PALERMO, Italy – In his remarks during the 2017 OSCE Mediterranean Conference in Palermo, Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian emphasized the work of the Armenian government in assisting refugees in the region and facilitating their integration. He was addressing the segment entitled “Advancing Mediterranean security and cooperation in an age of large movements of migrants and refugees.”
Nalbandian stated that the unexpected movements of migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean and the Middle East, in particular from Syria and Iraq, require close cooperation in order to address security related issues.
“From Syria alone Armenia has harbored about 22,000 refugees, on per capita basis making our country the third largest recipient of Syrian refugees in Europe,” said Nalbandian in his address. “This has caused a number of challenges for a country of just 3 million which has in the recent past already received hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from Azerbaijan.”
The Foreign Minister explained that many of the Syrian Armenian refugees are descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide who found shelter in Syria. He stressed that 100 years later, these Armenians once again are being forced to abandon their homes.
“We offered a wide variety of protection tools such as accelerated asylum procedures, facilitated naturalization, emergency and medical assistance, housing, scholarships, simplified access to educational institutions and labor market, flexible taxation and business environment,” Nalbandian said when discussing what opportunities the Armenian government offered refugees.
Armenia has also tried to reach out to those who need assistance in Syria by continuous provisions of humanitarian aid, according to the minister. “The Consulate General of Armenia in Aleppo has been the only diplomatic mission in the city that despite challenging conditions has never stopped operating,” read his statement.
In turn, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov falsely blamed displacement in Azerbaijan on Armenia and as a result of Armenia’s “military aggression” and so called occupation of Nagorno Karabakh.
According to the Spokesman for Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Tigran Balayan’s Twitter, Mammadyarov used his remarks at the conference to manipulate the truth.
“Baku once again abused an international conference in Palermo that has nothing to do with NK conflict with cheap manipulations aimed at shifting the attention from Azerbaijan’s worldwide humiliation as a result of Laundromat policy of corruption, aggressive criminal posture,” tweeted Balayan.
In his remarks, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister accused Armenia of violating international law and interfering with the peaceful negotiating process, according to Azerbaijan’s News.az.
“By impudently violating humanitarian law, Armenia carried out ethnic cleansing policy against almost one million Azerbaijani civilians in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and in Armenia itself,” said Mammadyarov in his address. “It left Azerbaijan with one of the largest internally displaced population per capita in the world.
“Policy pursued by Armenia aimed at resettling Armenians from Syria on the occupied lands of Azerbaijan in a grave breach of international humanitarian law, in particular the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocols is a vivid example to these attempts of misuse of human suffering for illegal purposes,” continued Mammadyarov.
Like previously done by other Azerbaijani leaders, Mammadyrarov has once again fabricated the truth in order to paint Azerbaijan as the victim and to cover the variety of issues Azerbaijan is currently facing.