Armenian Azeri and Turk Delegations Clash at Youth Festival

BARCELONA–The 3rd World Youth Festival is currently underway in Barcelona–Spain with the participation of 10,000 young people from around the world.

The Festival–the only event completely designed by and for youth organizations from all over the world–provides a unique opportunity for regional youth platforms and organizations from all over the world to share ideas and projects.

The ARF Youth delegation is participating as well–with two representatives from Lebanon’s Zavarian Student Association. Aware of the festival’s purpose and confident that today’s youth will work together to bring about new perspectives and justice on various issues–the ARF Youth delegation used their designated poster board to inform the festival participants about the Armenian genocide. The Turkish and Azeri delegation angrily demanded that the pictures and information on the genocide be removed from the poster board; however–the ARF Youth delegation refused–resulting in commotion.

The festival’s organizing committee–composed of various international youth organizations including the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) of which the ARF Youth is a member of–devoted a considerable amount of time to the situation during their August 10 meeting. The IUSY representative supported the Armenian delegation and their work during the meeting–describing it as a basic human right to express their views and opinions.

The end result was that the Azeri and Turk demand would not be met as doing so would defeat the purpose of the festival.

In response to the decision–and in addition to appealing to their embassies to mediate the situation–the Azeri and Turk delegates prepared their own display boards and placed them next to the ARF Youth’s poster board as a sign of protest.

The ARF Bureau Youth office officially appealed to the festival’s organizing committee stating–"The ARF Youth is confident that participating in the World Youth Festival would provide a unique platform to be ‘seen and heard’ as stated in the festival’s goals…the latest developmen’s–however–show otherwise–as certain groups or delegations try to pressure our representatives from being ‘seen and heard.’"

Referring to the latest statemen’s by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry asserting that "in 25-30 years’ times its territory will again come under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction," as well as the killing of an Armenian officer by an Azeri during a NATO Partnership for Peace program in Budapest–the ARF Bureau Youth Office demanded that the organizing committee guarantee the safety of the Armenian youth delegation.

The ARF Bureau Youth Office expressed gratitude to the IUSY representative for being resolute on the issue and supporting the Armenian youth.

As of August 11–the situation remained calm as the ARF Youth representatives carries on its work without any hindrances.

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