Armenia shows Europe how to welcome refugees

11:47, 27 November, 2015

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 27, ARMENPRESS. Armenia, a small country that is relatively poor compared with the rest of Europe, has welcomed the influx of refugees crossing its borders, giving help to those who need it. As “Armenpress” reports, citing, director of European Friends of Armenia Eduardo Lorenzo Ochoa writes the abovementioned in article “Armenia shows Europe how to welcome refugees”.  

As he writes since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, 17,000 Syrians have come to Armenia. Though many of them are of Armenian descent, other persecuted communities, such as the Yazidis and the Assyrians, have also been able to make Armenia their home, albeit temporarily. Armenia has the third most war refugees from Syria in Europe.

Unlike Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan, Armenia has not received any substantial financial assistance from the EU. Nevertheless, the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora publicly insisted that “if refugees decide to come to Armenia, our state must do its best by means of joint efforts with international structures and different Armenian organisations to receive them”.

“The massacres perpetrated by ISIS in Syria and Iraq have reminded Armenians of their own history. Many Syrians who came to Armenia are actually descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and numerous Armenians feel a moral obligation to provide them with a safe haven. This also explains why the Yazidis, who are facing extermination in their ancestral lands, are welcomed with open arms,” Ochoa says, adding that in theory, the member states agree on the defence and promotion of European principles and values, but unfortunately they differ widely in their understanding of what should be put into practice. This has been evident throughout the current war refugee crisis.

Throughout the refugee crisis, Armenia is quietly reminding the world what European values really are. History shows that Europe has been at its best when it has provided shelter for those seeking safety from persecution and destruction. The Armenian approach to the current crisis is a direct continuation of this praiseworthy tradition, and proves that Armenia is fully and undeniably part of the European community of values.

The tragic events in Paris are a direct attack on these very same European values. Ochoa states that this explains why Armenians were quick to gather all across the country to mourn the victims and express solidarity with the people of France. 

 “Charles Aznavour, whose own parents fled to Europe after the Armenian Genocide, said he 'will always take the side of those who knock on doors, not the ones who shut them.' I believe that these words reflect the feeling shared by countless Armenians and other Europeans when they are confronted with images of people fleeing war in an attempt to save their lives. These are the European values which unite us, from the cliffs of Ireland all the way to the mountains of Armenia,” Ochoa concludes. 

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