By Emil Danielyan
Echoing statements by the opposition, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Friday urged official Yerevan to join in international efforts to stop the Russian-Georgian conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The party’s governing Bureau warned that continued chaos in “friendly” Georgia and deepening tensions between Russia and the West would seriously hurt Armenia.
“We hope that after the dramatic confrontations both the conflicting parties and the international community will find ways of pacifying the region and settling existing problems by civilized means,” it said in a statement. “Armenia can and should join in those efforts.”
Armenia has kept a very low profile in the crisis in a country that serves as its main conduit to the outside world. President Serzh Sarkisian called for its peaceful settlement and offered condolences to his Russian and Georgian counterparts only after returning from a week-long vacation in China late Wednesday.
Sarkisian’s refusal to cut short his summer holiday has been strongly criticized by the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). In a Wednesday statement, the HAK came up with a list of Georgia-related measures which it believes need to be taken urgently. It said Yerevan should, among other things, voice support for international mediation efforts, facilitate the evacuation of foreigners via Armenian territory, send humanitarian aid to Georgia and provide medical assistance to civilian victims of the fighting.
Sarkisian appears to have done just that at a Thursday meeting of Armenia’s National Security Council. In particular, he welcomed “constructive initiatives aimed at establishing peace and stability in the region” and ordered immigration authorities to ease visa requirements for foreigners fleeing Georgia.
According to the Armenian embassy in Tbilisi, as many 18,000 have been evacuated to Armenia since the August 8 outbreak of large-scale fighting in South Ossetia. Less than half of them are Armenian citizens.
(EPA photo: Russian soldiers take positions to block the way of a convoy of Georgian soldiers to the Georgian town of Gori on August 14.)