Armenia must not encourage a mass out-migration of ethnic Armenians from Syria and thereby eliminate a key Diaspora community in the Middle East, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Wednesday.
“People willing to come here must be helped, but we must not initiate their relocation,” said Giro Manoyan, the foreign policy spokesman for the opposition party which is particularly influential in Armenian communities abroad and Syria in particular.
“Our approach is as follows: the community must stay on in Syria … and we must come out of all this with minimal losses,” Manoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Breaking up a community is relatively easy but organizing a community is very difficult. In these conditions keeping an organized community is much easier, even with all the difficulties involved, than creating an atmosphere of panic and making accusations.”
Manoyan voiced Dashnaktsutyun’s position amid growing domestic calls for Armenia’s government to do more to help tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians increasingly endangered by the violent unrest in Syria. The national airline, Armavia, is also under fire for flying to Syria only once a week and allegedly apparently its ticket prices.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), another major opposition group, last week demanded that the government end Armavia’s “shameless” policy and, if necessary, help to airlift Syrian Armenians to Armenia free of charge.
Manoyan said that while Dashnaktsutyun accepts the need for more such flights it believes that the Armenian government should tread carefully to avoid creating “panic” among Syrian Armenians. He insisted that the latter have no intention to flee Syria en masse and that Yerevan will be unable to evacuate all of them in any case.
“Assume that we bring in 10,000 people and give them homes here,” said Manoyan. “What about the others? There are more than 100,000 Armenians in Syria.”
“We are not encouraging them to leave their homes and move abroad,” he said. Dashnaktsutyun is instead working with various Syrian “political circles” to ensure the security of the local Armenian community, he added.
The Dashnaktsutyun chapter in Syria has for decades been the most influential community organization.