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I expect only the truth ahead of Genocide centennial - Peter Koutoujia


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#1 Yervant1

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Posted 21 September 2014 - 08:57 AM

I expect only the truth ahead of Genocide centennial - Peter Koutoujian

12:49 * 20.09.14


Tert.am has interviewed Peter Koutoujian, the current Sheriff of
Middlesex County (Massachusetts), who is considered an influential
figure in the United States with a poltiical career spanning over 25
years. The politician, who considers himself 100% Armenian and 100%
Irish, says he is now working on a project for young
American-Armenians to get them involved public services and politics
in an effort affect pro-Armenian changes across the United States.

Mr Koutoujian, Armenia is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the
Genocide next year. As a person who is well-aware of, and directly
involved in, the US politics, do you think that President Barack Obama
will use the word "genocide" in its true legal meaning in 2015?

It's my great hope that he does use the word "genocide" this year. I
know that as a candidate for president of the United States, he said
that he would use the word 'genocide'. I know that George Bush Junior
said that he would use genocide, and so did Bill Clinton.

And what measures do you think we have to undertake - both here in
Armenia and the Diaspora - to make our expectations come true. I mean
both with regard to the Genocide centennial and the recognition of
Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh)?

I think it's going to take many more things than just a relationship
between the countries and the people. I think there are going to be
other things in world politics that will probably need to happen,
because the issue of recognition - as we have got a referendum in
Scotland to separate and there are numerous other votes on separation
right now - they are not just unique with Artsakh but in many other
situations. Countries like Artsakh are looking for recognition as an
independent nation.

Do you agree that processes aimed at the recognition of the
self-determination right are gaining a wide momentum around the world,
and it is becoming in a way a unique opportunity for Nagorno-Karabakh
in terms of achieving an international recognition?

Yes. I think that America took its own right to self determination in
its own hands and recognized the right of other countries to
self-determination. I think, unfortunately, it falls within the bounds
of many of much geopolitics, and that's where our efforts to recognize
Artsakh as a nation are more limited despite the actions of many
people.

And the same question regarding the Armenian Genocide. What do the
Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora have to do to make their
expectations realistic ahead of the centennial?

We need to organize; we need to speak with one loud voice. In the
United States, I know there are many groups looking to organize
themselves, and I see this effort to organize in Washington DC which
will, I think, be a significant movement. But we need, as an
ethnicity, as a group, as Armenian-Americans in my country, to speak
with one loud voice and make sure that our impact is heard

As an influential political figure in the US political establishment,
what expectations do you have from the United States ahead of 1915?

I expect only the truth, and that's the recognition of the Genocide by
the United States. I don't necessarily expect that the US will do so,
sadly, based upon the history of the failure. But that's my
expectation. My expectation is that the US will do nothing but
recognize the truth.

Do you expect visits on the level of high-ranking officials?

Yes, I expect that this year we'll bring every weapon out of our
arsenal in order to convince Congress and the president that we need
to recognize the Genocide.

Our former prime minister, Tigran Sargsyan, is Armenia's ambassador to
the United States. What expectations do you have in that connection?
Do you think it will contribute to the passage of pro-Armenian
measures on the level of the US Government?

I believe so. I met him when he was a prime minister a number of years
ago; I was immediately impressed with his intellect and his passion
and his vision. As I appreciate his vision for Armenia, I know that he
will have an excellent vision for the US-Armenia relations. I think
it's a good sign that in the first week or two of his job, he was
invited to visit the White House and the President of the United
States. I think it was a good sign for the country and in our
relations.

US-Armenian band-musician Serj-Tankian has composed the musical
symphony, 100 Years, dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. It is going
to be premiered in California. Do you think that such joint efforts by
celebrated Diaspora-Armenian cultural figures can contribute to the
Genocide recognition efforts?

I do, because anyway you can reach out to different communities and
connect with different communities - whether they be political,
historic, cultural, educational - whatever these opportunities are. I
think it will strengthen our ability and unify our visions to achieve
recognition.

To the best of my knowledge, you consider yourself a 100% Armenian and
100% Irish. Has you being an Armenian been of help to you or on the
contrary, it has been an obstacle in your career?

I think that everything that makes me an Armenian is a help. I think
that perhaps the genetic design, the DNA that we all have as being
[Genocide] survivors has made me a survivor even in modern-day
America, and [it has given me] perseverance and strength. I was raised
through Armenian schools, Saturday schools for language and high
school for language, but I really reconnected with Armenians when I
became elected to office. And I didn't do it because I had Armenians
in my district - my district had very few Armenians - I did it because
I knew that I was in a special place that I could impact issues
affecting Armenians and Armenian-Americans. And I knew that at every
moment I was the reflection of my people. not just my family, but my
entire people, my Armenian family, and that every day I needed to make
sure that I did the right thing, I worked hard and that I reflected
well not only upon myself, not only upon my family but also upon
Armenians - both in America and worldwide.

When you were represented in the state legislature, what problems did
you try to resolve to help Armenia? And did you collaborate with
lobbyist groups?

When I was first elected, each year I planned and participated in the
Armenian Genocide commemoration at the State House in Boston. That was
started by the former Armenian-American speaker, George Gavarian. When
he left, there were no Armenians to run that commemoration ceremony,
which was very rich as part of our community's heritage. And so I was
able to take that over; I was able to speak about issues when they
came up - about the legislature, about the Genocide (Armenian and
other genocides). I was able to speak about the self-determination
issues, including Artsakh, and I was able to speak in a way that no
one else could - about peoples like Armenians. And I was able then to
use that influence on a more national level.

We built an Armenian heritage park in Boston. I don't know if you have
ever seen it, but you might want to go and get a picture. It's a very
beautiful park we built for about 6 million Dollars. And probably, my
greatest legacy, as a public official, in my entire career will have
been the Armenian Heritage Park. We started on a major project - we
had a central artery that ran above the grounds through the small
city. It was terribly ugly, and the government took it and put it
under the ground, under the tunnel in a big dig. And when we did it, a
few of us decided that we should try to put together an Armenian
Genocide memorial on this park way, which was a prime real estate in
Boston at that time. So this was a dream that I had. There were fights
within the community about what it should look like and how it should
progress. And then everyone left the project, and there was just me
left alone. And at the time there were major benefactors - there was
the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, there was the YMCA, many major
organizations and many communities - the Greece and Jewish
communities, the Italian community, the Hungarian community - many
communities that wanted to participate and to get a piece of this land
for some type of memorial. And despite the fact that everyone had a
fight and left the project, I continued to persevere. I think this is
part of the Armenian DNA that I couldn't just let it go.

And when we celebrated the opening of the Armenian Heritage park, when
we had our groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting grand opening, they were
the very best days of the Armenian-Americans in Boston. Because
whenever we gather, it's always about the Genocide; it's a sad
occasion, important but very sad. It's a recognition, but this is a
celebration, and it really represents all that we've gone through in
breaking apart and coming to America and recreating ourselves in a
fashion that is portrayed so beautifully right there in the center of
Boston.

Well, you are really a very busy person. Have you ever thought about
any project for the Armenians in the US?

Yes, I am thinking about a project to start in America right now, with
Armenians. I want to create the rebirth of Armenians politically, and
so I want to begin a program to get young people involved in public
services and politics and know how to work in electoral office in
order to affect changes. Because while Armenians are not largely on
the outside, we don't have as much influence as we should. So think
about a football game - unless you are actually in the field, you
can't directly influence the outcome of that game. And that's why we
need more Armenian-Americans in the public sector, so we can then have
the influence that we need in order to achieve many of these goals.


http://www.tert.am/e...peter-kutujyan/
 






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