EAFJD Accompanies Belgian Deputies to Armenia and NKR

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BRUSSELS—A six-member Parliamentary delegation from the Kingdom of Belgium is on a week-long working visit to the Republics of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh). The delegation is accompanied by European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) President Kaspar Karampetian, EAFJD EU Affairs Officer Heghine Evinyan, and Armenian National Committee of Belgium member Robert Invijajev. The working visit began on Sept. 6, and will end on Sept. 13.

The Parliamentary delegation meeting Armenian President Serge Sarkisian

The delegation, consisting of parliamentarians from different factions of the Belgian political spectrum, visited the Armenia’s National Assembly, where various meetings were held. They first met the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, Chairman of the Armenian delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly Artak Zakaryan. Among the topics discussed were the foreign policy of Armenia, specifically, the country’s change of course since 2013 when it decided to join the Eurasian Economic Union. Zakaryan emphasized the determination of Armenia to continue the close cooperation with the European Union. He assured that, in terms of democracy and state-building, Europe—with the values it stands for—is an example to follow. The discussion also focused on the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.

The Parliamentary delegation meeting the Speaker of the National Assembly

Later, the French-speaking members of the Belgian Parliamentary delegation met the members of the Armenian delegation at the Francophonie Parliamentary Assembly. Margarit Yesayan, head of the Armenian delegation, welcomed the guests. In the meantime, Dutch-speaking Karim Van Overmeire was welcomed by the rector, vice rector of the Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, as well as students majoring in political science, international relations, and Dutch philology. The Q&A session, which was conducted partly in Dutch, focused on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Belgium and the Armenian community in Belgium and in particular in Flanders. At the end of the meeting, Van Overmeire visited the center of Dutch studies.

The members of the delegation also met and had a lively exchange of views with the representatives of all Armenian political parties represented in the National Assembly. Among other critical issues, the constitutional reform in Armenia was discussed.

The Parliamentary delegation at the Armenian Genocide Memorial

The last meeting scheduled in the Armenian Parliament was with the President of the National Assembly Galust Sahakyan, who welcomed the Belgian delegation and highlighted the interaction and dialogue between the legislative bodies of the two countries. He also welcomed the establishment of the Friendship Group with Armenia by the Belgian deputies, representatives from the Belgian Parliament to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. He stressed the fact that in the Armenian parliament, the Armenia-Belgium Friendship Group has been functioning for a long time, and expressed confidence that the Friendship Groups’ activity will serve to the deepening of Armenian-Belgian ties. Galust Sahakyan, touching upon the fact that the delegation’s visit is taking place within the framework of the 100th year of the Armenian Genocide, expressed his gratitude for the adoption of the resolution on the Armenian Genocide in July of this year by the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Belgium.

The MPs also had a meeting with civil society organizations. They met representatives of the think tank International Center for Human Development (ICHD), including its Executive Director Armen Galstyan. The questions raised focused, among other issues, relations between Armenia’s government and civil society, and the mechanisms of putting issues on the political agenda.. At the end of the day, the Belgian deputies met Dr. Stepan Grigoryan, director of Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation.

On the second day of their visit, the delegation had a meeting with Giro Manoyan, member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau, and director of the international secretariat, when the pros and cons of the constitutional reform in Armenia was discussed. The Belgian deputies also met former member of the Armenian Parliament, and now representative of Ognir Yeghport NGO Lilit Galstyan. Ognir Yeghport focuses on issues affecting Syrian-Armenian refugees in Armenia. Possibilities of alleviating the difficult situation of the refugees and supporting them were discussed.

Later, the delegation visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial complex at Tsitsernakaberd, and paid homage to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The deputies gained further insight into the details of the history at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute.

The next stop was the Mother See of Holy Etchmiatdzin, center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The delegates had an exchange of views with Archbishop Nathan, who is in charge of the external relations and affairs of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Among the issues discussed, they touched upon the relations of the Armenian Church with other Oriental Christian churches, the current situation of Christians in the Middle East, and the challenges of inter-religious dialogue.

Afterwards, the delegation had a chance to get acquainted with the treasures of the Museum of Ancient Manuscripts-Matenadaran in Yerevan.

At the end of the day, the Parliamentarians from the Kingdom of Belgium had a meeting with the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serge Sarkisian. Sarkisian expressed his gratitude to the Belgian Deputies for their role—as well as the Chamber’s role—in adopting the resolution on the Armenian Genocide. Other issues discussed were relations between Armenia and Belgium, parliamentary cooperation, and the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. The constitutional amendments were also discussed between the two parties.

The second part of the visit, which will last three days, is taking place in Nagorno Karabagh Republic, where the Belgian deputies arrived on Thurs., Sept 9.


Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: EAFJD Accompanies Belgian Deputies to Armenia and NKR