YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian temporarily moved its consulate-general in Aleppo to a safer location in Syria’s largest city after more than a week of fierce fighting between Syrian government troops and rebels, official Yerevan announced over the weekend.
Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the consulate premises are now located closer to central Aleppo neighborhoods populated by tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians. There have been no reports of major fighting there yet.
Balayan said the main purpose of the relocation is to “organize consular services provided to Syrian Armenians in a safer and faster manner.”
The Aleppo consulate as well as the Armenian Embassy in Damascus continue to function despite escalating violence in Syria. According to the Foreign Ministry, they have issued some 3,000 Armenian visas this year.
The diplomatic missions were also authorized last week to give Armenian passports to Syrian nationals of Armenian descent. According to immigration authorities in Yerevan, more than 6,000 of them have applied for dual Armenian citizenship since the beginning of last year.
Armenia’s Ministry of Diaspora insisted that the increasingly bloody strife in Syria still does not warrant a mass exodus of Armenians. “Most of them do not see [deadly] dangers. Why? Because there is no anti-Armenian hysteria,” said Firdus Zakarian, head of a ministry task force dealing with arriving Syrian Armenians.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation reaffirmed its opposition to a mass migration of Syrian Armenian community.
Giro Manoyan, the ARF’s political director, said community members coming to Armenia should get government assistance. “But one must not create the impression that all Syrian Armenians want to come to Armenia and that we are not doing anything to help them come because there is no such desire,” he said.