YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Member of the Canadian Parliament Stéphane Dion has arrived in Armenia for a working visit at the initiative of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, the Armenian Embassy in Canada and the Nagorno Karabakh Permanent Representation in the US.
The Canadian member of parliament visited Artsakh, where he had meetings with President Bako Sahakyan and Speaker of Parliament Ashot Ghulyan. On his trip, he also visited Lachin to familiarize himself with the living conditions of Syrian Armenians, who have settled there.
Stéphane Dion’s visit to Artsakh has angered the Azerbaijani Embassy in Canada. Dion says, however, that Azerbaijan’s policy of “blacklisting” foreign citizens visiting Artsakh is absurd. “Before arriving in Armenia, I knew about the Armenian-Azerbaijani issue, but I was not aware of Azerbaijan’s “black list,” which I think is something illogical. I have explained to everyone that my objective was to meet Syrian Armenian refugees. When I say the “black list” is illogical, I mean that it’s illogical to separate the population of a certain area from the rest of mankind,” he said.
Speaking about the Karabakh issue, the Canadian legislator said it should be solved within the framework of the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. “During my meetings with the people and authorities of Artsakh, I understood that they are strong people and are proponents of peace,” he added.
Having met with Syrian Armenians, Stéphane Dion says their living conditions are not that good. “I’m not authorized to assess the policy of the Armenian Government, but one thing is clear – Syrian Armenians face great difficulties, they are short of money and have no proper housing. Many of them are not going to return, aware that the situation in their country will not be solved soon.”
Dion said the Canadian Armenian community is one of the most organized and successful ones. “Armenians are rather successful. They speak Armenian, English, French and are integrated into the life of the country. At the same time, they maintain their cultural roots. To some extent Canada is obliged to help Armenia,” Mr. Dion said, adding that the opening of the Canadian Embassy in Armenia will promote the further deepening of Armenian-Canadian relations.