Visa, Passport Requirements Eased for Syrian Armenians


YEREVAN (ArmeniaNow) — The govern- ment of Armenia has once again addressed the issue of Syrian-Armenians who are suffering as a result of the civil war in Syria.

Under a new decree issued on Thursday, the government gives an opportunity to all Armenians who are citizens of a number of countries (including Syria) to get an entrance visa at border checkpoints of Armenia. Previously citizens of other countries with Armenian origin could get an entrance visa only in official Armenian diplomatic representations and consulates in foreign countries and only based on an invitation from Armenia.

The government has also referred to the concerns voiced by Syrian-Armenians, saying that in order to get an Armenian passport they have to come back and forth to Armenia several times. The government has approved a list of countries the citizens of which in some cases (especially during wartime) can get an Armenian passport for the first time in diplomatic representations and consulates of Armenia in foreign countries. Lebanon and Syria are on the list of those countries.

At the same time, negotiations are under- way between the government and Armavia Airlines to increase flights between Aleppo- Yerevan to twice weekly. A weekly flight also is carried out by Syrian Airlines. Both have sold out all tickets up until September. Armavia has been repeatedly criticized for having a limited number of flights and raising the ticket prices. The aviation company stated that the criticism is baseless, because unlike many European  countries Armavia continues carrying out flights in the war zone, and it is connected with high insurance risks and substantial expenses.

Armavia has officially stated that it will be able to add one more flight a week if the government supports them, providing the company with subsidies (the government did it in 2006 during the Lebanon-Israel conflict).

“According to the international avi- ation legislation, the frequency of flights is increased only in case governments agree; that is to say, Armavia cannot increase the flights independently,” an Armavia representative said.

The World Armenian Congress (WAC) provided $43,000 to Armavia for a special flight to Aleppo on August 14, which transported 149 children from Syria to Armenia.

Earlier, on August 9, a total of 120 children were transported to Armenia via chartered fights. Prime Minister Tigran Sargisian promised assistance for another two Yerevan-Aleppo-Yerevan flights to transport 300 more children to Armenia on August 23.

At present, the children who have already arrived from Syria are at vari- ous resorts in Armenia.

In related news, the Hayastan All- Armenian Fund has opened bank accounts for those who wish to make contributions to assist the Armenian community in Syria. All donations will be transferred to the national leadership of the community on the ground in Syria and a special coordi- nating committee will earmark funds when and where it deems necessary.

The accounts are:

HSBC Bank Armenia, 9, V. Sargsyan St., Yerevan Armenia, SWIFT: MID- LAM22 account number, 001-002195- 102 (dollars); account number, 001- 002195-104 (euros); and account num- ber, 001-002195-001 (drams).