Time in Yerevan: 11:07,   23 April 2024

Syrian Ambassador calls for international actions to restrain Azerbaijan and Turkey's ambitions towards Armenia

Syrian Ambassador calls for international actions to restrain Azerbaijan and Turkey's 
ambitions towards Armenia

YEREVAN, MARCH 12, ARMENPRESS.  Ambassador Imad Moustapha, Director of the Diplomatic Institute of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Syrian Ambassador to the USA and China, believes that the international community should utilize all possible means to restrain and limit the expansionist ambitions of Azerbaijan and Turkey towards the Armenian people.

 The diplomat is also convinced that without Turkey's intervention and military assistance, the Nagorno-Karabakh tragedy would not have occurred. In an interview with Armenpress, Imad Moustapha discussed the main purpose of his visit to Armenia, regional and security issues, the role of the Armenian community in Syria and other topics.

 - Mr. Ambassador, could you please represent the purpose of your visit?  What agreements have you reached?

Well, the purpose of the visit on a professional level is that I am the Director of the Diplomatic Institute at the Foreign Ministry of Syria. And here in Armenia, you have an excellent school of diplomacy within your foreign ministry. We wanted to establish cooperation between the two institutes. We aimed to sign a memorandum of understanding and establish solid relations between the two institutes. As a beginning, the School of Diplomacy here in Yerevan has invited 12 Syrian diplomats to attend a two-week course in diplomacy. Moreover, we hope to reciprocate by inviting some Armenian diplomats to visit our institute and attend workshops, seminars, and courses. Therefore, on a professional level, this is why I am here in Armenia today. But on a personal level, as you probably know, every Syrian holds Armenia very dear to their heart because of the extraordinary contributions of Syrian Armenians to our country. They excelled in everything they did, and every Armenian in Syria serve as an excellent ambassador of Armenia. Thus, Armenia is highly regarded in Syria. As a Syrian who is not Armenian, I have always dreamed of visiting Armenia to see this beautiful country that has sent us such beautiful, clever, intelligent, hardworking, and honest people.

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-Mr. Ambassador, as a diplomat, how do you assess the current level of Armenian-Syrian cooperation?

- Well, on the one hand, the relations are excellent. The warmth and depth of relations between the two peoples are also reflected in the two governments. So the two governments liaise with each other, cooperate with each other, and consult with each other. Most of our positions are unified towards the same issues. So, this is on one hand. On the other hand, I am not satisfied with just this level. I want to see them much, much stronger because of what I described to you as the depth of relations between the people of Syria and the people of Armenia.

 - In your opinion, what common interests do Armenia and Syria have and in what areas do you see prospects for cooperation?

 -Well, you need to remember that we have had shared history throughout the history of the nation of Armenia and the history of Syria. We always had relations and engagements. Probably you know this or not, at one point in our history, Tigran the Great was also a king of Syria. Damascus and Aleppo were parts of the great kingdom under Tigran the Great. But also in many other epochs of history we had very strong bonds, ties and exchanges. We also had a sad history of suffering because of what the Turks—Turkey—did to the Armenians during the Genocide, as well as before and after it, and also due to what Turkey did to Syria. Thus, we share common pain, a history, and common aspirations for a better future for our region and our people.

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- Your Excellency, as you know, Armenia is facing challenges today. As you know, many Armenians have been displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia as a result of Azerbaijani's attack. The territorial integrity of Armenia has been violated. Armenia strives for peace. However, as you know, it has been a long time since a peace agreement with Azerbaijan has not been reached. So, as a person well-versed in Syrian diplomacy, what role Syria can play in this regard and what is Syria's position in this matter generally?

-First, Syria fully supports the Armenian position on Nagorno-Karabakh. Syria, as you know, has recognized the Armenian Genocide officially. Our parliament issued a decree realizing and accepting the fact that a genocide was committed against the Armenian people. And this is why we are particularly sensitive when we see any developments today that are also hurting the Armenian people and causing another exodus, another diaspora from Nagorno-Karabakh to elsewhere, mainly to Armenia. This makes us very, very distressed. We feel great compassion towards the Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh and we condemn what has happened to them. I have to admit that we can do very little on this aspect to help because we believe that without the intervention and the military aid of Turkey, the new tragedy of Nagorno-Karabakh would not have happened. And Turkey does the same today to Syria. They interfere in Syria and they support the terrorist groups in Syria. They protect them. And today we also in Syria are suffering because of the Turkish acts.

-  And what is Syria's position on the violation of Armenian territorial integrity?

 - We absolutely support the Armenian position. We believe that it is the right and the duty of the Armenian people to preserve their territorial integrity. It's their right and their duty.

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- And what can Syria do in this regard?

- Once again, we can only provide political and diplomatic support. We cannot go beyond this. However, this support is important in international meetings, at the United Nations and in any regional or multinational forum.

 - In your opinion, what should the international community do to prevent a new war against Armenia?

- I believe the international community should utilize every possible means to restrain and limit the expansionist ambitions of Turkey and Azerbaijan towards the Armenian people.

 - Mr. Ambassador, I would also like to discuss the role of Turkey in the region, if you don't mind.

- Well, you are likely more familiar with Turkey's role towards Armenia presently and throughout your history than I am. However, I can tell you that Turkey has done almost exactly the same things to us in Syria. It has also acted similarly towards Cyprus and Greece. Turkey has been very hostile and very harmful to its neighbors.

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 - Your Excellency, what role does the Armenian community have in Syria, and what impact have they had?

- The Armenian community in Syria is renowned for its excellence in every endeavor. We in Syria are very proud for having a significant Armenian community. If you were to visit Syria, you might imagine that we have millions of Armenians, though this is not the case. Due to their exceptional abilities and the high regard in which they are held by all other sectors of Syrian society, you might perceive Armenians to be a much larger population than they are in reality. Their impact is truly in their quality rather than sheer numbers.

 When the Armenians arrived in Syria after the genocide, they were hungry, poor, afraid, and weak. Many of them were orphans or widows, lacking proper clothes and facing persecution. It was a terrible chapter in their lives. However, upon their arrival in Aleppo, and throughout Syria in general, the people treated them with great hospitality, welcoming them and sharing their water and bread. In a short period of time, this Armenian community settled down, felt safe, and began working hard. They flourished and prospered, giving back to Syria more than they received upon their arrival. We look at this and recognize that the little good we did for the Armenians was met with far greater good in return. Today, we are very proud of the Armenian presence in Syria because they enrich our lives.

 - As I know, this is your first visit to Armenia. What impressions have you gathered from your time here?

 - Upon my arrival at Yerevan airport, Her Excellency, the Ambassador who greeted me, immediately took me to the Museum of the Genocide before proceeding to my hotel. I spent two hours there and felt deep sorrow for what I witnessed. However, I also felt pride because we stood with the Armenian nation during their difficult times, and today, Armenia is experiencing a remarkable revival. Today, I visited the holy shrines and experienced strong emotions. I told myself that this nation is indestructible.

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 -Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Would you like to add anything?

 - No, I just want to emphasize that while I represent the Syrian government as an ambassador, my words also reflect emotions of a Syrian citizen, not solely political comments and views. This is genuinely from the heart of a Syrian individual.

 Interview by Anna Grigoryan

 Photos by Hayk Manukyan








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