Armenia’s in Lebanon Safe for Now, Says Foreign Ministry Official

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)-The safety of Armenian citizens in Lebanon as well as that of the greater Lebanese Armenian Community is secure for the time being, Head of the Middle East Department of Armenian Foreign Ministry Armen Melkonyan told a press conference in Yerevan Thursday.
Melkonyan’s statemen’s came as Arab League mediators said on Thursday they had brokered a deal to end Lebanon’s worst round of internal fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war. According to the mediators, Hezbollah has agreed to hold talks with the government and remove a roadblock that has shut down the airport for a week.
Shortly after violence broke out between clashing pro-government and opposition Hezbollah forces on May 7, the Lebanese branches of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Armenian Democratic League (Ramkavar Azatakan Party) and Social Democratic Hunchakian Party came forth with a joint statement urging the feuding sides to put an end to bloodshed, engage in dialogue and restore national unity, Melkonyan explained.
The Armenian community in Lebanon has remained neutral in this latest round of internal conflict to hit Lebanon since the civil war, he said. The position of the Armenian national parties and the whole Armenian community during the internal conflicts in Lebanon should therefore be assessed positively.
Melkonian explained that the only major damage suffered by the Armenian community has been the burning of the "Sevan" radio station, which shared the same building as a pro-Hezbollah political party. Despite that fact, the radio station was allowed time to evacuate its equipment and resumed broadcasting a few hours later from an alternate location.
The Armenian Embassy in Lebanon and the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been closely following developmen’s in Lebanon and will be increasing embassy staff in order to deal with the situation on the ground, he told reporters.
"We are ready to assist our citizens there and, if possible, the Lebanese Armenia’s," he added.
"Lebanon is a friendly country with which [Armenia] has many historical and cooperative ties," The Foreign Ministry Official said. "Lebanon is the only Arab country that has recognized the Armenian Genocide, and it is the only Arab country we have an agreement on friendship and cooperation with."
The situation in Lebanon concerns Armenia, not only because the country is home to one of the largest Armenian Diasporas, but also because the stability of Lebanon affects the stability and security of the entire region, Melkonyan stressed, noting that Armenia is very close to the Middle East.
"We hope that the [conflicting] parties will soon reach a solution to the issue through dialogue," he said.
But Armenia plays no role in the given situation and cannot interfere with the domestic affairs of Lebanon, Melkonyan noted. The conflict is the internal affair of Lebanon, and any foreign interference will result in an aggravation of the conflict.
"If we look back, we shall see that what is happening in Lebanon, is the consequence of foreign interference," Melkonyan said.


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