At the press conference entitled “Europe: 100 Years after World War I” the ambassadors spoke on the series of commemoration events marking the 100th anniversary of WWI to be held in Armenian from October 31 to December 5.
At the outbreak of World War I on August 1, 1914, almost everyone “thought the war to be over by Christmas which actually lasted four years and cost 16 million lives,” said the British Ambassador, recalling estimated 16 million victims of the First World War out of whom nine million were militaries, seven million were common citizens amongst whom one and half million were Ottoman Armenians, “the largest single civilian tragedy of the First World War.” The Ambassador noted that Europe endorses the efforts to reconcile the Armenian-Turkish relations and that they are happy to have the Armenian-Turkish Protocols sighed in 2009 owing to the efforts of Europe. “All of us share the wish that in the centenary year of 2015, a very symbolic year for all Armenians, there can be some kind of step forward in the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.”
Through the joint events to mark the 100th anniversary of WWI, Reiner Morell believes, Europe seeks to show that there is a possibility to put an end to hostilities and overcome them.
“History shows that there are successful examples of overcoming lasting hostilities. History comes to prove that it’s necessary to apologize,” he said and voiced hope that Turkey would think about this in 2015, on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. “Public sentiments in Turkey allow us to hope for this,” Ambassador Morell said.
Speaking on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict Katherine Leach said that “the annexation of Crimea” sparked the conflict and it is well-documented that Russia supported Donbas separatists. “We call on Russia to fulfill its side of the Minsk Agreement and observe the ceasefire. Ukraine is a sovereign country that should have the right to choose its own path.”
Responding to the question about Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement that Russia intends to recognize the results of the recent elections held in self-proclaimed states of Donetsk and Lugansk, the German Ambassador said, “it is necessary to profoundly study the details to avoid any kind of misinterpretation.”
In this respect, the British Ambassador said, “Just because the vote is taken, it does not mean it is valid. You can’t organize a voting in two weeks in Crimea and call it a democratic one. I am very sorry that our Russian colleagues have taken the view that the vote organized by separatists in such circumstances has legitimacy.”