Consul General of Armenia in Aleppo:
THE WORLD

Consul General of Armenia in Aleppo:

“We have no other option but to be optimists”

In October, a convoy of humanitarian aid from Armenia reached Aleppo, which has been in the spotlight of intense military operations. Regional Post talked to Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Aleppo, Tigran Gevorgyan about the importance and the difficulties of this occasion.

Text : Artavazd Yeghiazaryan

 


Mr. Gevorgyan, tell us about the process of sending aid, taking into consideration the complicated situation in Aleppo. Did you manage to organize everything as scheduled?

Much has been said in regards to sending humanitarian aid to Syria after the President announced his decision. I have delivered a number of speeches and have given interviews on this issue, but now, for the first time I will talk about the difficulties we experienced whilst sending humanitarian aid to Aleppo. First of all, let me state that everything was implemented at a high-level.
We were well aware of the risks we took, while sending the humanitarian aid, especially the risk to our personal safety. Let me remind you that the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia is the only diplomatic representation currently operating in Aleppo. The others are no longer functioning in Aleppo because of security reasons. So, I will not be exaggerating, if I say that we renewed the message of the Motherland to Syrian Armenians by sending aid. The message reads that we support our compatriots; we are not indifferent to what is going on in Syria, especially in Aleppo.
Our main concern about delivering the aid was transferring it to Aleppo from the Russian airbase Hmeymim in Latakia. The road from Latakia to Aleppo passes through destroyed towns, villages, and settlements. In many places, the road is only a few kilometers away from armed terrorist groups, there are also many cases of road bombings, kidnapping and snipers targeting civilian cars.
So, it was necessary to outline a detailed project plan. The successful transfer of humanitarian aid was made possible due to the support of Russian soldiers, who provided military trucks and accompanied the convoy to Aleppo. The humanitarian aid was transferred to the civilian trucks carrying Armenian tricolor flags from the military trucks near the entrance of the city. After that, the convoy moved to Villas, the Armenian populated districts of Aleppo.
The crowd of civilians, as well as the leaders of Armenian religious and community organizations gathered in front of St Mary Armenian Apostolic Church and applauded when the humanitarian aid sent from the Republic of Armenia reached the final destination. Of course, that was such an exciting moment.

What was the reaction of Armenians living in Aleppo?

The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. The Armenians in Aleppo were certain about the fact that this was not just material aid. This is evidence of the considerable attention Armenia gives to Armenians in Aleppo and also Syrians. This gave a new meaning and made a positive impact on the city, to the Armenians living in gloomy Aleppo experiencing the military situation, who started to believe in a better future.


In general, what expectations do they have from Armenia?

Armenia has always done its best to support compatriots who want to return to their homeland. The Republic of Armenia covers the expenses related to transfer and accommodation, as well as providing financial assistance, some benefits within the framework of receiving education, health insurance, or starting a business, etc. That is why many of our compatriots see Armenia as a location for their permanent residence, even after the ceasefire.

Do you plan to send humanitarian aid to Aleppo again?

First of all, I would like to emphasize that this is not the first time that Armenia has sent humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by war. In 2012, our country delivered humanitarian aid by aircraft to Syria three times. Sending humanitarian aid to Armenians in Aleppo is a priority for the Republic of Armenia. Currently we are discussing implementing a number of projects, supporting Armenians in Aleppo. And we will definitely inform everyone about that after the implementation.

Mr. Gevorgyan, how do you define the status of Armenians in Aleppo? Do you see a chance for a ceasefire in the near future?

For the past seven years I have been on a diplomatic mission in Syria. First of all, I was on a mission in Damascus and for the recent three years I have been the Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Aleppo. I cannot recall even a day, where I have noticed a glimpse of despair among the local Armenians. No hardship could have taken away the belief in a peaceful future for the Armenians. Our compatriots have never stopped smiling, even in the most difficult conditions.
Of course, one day the conflict will end. Nothing lasts forever and we hope a peaceful solution is not far away. We really hope, because we have no other option, but to be optimists and to continue our activity to bring about a peaceful solution.