At the Media Center panel discussion, held in cooperation with the For Equal Rights Initiative, Eleonora Asatryan, Coordinator at the Civil Society Network “Refugees and International Right”, said Armenia has prioritized the integration of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan in the Armenian society whereas reverse tendencies have been observed in Azerbaijan in recent decades.
“Azerbaijan has recently developed the Great Repatriation (Great Return) program which is still in effect and may be implemented within the Madrid Principles, which is currently discussed at the Karabakh conflict settlement table, specifies the return of Azerbaijani refuges to their previous residence places. The Armenian authorities, however, are continually saying the issue of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan will be settled after the status is defined,” Asatryan said, adding it is utterly senseless to return to the issue of Armenian refugees after the settlement.
Asatryan noted their organization has received over 35 thousand applications from Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan throughout the world who propose to define the liberated territories of Nagorno Karabakh as a compensation for their sufferings in Azerbaijan.
The NGOs advocating refugees’ rights alerted the world community has employed an asymmetric approach towards refugees and stressed the problems of Azerbaijani refugees are always paid attention to while Armenian refugees are shadowed.
“And it is the problem of our Government as they do not voice the issues,” Asatryan noted.
Robert Khachaturyan said the Armenian authorities have chosen an easy way to solve refugees’ problems. “Everyone was given a passport and became a citizen of Armenia and the question is considered solved. Yet, the issue is far from being settled. We still have the problem of housing refugees as they were allocated some 13 square meters which is the kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. It is a lie that the problems of refugees are solved,” Khachaturyan said.
Refugees do not want to take the Armenian citizenship because their concerns over social security and compensations are not addressed. International organizations provide humanitarian aid to people with the refugee status only whereas a lot of former refugees who have taken citizenship also live in horrific conditions.
Armenians from Azerbaijan stressed their intention not to return to Azerbaijan. Those who speak for going back are mainly from Shahumyan Region.
Julietta Yeremyants said the second generation of refugees are fully integrated in the Armenian society and consider Armenia their homeland. “The refugees, however, have numerous problems still unsolved otherwise they would eagerly become citizens of Armenia.”
Yeremyants said: “It was during the President’s election campaign and one of the meetings in Nor Nork that I asked him when our problems will be addressed, and he said: “Twenty years have passed. Is still there any refugee? And to my second question about the compensation the President replied: “Why do you ask me? Ask Aliyev.” Such was our President’s answer.”