The Syrian conflict and Armenia’s decision not to leave Syria

The Syrian conflict is one of the main issues of the middle East on the agenda of Armenia’s foreign policy. Developed into a real war, the international crisis has put the official Yerevan faced with a difficult task of choosing the most balanced approach. Today, six years after the beginning of the conflict, it is safe to say that the principled position of Armenia was pragmatic and justified.

Given the need to maintain a high level of political cooperation with Damascus, the protection of the Armenian community of Syria and providing assistance to friendly Arab people, the Armenian President initially decided to maintain a diplomatic representation in Syria. The Armenian Embassy in Syria and the Armenian Consulate in Aleppo has continued its work in the harsh conditions of the war, keeping constant contact with the political leadership of Syria and community-based organizations of the Armenians.

Consulate of Armenia in terms of long-term blockade of Aleppo has become the only existing diplomatic mission. While the entire diplomatic corps left Aleppo, Consulate of Armenia continued to operate in emergency mode. Thus, according to the Supreme Consul of Armenia in Aleppo Tigran Gevorgyan, with the aim of providing necessary assistance to our compatriots the Armenian Consulate was moved to be physically closer to areas populated by Armenians. Moreover, the Consulate provided consular services freelance in Latakia, Tartus, Kessab and other regions of Syria, freeing the Armenians from the complexities of the move in Aleppo on dangerous roads. In addition, the decision of the Armenian government the necessary documents are delivered to the Armenians of Syria, Libya and Iraq immediately.

In addition to maintaining diplomatic missions in Syria, Armenia is trying to have a contribution to international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the suffering people of Syria. In particular, according to the decree of the RA President of Armenia to Syria has sent two planes with humanitarian aid, intended not only for Syrian Armenians but also to assist the friendly people of Syria.

The years also proved the correctness of the position that Armenia occupied in the Syrian conflict. The parties involved in the conflict eventually came to the conclusion that the Syrian crisis will be solved only through an immediate cessation of hostilities and dialogue between all political forces in Syria and the joint fight against terrorism. Meanwhile, Armenia initially in all possible ways keep the high level of relations with Damascus. Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian in 2015-th year, and even earlier, and a parliamentary delegation of Armenia in 2014-th year, visited Syria that have served a specific gesture demonstrating the positions of Armenia and the desire to maintain the level of cooperation with Syria.

2017 for Syria began with positive expectations. The liberation of the city of Aleppo, the establishment of a truce and the efforts to start political dialogue in the end of the year inspired hope that it will be possible to stop the bloodshed, to ease a humanitarian catastrophe and achieve a political settlement of the conflict. The Armenians of Syria has declared 2017 as the year of reconstruction and intend to rebuild the country, working with the Syrian authorities.

The Syrian conflict has been quite a challenge to centuries-old friendship of the Armenian and Syrian peoples, and on the other hand the ability of the Republic of Armenia to develop and implement flexible and principled policy at the same time aimed at protecting our compatriots in different corners of the world. The past years have proved that the decision of Armenia not to leave Syria and the Syrian people, and especially the Armenians of Syria was the best way out of these trials.