YEREVAN (Armenpress)—Despite numerous social and economic difficulties caused by the war, the Armenian community of Syria continues to live and to work. Armenpress presents an interview with editor-in-chief of Aleppo’s Gandzasar weekly Zarmik Boghikian about issues concerning the Armenians of Syria.
ARMENPRESS: What are some issues facing the Armenian community of Syria? What kind of difficulties have they encountered during this period?
ZARMIK BOGHIKIAN: As part of the Syrian people, the Armenian community has suffered the effects of anxiety over these three years. Being a minority, we endured much more damages – in the form of destruction of national structures, in the psychological sense, a large number of people left Syria, we had many losses. Syrian-Armenians tried to survive with all this. Our main task now is coming out of this war with the least amount of loss possible, because we do not favor any political force and have no connection with the war. From the very beginning the Armenian community of Syria tried to back all the efforts directing the country to democracy.
A.P.: Is there any official data on the number of victims and material losses?
Z.B.: There are official numbers: we have had 100 victims killed up to today and 106 kidnapped and missing people. We have 1,700 damaged apartments and national structures. The community’s population has been reduced by 50 percent; a part of them have emigrated to Armenia – about 12,000 people – the other part to Lebanon; and some of them have left for the countries of Western Europe. Our wish is that Syrian-Armenians settle in the homeland, as they can at least preserve their national identity there.
A.P.: Can we say that the population of Armenians in Syria is 30,000?
Z.B.: With a bit of hesitation – yes, because there are no exact numbers. In addition to external migration, internal displacement also took place. The majority emigrated from Aleppo, as it is the most dangerous place and people live there in difficult conditions.
A.P.: What would you say about the cultural life of the Armenian community of Syria?
Z.B.: Our community leaders and religious leaders do everything possible to keep our schools working. The academic year has begun and we hope that we will go through the year with minimal harm and will not see any more losses.