WHAT TO DO FOR ARMENIANS OF SYRIA
- It is necessary to shift from the public statements on the immigration of Armenians and other Christian nationalities living in Syria to serious actions. The Republic of Armenia is interested in the destiny of Armenian-born citizens of Syria, as well as other Christian nationalities. It is important to launch negotiations on this very delicate issue, sure, if they are not already launched, with the authorities of Syria, Russia, Iran, Western countries and international structures. For comprehensible reasons, Armenia has issued no public statement on the Syrian crisis, underway for more than 2 years. If for now, it could be enough to follow the events, now, the situation suggests such a behavior can harm the prospect of existence of a large part of our compatriots. In other words, further idleness is equal to irresponsibility towards our compatriots and our Christian brothers. Taking into account the demographic moves of Christian groups in the Greater Middle East in the last 30 years, we need to make serious efforts to be able to impact their future moves. So, during the 1975-89 Libyan civil war, we lost a part of the influential Armenian community. Though no census has been carried out since the 30s, it is known that during the war period, more 200 thousand Armenians lived in this country. Today, the number is 60 thousand. In 1979, prior to the Iranian revolution, the number of 300 thousand Armenians, who were forced to move to Iran by Shah Abas in the 17th century, was 240 thousand, in case in 1828, some part of the Iranian Armenians were transferred to the Ararat valley, Vayots Dzor, Armenia, in accord with the Turkmenchay treaty. Today, the number of Armenians in Iran is below 100 thousand. By the way, earlier, in 1950s, after Gamal Abd al-Nasser had come to power in Egypt, more than 50 thousand Armenians emigrated from the country. The current number of the Armenian community of Egypt is about 2000. In the result of emptying of the Armenian communities in the Middle East, the Armenian communities of the Western Europe and the U.S. temporarily strengthened. But if the first groups of the migrants were able to keep the language and other national particularities ensuring the minimal requirements of integration, the following generations got assimilated. In the aforementioned examples, the emigration of Armenians from the Middle East happened during the Soviet period, which is explained by their decision to move towards the West. During the first years of independence of Armenia, their behavior could also be explained, though, many Armenians of Iran returned to Armenia, just like small groups from Syria, Lebanon, Europe and the U.S. Because of the crisis, the first community, which could return to Armenia, was the Armenians of Iraq, around 40 thousand. In 2003, prior to the U.S. invasion to Iraq, some Armenian families had already started seeking asylum in their homeland. The Iraqi citizens were allowed leaving the country exceptionally for Jordan with a permission of living there for a maximum period of 6 months, while from Jordan, their only destination could be Libya. During the war, just like before it, the Armenians of Iraq had the possibility to obtaining a visa for Armenia for a longer period, while, if they wanted, they could also become citizens of Armenia. However, many of Iraqi Armenians who returned to the homeland, left the country for the West. This decision of the Armenian community of Iraq can be understood. The economic, political and social conditions here render the existence impossible for local people, which results in the increasing number of emigration up to threatening the national security, which is not even concealed by the authorities. Anyway, today, the Armenians of Armenia and Syria are facing new challenges. Currently, in a number of cities of Sirya, including Aleppo, Damask, Raqqa, Qameshli, Der Zor, the Armenians live in terrible conditions, which, in case of war, will even worsen. Our compatriots living in different parts of the country have various issues - financial-economic, private and community property, social and cultural. It is necessary to underline that the Armenian community of Iran is multi-layered. So, the Armenian community of the province of Aleppo and in the city of Aleppo, is engaged in commerce and service provision, has the issue of protecting or transporting their property. In the northern and north-eastern Kurdish regions of the country, the Armenians are engaged in agriculture and breeding. In the capital, there is a 5000-community of Armenian intellectuals and workers of community institutions. It is necessary to take into account the aforementioned as well as many other particularities in case of possible mass immigration of Armenians of Syria, including the efforts of the RoA department on refugees and migration, ministries of Diaspora and foreign affairs will not be enough. A national strategy on the immigration of Armenians of Syria should be immediately set up making a law if necessary. It is required to form an inter-agency commission to discuss and clarify the technical, educational, occupation and other issues of the immigrants. The involvement of scientists is also very important. Besides the orientalists, other professionals such as ethnologists, cultural scientists, sociologists, psychologists should be also involved. Another group could be the present and former students of faculties of orientalism of Armenian universities who studied in Syria. Besides, it may be necessary to have education in Arabic. In 2010-11, several thousands of Syrian Armenians received Armenian citizenship in accelerated procedures, which is a necessary but yet insufficient preconditions for accepting out compatriots. If we declare at the highest level the slogan "Come home", we need to make the homeland a home, where our compatriots, who need it, are retuning… Arsen Kharatyan
© AUAToday in Armenian history
- 1752 Battle between the Georgian King Heraklitus the Second and Azad khan's forces near Kanaker (Armenia).
- 1904 Death of Karapet Utujian, the founder of "Massiss" weekly. He was born on 1832 10 24.
- 1993 The Artsakh forces liberate Martakert after the Azeri Turks had occupied it for a year.