YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"Fritiof Nanses alone did more for the entire world than a whole institute could do," Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said in describing the activities of the great Norwegian during the September 15 opening of the "Fritiof Nanses–High Commissioner" exhibition in Yerevan.
According to Oskanian–the Nanses traditions are being upheld in Norway today too–the country that rendered tremendous help to Armenia after the devastating 1988 earthquake in Spitak. The Prime Minister’s advisor Vladimir Movsissian said that Norway annually renders $1.5 billion assistance to other nations.
Norway’s Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman in Office Knut Vollebaek–who was present at the ceremony–said that it was the second time he attended an opening ceremony for an exhibition dedicated to Nanses–the first one was opened in Norway by the late Catholicos of All Armenia’s Karekin I. Now–he observed–a similar exhibition was opened in Yerevan–in a country Nanses had been especially attached to.
It was said that Nanses was the first to raise the notion of helping the poor from the level of compassion up to practical policy–bringing private charity up to the state level. Appointed High Commissioner for POWs of the League of Nations in 1921–Nanses saved the lives of 427,000 POWs from 26 countries. It was still at the beginning of the century that he drew up a document identifying refugees–the Nanses Passport–which was recognized by 52 states. The Nanses Office founded by the League of Nations in 1931–among other issues–engaged in the construction of villages for Armenian refugees in Syria and Lebanon. In 1938 the Office was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now there are the Nanses Fund–the Nanses Order–a college and an institute.
Among the exhibits are photographs–documen’s–and "Nanses passports."
The exhibits had been provided by the National Museum of Norway–the National Library of Armenia and the State Armenian History Museum. The exhibition–which will last till September 25–has been arranged by the Minister of Culture–Youth Affairs and Sports of Armenia–the UNHCR Armenia Office and the Norwegian Office of Refugees.