His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Presidential Palace in Damascus on Tuesday and discussed issues of importance to the Syrian-Armenian community and to current situation in the country.
During the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, Aram I expressed gratitude for the state funds allocated by the President’s staff for the renovation of the Forty Martyrs Church in Aleppo and recalled the Syrian people’s generosity in taking in refugee survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
The Catholicos also highlighted the important role the Armenian community has played in the advancement of Syria’s political, cultural and societal life, saying that Syrian-Armenian community is important for both Syria and Armenia.
He also acknowledged the Syrian government’s continued support of the Armenian Cause.
Assad affirmed that Syria was and always will be the home of all its people, regardless of religion or ethnicity, lauding the “patriotic role of Armenian Syrians who embody the values and meanings of citizenship, belonging, and national unity in the face of adversity.”
The Syrian president called on all Syrian-Armenians who have left the country during the tensions there to return to Syria “and rebuild their homes and workplaces,” assuring that the Armenian community of Syria will continue to enjoy the government’s support.
The Catholicos was accompanied to the meeting by Aleppo Prelate Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian; Lebanon’s Tourism Minister Avedis Kitanian; the Armenian members of the Syrian Parliament Nora Arisian and Zhirayr Reyisian; member of Catholicosate Executive Council Hrach Hagopian; member of the Aleppo Prelacy’s Executive Council Garo Youzbashian and his staff bearer Abbot Hovakim Banjarjian.