The destroyed Deir Zor church and monument in Syria

Armenian Delegation Meets with al-Assad, Who Promises to Rebuild Razed Genocide Monument

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By Anna Gziryan

YEREVAN (Armenpress) — A meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian-Armenians as well as businessmen from Armenia was held in December in a positive and warm atmosphere. The group from Armenia was led by George Barseghyan, chairman of the Syrian-Armenian community in Armenia. He presented details from the aforementioned meeting during a recent interview.

Barseghyan said the activities began after the appointment of the new Syrian ambassador in Armenia. The new staff of the embassy started actively working with the Syrian-Armenian community in Armenia. That time a board of the Syrian-Armenian community in Armenia was elected led by George Barseghyan.

“There was the task, that this board must boost Syria-Armenia ties. The first step was asking for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And this request was granted very quickly. A meeting was scheduled not only with the Syrian president, but also other high-ranking officials of Syria,” he said.

He noted that Assad’s government has managed to overcome the current situation. The US thinks of withdrawing its troops from Syria and is already taking practical steps. A number of Arab countries are thinking of opening their embassies in Syria. All these actions suppose the restoration of Syria, and for this purpose quite major economic programs are expected to be implemented.

“The Syrian government plans to give priority in these programs to those countries which stood together with it during those years. Armenia is among those countries which didn’t close its embassy during the war, always kept state ties and sent aid to Syria. And during the upcoming progress, business programs and restoration works the priority will be given to Armenians,” Barseghyan said, adding that the Syrian government appreciates the role of the Armenian community. He said it’s not a coincidence that the Syrian President promised to restore the Armenian Church in Deir Zor.

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During the visit in Syria the Armenian delegation also met with the prime minister, the parliament speaker, as well as business companies. They have outlined a number of directions for future cooperation.

“Our visit pursued several goals: Firstly to strengthen and intensify Armenian-Syrian ties. In addition, we also wanted to express our support to the Syrian president and government. Armenia is one of those unique countries most of the population of which supports the current Syrian government, because we have managed to reach significant success during that leadership’s government. It was a proper occasion to show our support. We have Armenian communities in Syria, in Aleppo, Damascus and elsewhere. The local Armenians have very good relations with the authorities, and we also must think about this,” he said.

The meeting with Assad was marked by handing over a symbolic gift, the miniature of a monument in Armenia which symbolizes Armenians’ gratitude to the Syrian people for the support shown during the Armenian Genocide. The original monument is located on the way to the Zvartnots airport and has been constructed by the funds of Diaspora-Armenians. It depicts the map of Syria, the Armenian eagle and the pillar of eternity. It was unveiled in  2013.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hosted the Syrian-Armenian delegation in late December. The meeting participants discussed the situation in Syria and the country’s restoration process. The businessmen expressed the wish to participate in the reconstruction activities. The Syrian president stated that Armenia’s principled position and support provided during the whole period of terror war unleashed against Syria enable it to be one of the leading countries which have a fair right to participate in Syria’s restoration work.

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