|Author:||By Aghavni Harutyunian|
Antonio Gutierrez: I was careful enough not to use the word ‘Armenia’ at the press conference
Armenian foreign minister Vartan Oskanian welcomed Antonio Gutierrez, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at the Ministry on August 21, expressing satisfaction with the attention that the UN pays to refugee issues. In Mr. Gutierrez’s words, this was his first visit to the South Caucasus as a UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also saying that he is satisfied with the cooperation with the Armenian government.
Speaking about the recent legislative initiative directed to refugee issues, Mr. Gutierrez thanked the Armenian government for its attitude towards Armenian and non-Armenian refugees during the Lebanese war. As to Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the adjacent refugee issue, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees underscored that the office he heads is a non-political organization and added that once the conflict is regulated the refugees can return to their homes. "The return of refugees to this complicated region will be a positive element," he said.
Antonio Gutierrez started his South Caucasian journey from Azerbaijan. According to Azerbaijani media, Mr. Gutierrez voiced a few interesting views there. In Particular, Azerbaijani online editions report that the UN representative was displeased with the statistics of providing citizenship to refugees in Armenia, saying that the numbers are low. Besides, Mr. Gutierrez was quoted as saying that Azerbaijan is the first country with the number of refugees and it is doing everything for refugees. At the Yerevan press conference on August 21, Mr. Gutierrez stated that he did not say anything like that. Firstly, Azerbaijan is not on the first place with the number of refugees it has, Secondly, certain things are being done for refugees in Azerbaijan but there are still refugee camps with rather bad conditions just the way it is in Armenia, Mr. Gutierrez said. As to alleged dissatisfaction with the Armenian government, Antonio Gutierrez stated that he never said anything like that so there is need for comments. "I was careful enough not to use the word ‘Armenia’ at the press conference [in Baku – A. H.]." At any rate the UN High Representative for Refugee said that the best tool for protecting the refugees is to grant them citizenship and Armenia has chosen its own path.
Answering a question about returning the belongings of Armenian refugees, Mr. Gutierrez said that this issue can be discussed after the regulation and resettlement of the refugees.
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