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Memory of the Apostles

The Everyday Prayer



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September 8 2015 09:30 | Congress Palace

Speech of Armash Nalbandian

Armash Nalbandian

Armenian Primate of Damascus, Syria

First I beg your apology, because I can’t present you my contribution in its fullness. For the tragedy of migrants refugees is so painful and deep touchy and so fragile that it is impossible to give the whole picture of the situation. The issues are developing so fast that I can’t offer you the current and up to date information. Even the famous news agencies are unable to follow the ongoing happenings.
But in last few days circulates a picture in the international media.

It is a heart-rending photo: A Turkish policeman carrying a small dead child on the beach resort of Bodrum. On another photo of the corpse of the dead child can be seen on the sand, face down, still encircled by the waves. These pictures are now in large format on the front pages of all newspapers worldwide.

The child urges in his angelic voiceless silence, the leaders, presidents and prime ministers and responsible persons to rethink, and appeals to the proud tradition of the countries, to help people in need.

As a result of the four-year Syrian conflict, 220,000 people have been killed, 12 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, 4 million have become refugees, and another 7.6 million have been internally displaced. This is what the UN Secretary General’s Deputy for Humanitarian Affairs reported in his speech at the UN Security Council on April 24. (The war has taken the lives of more than 100 Syrian-Armenians. Prior to the war, there were nearly 100,000 Armenians living in Syria, and 70,000 of them were based in Aleppo).
An important step that I thinks will help galvanize the international community to help Christians is for national leaders to join with Pope Francis and recognize what is happening there as a genocide.
It’s genocide. It has all the facts, events, stories and experiences to meet the definition of genocide. We should not wait another 20 years and look back to what happened and say, ‘Well, I’m sorry that we did not do something really decisive”.

Those who have just come in large numbers and sometimes risking their lives, are naturally clearly visible and present in the media: refugees and immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan. Those other, however, go traveling, invisible by plane, the sedan or the Railjet from medial and are not present.

The European spirit has been able to build after so many years and decades of war, a Europe without borders. By realization of this vision, the economic, business and trade barriers have been abolished. Even money transfers between banks run smoothly. People travel across Europe without be stopped. A dream of free Europe becameTrue.

But in 2015 with the European values created it seems to have been forgotten the human dimension and values . Because for many migrants who had left their homes and escaped the war and destruction, new limits are set.

The churches should be their mission litter. More needs to be focused on the people in need and on their position, than it represent as a global challenge. The question should be: how can we help these people? There dip a chain of questions, all of which are of great significance and importance.

In the countries where they come from is the question: Stay in danger and fear of life and death, or to emigrate into the unknown?

On the other hand in the target countries, the question is whether the refugees should be included, or to be rejected by the right of asylum because of the numerous crowd of refugees.

From this conference, from Albania, that has experienced mass emigration in the past, but is now a model of coexistence, it should be sent a strong message to the world: we know that you can’t stop the current exodus from the South the Middle East, if nothing is done to stop ongoing conflicts. Religions can do much for peace. Must meet, share and work together: the walls are the past, the integration is the future.

The World community and UN have miserably failed to fulfil its core purpose – namely "to maintain international peace and security". Especially in Syria for the past five years. The world has failed the innocent Syrian civilians, mainly women and children. They have failed the millions of refugees for the past five years.

According to UN’s own reports there will be over 4.27
million Syrian refugees by December 2015. The worst part is half of that number is below the age of 18. Over 2 million children are suffering every second due to the failure of the UN, the very organisation that exists to save them. The UN even failed to raise the minimum required funds ($6.5 billion) to meet the needs of the affected. It is clearly not capable of practical, immediate, real action.

The world is weeping as we see the dead bodies of innocent Syrian children getting washed ashore. They don't deserve this fate. The UN has failed to get their member states to open the gates to receive the Syrian refugees who are left in cold to drown in the middle of the sea. They have died due to the lack of action.

No one wants to take them, the Syrian refugees, the Hungarians do not, the Macedonians do not, the Greeks did not. They did not have to flee if the war would finally finished.
In the reception of refugees, many countries have many excuses. Some say they have a problem with Muslims, the others moan that they had been so many, still others have yet more ridiculous excuses.
"The police do not like the Syrians. In Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia, Greece" said a 13 years old Syrian refugee boy (Kinan) and demands “ Please help the Syrians and the Syrians need help now by ending the war, then we do not want to Europe Stops only the war in Syria only that. . . . . "
Since early 2011, triggered by the Arab Spring, rages the civil war. According to the UN, about 220,000 people are in the four years from 2011 to March 2015 have been killed. Around twelve million Syrians are fleeing, two thirds of them in their own country, one-third has left the country. And this was made almost four million it abroad hardly better than at home.
Meanwhile, hundreds and thousands of refugees are walking on the way to Austria. They break through cordons of police and just keep on running. Far away from war, somewhere, where it is hopefully better.

The fact that the media worldwide reports the events on the coast of the Mediterranean, it does not as long as a global challenge of the migrant issue.
The problem of refugees is a current default and acute problem. But Europe considers it as a European problem, instead of being regarded as the problem of those affected. This aspect decreases the globalization of the challenge.

Globalization?? World leaders need to stop lying. You need to stop unilateral information and reviews to help and pass on. Half the truth is not truth: it is a lie.

The only work Globalization is the network of traffickers and smugglers these days.

Dialogue between religions and cultures is to have a global vision. Instead of watching the growth of the rise of radical Islam, one must occur the growing radicalism.

Concluding remarks:
1. The condemnation of violence and terrorism is an imperative and a must. The condemnation (of the Armenian Genocide) will prevent a repetition of such a crime. Today, more than ever, is expected a condemnation of the violence in Syria, namely the violence from both sides.

2. The churches in Europe should raise their voice and address an appeal to the politicians and to their governments. The churches must urge them, that when planning the foreign policy, the existence and preservation of Christianity in the Middle East and Syria needs to be considered.

3. We all must work to end the violence in Syria.

4. The preservation of the existence of Christians in Syria is of great historical importance. This is also the responsibility of the churches outside Syria. One must be careful in the statements that may have humanitarian intention and sound human, but find another or wrong sound. Of the 1.4 million Christians now 600,000 left their homes and the land. I still hope that the parties concerned to return sooner or later to their homes. But also the West should make strong and instead debate less about the integration of Christian refugees. Such statements on the inclusion of refugees in Europe send a wrong message (Message), because that every Christian feels approached and invited to emigrate. (It would be better to strengthen them on the spot back). What should happen to Syria, if the country is empty. This will make it even made the terrorists even easier.

5. The Christians and the churches in Syria want that one understands them properly and correctly assess in this conflict. It must be supplemented here that the stability of the government guarantees our security as a Church and as a religious minority, which does not mean that Christians are for the government.
6. The churches should be used more to helping the churches in Syria. The local churches are to be accepted as partner. The humanitarian, pastoral, medical activities and the missions are to be supported. As well as the education and school system should be promoted.

7. The crisis in the Middle East raises a new question. It will take place a lot of changes in the region. The emergence of radical Islam should be alarming. The Christians have lived with Muslims for centuries. Through experience in the common history we have learned to live together. The question is, what kind of Islam will have the Near East? Or what kind of Islam we want. It is obvious that Islam goes through an internal crisis. Islam is experiencing a crisis of identity today. Even the Islamists justify their radical ideologies with the Scriptures, the Koran, and make it compulsory for their machinations. Here Christians can play an important role. Through interreligious dialogue the Christian experience of the tradition of the Enlightenment and the text-critical work-up can be offered as an example the moderate Muslim scholars. The Christians in the Middle East can take over the bridge-building function and so make its due contribution. Such a position and such an attitude of Christians in the Middle East can and should promote a process of enlightenment and reciting the Quranic texts and hadiths.

8. The churches in Syria need today a construction (reconstruction or rebuilding) in education, community life, and humanitarian relief efforts. The churches are missing today experts in all areas. One of the reasons can be mentioned of the emigration of many educated teachers, doctors, lawyers etc. Through a collaboration with the churches in Europe can be created possibilities for scholarships to allow many young people to postgraduate studies in European countries. I hope that these experts trained in the West could be the bearer of the process democratization in the future or the contact person for the on the national and international Level.




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