YEREVAN (Armenpress)—His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia presided over the extraordinary session of Armenia’s Central National Department. At the course of the session Aram I reported on the situation in Kessab, his activities in this regard, and the difficulties the Armenians of Kessab had to face in Latakia.
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I underscored: “Today, support to the Armenians of Kessab is a priority for us. Where the sons of the Armenian nation have to face difficulties, overcoming those difficulties must become a priority obligation for all Armenians.”
“As we said on Sunday, it’s the same Turk, who organized the Armenian Genocide and who ruins Kessab today,” Holiness Catholicos Aram I noted.
Previously it was reported that on Friday, March 21, early in the morning, Aram I was informed of the assault and bombardment by extremist rebel forces from Turkey on Kessab, the historical Armenian region near the Turkish border. After consultations with the Armenian clergy and community leaders in Latakia, Aleppo, Damascus and Lebanon, the Catholicos demanded that the Syrian authorities protect the Armenian population of the region.
On Saturday evening, the Ambassador of Syria to Lebanon visited the Catholicos, accompanied by Hagop Pakradouni, Member of Parliament, and Hagop Khatcherian, member of the Bureau of Tashnaktsoutiun. The Ambassador assured the Catholicos that the state will do its utmost to restore security in Kessab. The Ambassador also informed the Catholicos that the army had moved the population of Kessab to safety in Latakia, to escape death at the hands of the militants, who have been armed by Turkish authorities.
On Sunday, during the Divine Liturgy, Aram I invited the faithful to pray for the Armenian population of Kessab, who, one hundred years after the genocide, had become refugees by an action instigated by Turkey. He then sent a delegation consisting of priests to assess the needs of the refugees.
On March 24, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, had a telephone conversation with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, concerning the seizure of Kessab and the surrounding areas, which led to the evacuation of the Armenian population and several Armenian families, as well as the destruction and shelling of homes and sacred places.
The Catholicos of All Armenians expressed his deep concerns about the events and condemned the extremists’ terrorist actions against the peaceful civilians, which was being supported by Turkey. During the conversation, Karekin II expressed his support to Aram I.
Aram I also had a telephone conversation with His Grace Bishop Armash Nalbandian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Damascus, regarding the current situation in Kessab.
During a consultation at the Mother See, the Karekin II affirmed that the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and its diocesan structures dispersed throughout the Diaspora will continue to support Syrian-Armenians, praying for the re-establishment of peace in the lives of the pious people of Syria and the safe return of the deported and refugee families.