Armenia Concerned by Refugee Crisis Development says UN Rep.

Armenia's Permanent Representative to the UN Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in 2016 (Photo: mfa.am)
Armenia's Permanent Representative to the UN Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in 2016 (Photo: mfa.am)

Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in 2016 (Photo: mfa.am)

NEW YORK—Armenia’s Permanent Representative of the United Nations (UN) Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan on Tuesday participated in a UN high level dialogue entitled “Building Sustainable Peace for All,” and presented concerns regarding the thousands of Syrian Armenians who have sought refuge in Armenia.

“In last few years, over 20,000 displaced persons have sought protection in Armenia making our country the third largest recipient of Syrian refugees per capita in Europe,” Mnatskanyan said. “This new influx adds to existing challenges faced by Armenia, already hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as another wave of displacement not so long ago from Iraq.”

Mnatskanyan stated in his remarks that the United Nations and its member states have worked to achieve “a reasonable conceptual consensus that conflict situations are detectable at a considerably early phase.”

The Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic conflict was also mentioned in his speech, saying that Armenia welcomes the UN’s support of the peaceful resolution of the conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. “This format by far is the most effective one for our particular case on several accounts,” he said, “not least due to its capacity to sustain focus on a compromise solution, to defuse tensions and to prevent escalation.”

The full text of Ambassador Mnatsakanyan’s speech can be read below.

“Mr. President,

I would like to join other delegates and extend words of appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for convening this high-level dialogue. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set out an ambitious plan of action to benefit millions of people towards a better and more sustainable future in the years ahead.

By adopting the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community has reaffirmed the inter-linkages between development and peace, good governance, human rights and rule of law. Yet, in the midst of turbulence in so many parts of the world, Goal 16 still remains brittle and without much weight to it.

Protracted emergencies, the rise of violent extremism, unresolved and active conflicts consume significant resources and considerably strain international efforts to promote the global agenda, including within the UN system. The adaptability of the system is a matter of priority and requires collective response against the backdrop of a detrimental decrease resources and the unprecedented rise of humanitarian challenges.

The global displacement crisis continues to pose a large number of risks and instabilities, which require a collective response on a global level, including through better cooperation in areas such as border management, migration and fight against trafficking. Armenia is deeply concerned and is closely following the ongoing refugee crisis developments. In last few years, over 20000 displaced persons have sought protection in Armenia making our country the third largest recipient of Syrian refugees per capita in Europe. This new influx adds to existing challenges faced by Armenia, already hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as another wave of displacement not so long ago from Iraq.

The Government of Armenia continues to implement facilitated integration and settlement programs for the displaced people, and, in this regard, it is important to give due acknowledgements to the invaluable role of international institutions, non-governmental sector and Diaspora organizations for having supported our country in alleviating the needs of refugees over years. In Armenia, we have been privileged to work with a vibrant and ever-stronger civil society, which is an integral part of our public life, and we see merit in continuously supporting the efforts of the civil society, also on a global level, as an important contribution to humanitarian and development response.

As a consistent supporter and promoter of the concept and practice of prevention, Armenia particularly welcomes the focus on the early action to prevent situations, which, if not addressed, result in conflicts, crises and, not least, atrocity crimes. To improve the quality of response, it remains a priority for the UN system to advance its normative and operational capacity aimed at strengthening and adapting its prevention function and build greater resilience. We believe over years the UN and its member states have achieved a reasonable conceptual consensus that conflict situations are detectable at a considerably early phase, because conflicts are more often than not a reaction to persistent injustice, discrimination and denial of rights, which forcefully represent root causes of a conflict. We speak from experience.

Armenia also believes in the efficiency of regional mechanisms and we think it will be critical to sustain focus on the role that can be played by the regional and sub-regional organizations in promoting the synergies between peace and sustainable development. These often have a better understanding of local circumstances, tailored approaches and effective tools, as well as own resources and financing. Coherence, coordination and non-duplication of efforts and activities are the building blocks of effective utilization of the capacity of regional organizations in conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

In our national context, Armenia welcomes the unwavering and continued support of the UN system and the Secretary General to the internationally agreed format of negotiations for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. This format by far is the most effective one for our particular case on several accounts, not least due to its capacity to sustain focus on a compromise solution, to defuse tensions and to prevent escalation. Consolidated support to these negotiations by the international community, including this body and the UN Secretary General is critical in deflecting attempts to pursue mediation shopping and lopsided, often highly biased interpretations of the causes and consequences of the conflict.

Mr. President,

We have also consistently promoted and supported regional and sub-regional co-operation, including on environmental issues. Such co-operation is a basis not only for addressing and advancing mutual interests between neighboring nations, but also represents an important confidence building measure in situations of unresolved conflicts. We underline the potential of such co-operation in the broader context of promoting regional peace and security as well as economic growth.

Discussions on the 2030 Agenda should focus on the most effective ways of bringing change at the local level, including through an improved and consolidated field presence and flexibility that allows for country-specific needs. Careful adaptation of the new global development agenda to a national context is an important priority, whereby enhancing the potential to implement new schemes and solutions will be critical to meet the ambitious agenda we have embarked upon.

In conclusion, Mr. President, the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs reaffirm that, despite a decrease of extreme poverty levels around the globe, inequalities continue to grow, while external resources for development co-operation are decreasing. This is particularly important and relevant as far as the needs and challenges of the middle-income countries are concerned. The MICs have the potential to nurture more complex institutions, yet, still need longer time and more focused efforts to do it without help. Armenia remains committed to strengthening support and deepening regional and global partnership to advance the objectives of sustainable peace and prosperous future.

I thank you, Mr. President.”

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