Sargsyan addresses Syria conflict on Mideast visit

Armenia is very concerned about the situation in Syria and the fate of thousands of ethnic Armenians who live there, said President Serzh Sargsyan during his official visit to Lebanon on Monday.

At a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman, the Armenian leader stressed that the Syrian people once gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of Armenians fleeing massacres in Ottoman Turkey and implied that Armenia could not remain indifferent to the problems in this country.

“Syria’s pain is our pain,” Sargsyan emphasized, according to his press service.

“Armenia has always supported an end to bloodshed. We are against the use of force and violence and not only in Syria. It is impossible to find a durable solution to the conflict without ceasing clashes from all sides and without a comprehensive political dialogue that would take into account the interests of all Syrians,” said Sargsyan.

The Armenian leader hailed the mission of the special envoy of the UN secretary general and the League of Arab States aimed at stabilizing the domestic situation and reestablishing peace in Syria.

“We are full of hope that as a result of the implementation of the aforementioned initiative peace will be established in Syria and soon it will become possible there to carry out necessary democratic reforms that will reflect the collective will and willingness of all parts of the Syrian people,” concluded Sargsyan.

Syria is home to an estimated 80,000-strong Armenian community mostly concentrated in Aleppo. Hundreds of Syrian Armenians have taken refuge in Armenia since fighting between government and opposition forces in this Middle Eastern country reached the city last July.

More than four dozen Syrian Armenians in Aleppo and capital Damascus have been reportedly killed since the start of the conflict in March 2011. In the chaos that reigns in Syria, along with other Christian and ethnic minorities, Armenians also frequently become targets of kidnappers. As the rest of Syrians they also have to cope with the social and economic hardships brought on by the armed conflict.

Official Yerevan has provided Armenian refugees from Syria with some legal privileges in the historical homeland, but concerns have been voiced at the political and public levels in Armenia and across its worldwide Diaspora about the future of what has been a well-established Armenian community in Syria.