out  the First World War.

Europe was marked by the tragedy of Armenians for not having acted and for having forgotten a people that had an important role in the European history. So they were mostly eliminated from their land, becoming people that mainly lived and live in the diaspora spread throughout the world. The State called nowadays Armenia represents just a small part of what the land inhabited by a majority of Armenians was before – which obviously included part of the modern Turkey, as well as Syria, and in particular in the area of Aleppo, sadly famous in these last days.

The conflict and the instability of Southern Caucasus, that sees the opposition between Armenia and Azerbaijan for the land of Nagorno Karaback, has also its roots in this history, which – through violence – laid the foundations for further conflicts.

This land, between Europe and Asia –  in the Soviet Union until 1990 – is a junction point that continuously vibrates. Furthermore it is located in a strategic area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the  ground of which is full of petrol. It is located south of Russia, being consequently included in that area influenced by the overall logic “with me or against me”. Challenges  are faced and happen at the same time and some of them are the results of those facts happened a century ago.

Today, a warning for us all – and in the ongoing construction of Europe – it’s represented by the necessity of being able  to admit  and valorise differences. Each minority has to be considered and respected, also knowing that one day we may be – as a minority – in a bigger group that points us as “the different”. Rights and respect of diversity is at the very root of the post-war European construction. Without this value, Europe would not have made progress, becoming what it is today. We must not succumb to the one minute information and therefore, accepting of having a short-term memory. We must remember and build a peaceful Europe with a common and shared future, based on the values of respect of human rights, minorities and differences.

ALDA works in Gyumri, in northern Armenia, supported by the Friuli Venezia-Giulia Region (Italy) and the Rhone-Alpes Region (France). Several associations from the Shirak Region (Northern Armenia) collaborate with us. Since 2011 we develop projects to support the local community with the European partnership.

Read more on Local Democracy Agency Armenia

Antonella VALMORBIDA,
Glavni tajnik ALDA - Europskog udruženja za lokalnu demokraciju
www.alda-europe.eu