While the war in Syria sees no sign of abetting, government forces liberated key areas that were occupied by ISIS forces, among them the highly Armenian-populated city of Aleppo and other areas that boast a large concentration of Armenians.
Recently, a delegation of Syrian lawmakers visited Armenia to further discuss cooperation between the two countries. Nora Arisan, a member of the Syrian Parliament representing the Armenian community was part of the delegation and sat down with Armenpress for an interview, during which she emphasized that rebuilding and restoring Armenian institutions damaged by war was a priority for the community there.
Armenpress: Mrs. Arisian, what was the purpose of your visit and what were some of the key takeawyas from your visit?
Nora Arisian: The Syrian delegation was taking part in the 52nd plenary session of the General Assembly of BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation) Parliamentary Assembly as Syria was representing the Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, where, in addition to other issues, the role of parliaments was emphasized in the development of regional economic cooperation.
It’s worth mentioning that on the sidelines of this event the delegations, as well as the members of the Syrian delegation visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial where they laid wreaths and paid tribute to the memory of the victims [of the Armenian Genocide] with a moment of silence.
I would like also to highlight the visit to the Institute of Oriental Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia where we had a meeting with the director and researchers and discussed the cooperation prospects.
Armenpress: What are the priority issues on the agenda of Syrian and Armenian Parliaments? In what directions the partner lawmakers must move?
N.A.: During our meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament we discussed relations and prospects of cooperation between the two parliaments. It is necessary to make additional efforts to develop relations of the parliamentary friendship groups in order to continue the centuries-old allied ties.
Armenpress: Major domestic political developments, such as the revolution, establishment of a new government, democracy have taken place in Armenia recently. How do our Syrian partners view the events in Armenia?
N.A.: Syria follows the ongoing developments and political changes in Armenia, with the hope that it would be possible to implement the numerous signed agreements after the snap parliamentary elections and the formation of a new cabinet.
Armenpress: And in this context what role can the Armenian lawmakers in the Syrian Parliament, and the Armenian community in general, can play in strengthening the Armenia-Syria relations?
N.A.: We strive to serve as a bridge between the two countries and peoples, and we take all steps to benefit the development of relations between Syria and Armenia.
Armenpress: Mrs. Arisian, what is the current situation in Armenian-populated areas in Syria from a security standpoint?
N.A.: It is necessary to note that the cities are already liberated from terrorist groups, but this doesn’t mean that the war is over. Yes, life is more secure, although some problems exist, such as water and electricity supply.
Armenpress: As an Armenian member of parliament representing the Armenian community, what are the current priorities for the Armenian community in your opinion?
N.A.: I think, like for all Syrians, for us the restoration is the main agenda issue, especially the restoration of our schools and Armenian institutions. These projects require large sums of money, and our main problem is here. Moreover, I think it is also necessary to take action to solve the problems of reconstruction of the community in light of new conditions.
And as for the return of Armenians, I would like to state that the calm situation promotes the return of many, however, one should also consider the existing economic and social situation in Syria [before making such a decision].