Final session under heading “Issues on Preservation of the Armenian Identity” of 6th Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference was held

The issues of Armenians in emergency situations were considered during the fourth session of the 6th Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference under the heading “Issues on Preservation of the Armenian Identity” on September 19. The session was moderated by Deputy of the People’s Council of the Syrian Arab Republic Zhirayr Reyisian. Greeting the guests, Zhirayr Reyisia stated that the Armenian community of Syria is on the path of restoration and reawakening.

His Eminence, Fr. Archbishop Shahan Sarkisian talked about the recovery of the Armenians of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia. “The Syrian-Armenians were also impacted by the Syrian war. They suffered numerous losses and took shelter in Lebanon, Armenia, Europe and even in the USA and Australia. However, after the liberation of Aleppo, many returned and started repairing their homes and workshops,” His Eminence, Fr. Archbishop Shahan Sarkisian stated. He emphasized the fact that the current priorities of the community are improvement of homes, support to small and medium Syrian-Armenian businessmen, as well as renovation and reopening of Armenian churches and educational institutions.

During the session, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia, head of the task force in charge of coordinating the activities for Syrian-Armenians Firdus Zakaryan gave a speech devoted to the support that is being provided to the Syrian-Armenians having taken shelter in the Republic of Armenia. Zakaryan highlighted the fact that the problems of the Syrian-Armenians have always been and still are in the focus of the President of the Republic of Armenia, the government and all government agencies and that a task force coordinating the activities for Syrian-Armenians, a Center for Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues, sector-specific task forces and an inter-agency commission on coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ issues have been set up to solve the Syrian-Armenians’ issues.

“Armenia has already granted citizenship to 19,500 Syrian-Armenians, and 2,300 Syrian-Armenians have residency statuses. Between 2012 and 2017, over 3,500 Syrian-Armenians have addressed the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia with the issue of employment, and more than 3,300 have addressed the Ministry with issues related to education. The Ministry has hosted meetings of Syrian-Armenian businessmen with the President of the Republic of Armenia, the Prime Minister, the heads of various public administration bodies and Diaspora Armenian businessmen,” Firdus Zakaryan stated.

Afterwards, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church in Damascus, His Grace, Fr. Bishop Armash Nalbandian gave a speech entitled “The Future of Syrian-Armenians Under the Light of the Current Challenges”. Talking about the recovery of the Syrian-Armenians, he particularly mentioned the following: “Recovery is within Syria and beyond Syria. Recovery within Syria means the recovery of the community and individuals. Every Syrian-Armenian needs moral and material support, whether they are in Syria or in Armenia or other countries.”

Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Catholic Church in Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Eastern Europe, His Grace, Fr. Archbishop Raphael Minassian talked about identifying the key issues of Armenians in emergency situations, the partnership for resolution of those issues and ensuring the Armenia-Diaspora unity. In his speech, Archbishop Raphael Minassian also touched upon the path of the Armenians who found themselves in emergency situations caused by the wars in Lebanon and Iraq. “Unlike other sons of the Armenian nation, the Syrian-Armenians managed to settle in the Mother Homeland more easily,” Archbishop Raphael Minassian stated.

Afterwards, Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America Zaven Khanjian gave a speech entitled “The Enigma of the Diaspora in Emergency Situations”. In his speech, he emphasized the fact that every Syrian-Armenian needs to be aware of the fact that a safe, hospitable and free Armenia awaits him or her.

President of AGBU Armenia, member of the AGBU Central Board Vasken Yacoubian touched upon the AGBU’s programs for support to Syrian-Armenians and the future actions in Armenia. He expressed special gratitude to Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan for her great contributions to the solutions to the key issues of Syrian-Armenians. “The AGBU will always stand by the side of the Syrian-Armenians in Armenia, Syria or other countries.”

The final speech was by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to Syria Arshak Poladyan and was entitled “The State of the Syrian-Armenian Community During the Years of the Syrian Crisis (2011-2017)”. “Since the first day of the crisis, we have worked day and night. Our doors are always open for every Syrian-Armenian. The representative group of diplomats continues its efforts. Armenia has done and is doing everything it can on its part,” Arshak Poladyan stated.

The session continued in a question-and-answer format.

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