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November 10, 2010
Ottawa--Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia's first minister of foreign affairs and current chairman of the Heritage Party, was on Parliament Hill to address the Ottawa Conference on Combating Antisemitism. Convened by the Government of Canada and the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism between November 7 and 9, the international conclave brought together political leaders, scholars, human rights advocates, diplomats and members of parliament from around the world.

Delivering his keynote address to a plenary session on "The Role of Governments and Parliaments in Combating Antisemitism," Raffi Hovannisian underscored the universal connections among all forms of racism, genocide and its denial--from the Holocaust and the scourge of antisemitism to the still-unrequited Armenian Genocide and xenophobia aimed at Armenians and many minority groups across the globe. The lessons to be drawn from the tragedies of history and applied to prevent their recurrence are, he said, that reconciliation with past and present perpetrators can be achieved solely on the basis of accepting and accounting for the terrible truth, and that taking courageous public stands in the political arena, at schools and on campuses, and throughout societies must not be selective or exclusive but rather must target equally all crimes against humanity and all instances of hate speech. Only in this way will the civilized world have a chance to reach the rule not only of law, but also of rights and ethics.

Raffi Hovannisian, who dedicated his speech to the memory of his grandparents who had survived the Genocide and Great Armenian Dispossession nearly a century ago, was provided a further opportunity to expand on the Armenian experience when a Turkish parliamentarian, accompanied by a Turkish Embassy official, attempted to respond to the keynote presentation by reading from an Embassy position paper that relativized and trivialized the Genocide. In a dramatic exchange, Hovannisian concluded the session by saying that it boggles the human mind and borders on surrealism that an international meeting on antisemitism should be bearing direct witness to the specter of active denialism; that his grandmother owed her life to a righteous Turkish family whose story has not been told because of the official Turkish position; that Turkey must follow postwar Germany's example in facing history and taking responsibility for its crimes against humanity; and that hope springs eternal that we will live to see the day when distinguished Turkish delegates present themselves to condemn, not deny all forms of racism including genocide and its denial.

In the margins of the Ottawa conference, Hovannisian met with Canada's head of state, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief David Johnston; Prime Minister Stephen Harper; fellow MP and leader of the Official Opposition Michael Ignatieff; Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Elie Wiesel; and scores of ambassadors resident in the Canadian capital and parliamentary colleagues from all the continents.

Before visiting Canada, Raffi Hovannisian was in Los Angeles to deliver a community lecture, organized by the Armenian General Benevolent Union Asbeds, entitled "Armenia Between East and West: The Challenges of Democracy, Sovereignty and National Interest." He also attended the Armenian Educational Foundation's 60th anniversary celebration during which his father Professor Richard Hovannisian was honored for his pioneering work and a lifetime of public service.

Founded in 2002, Heritage has regional divisions throughout the land. Its central headquarters are located at 31 Moscovian Street, Yerevan 0002, Armenia, with telephone contact at (37410) 53.69.13 and 53.26.97, fax at (37410) 53.26.97, email at,

The Heritage Party
31 Moscovian Street
Yerevan, Armenia
Tel.: (+374 - 10) 53.69.13
Fax: (+374 - 10) 53.26.97


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