Refugees Still Refuse to Acquire Armenian Citizenship

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Different approaches to the settlement of refugee problems on the basis of the current legislation were subject for discussion at the seminar of the working group for legislation–Conference for CIS Member-Countries–held under the UNHCR auspices. The curator of the seminar was the Danish Committee for Refugee Affairs.

Talking to Noyan Tapan–Director of the Armenian Sakharov Fund for Human Rights Levon Nersissian said that besides NGO representatives–participating in the seminar were representatives of the government structures that directly encounter refugee problems.

Nersissian pointed out that in Azerbaijan–legislation dealing with refugees is better than in Armenia. Thus–the refugee status was granted to all deported Azerbaijanis. Conditions were created for their social rehabilitation including exemption from a number of taxes and granting of non-interest credits. Favorable conditions were created for the naturalization of refugees.

Nersissian also expressed the opinion that the reason for refugees refusing to acquire Armenian citizenship is that the refugee status allows them to be protected by international organizations like the UNHCR. Citizens’ rights are stipulated by laws–but are not realized in practice. The Armenian government has not yet provided guarantees of rights to refugees that acquire citizenship.

Nersissian reported that the seminar participants succeeded in avoiding the politicization of the issue of refugees from Chechnya. Being supported by Chairwoman of the Russian Memorial Society Svetlana Ganushkina–the representatives of Georgian NGOs suggested giving a political assessment of the refugee situation in Chechnya–but the seminar participants decided to focus their attention on the humanitarian aspect of the problem.

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