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Syrian-Armenians Don’t Want Revolution: Diaspora Expert on Threats to Armenians

“This is that situation in Armenians’ case when one unwillingly recalls a favorite expression of Americans, ‘No news is good news.’ I don’t think that news about Armenians will leave us happy. That is to say, it’s better if it remains like this,” said diaspora expert Eduard Melkonyan, speaking at a press conference in Yerevan today and commenting on the situation of Armenians living in Arab countries.

Speaking about possible threats to Armenians on the backdrop of events in the Arab world, Melkonyan said it’s unclear what policy the new regime will adopt, how much stronger the role of Islam will be, how important will be the roles that the radical strata of Islam will occupy. “In any country, during such radical changes, the first victims are the ethnic minorities.”

According to Melkonyan, there are about 6,000 Armenians living in Egypt, who live mainly in the capital, Cairo, and Alexandria. “When this coup began, the Armenian community adopted a neutral position,” he said, adding, however, that in the case of such a small community, it’s not that important what position you take.

In Syria, however, it’s a different picture: according to the diaspora expert, there are more than 80,000 Armenians living there, the majority of whom live in Aleppo (Haleb), then Damascus and Latakia.

“Here the community, from day one and till today, became the ruling president’s back and repeatedly displayed its loyalty to the ruling regime,” he said.

This position of Syrian-Armenians Melkonyan explained this way: “The Armenian community, it can be said, had exceptional opportunities to lead a normal life: churches, schools, and cultural, charitable, youth and other organizations. That is, there was no substantial reason for the local Armenians to be disgruntled with ruling authorities.”