BEIRUT: Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said his country would stand by Lebanon amid the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and expressed concern for the Syrian Armenians caught in that country’s conflict.
Denouncing last month’s assassination of senior security chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, Sargsyan said that Lebanese leaders should unify their ranks and stand together to prevent a new wave of attacks against Lebanon.
“We regret and denounce the terrorist attack of Oct. 19 and we express our condolences to the families of the victims. Armenia hopes that the attack will fail to shake Lebanon’s stability,” Sargsyan said.
Speaking during a lunch banquet in his honor at Speaker Nabih Berri’s Ain al-Tineh residence, Sargsyan said Armenia was confident that Lebanese leaders can take the necessary steps to build confidence among the Lebanese and protect the country from violence.
“Armenian authorities are ready for their role to stand by Lebanon and the Lebanese to solve the present conflicts,” he added.
In a rare showing amid the ongoing political deadlock in the country, MPs from across the political divide met for lunch at Ain al-Tineh. A number of diplomats and senior state officials also attended the gathering at Berri’s residence.
Sargsyan also said his country was worried by the ongoing violence in Syria and expressed concern over the fate of at least 80,000 Syrian Armenians in the war-torn country.
“The continuing violence and the terrorist activities in Syria are completely unacceptable … Thousands of Syrian Armenians are also living under these difficult circumstances. Armenia’s stance toward this crisis is clear: We ask our brothers and sisters in Syria to rally behind restoring peace as quickly as possible in Syria,” said Sargsyan, who arrived in Beirut Monday for a three-day official visit.
“The main challenge is to spread peace and stability in the world.”
He added that Lebanon was the first country in the region to endorse democratic values but it paid a high price for those principles because “the region surrounding it was not ready for them.”
Earlier Tuesday, Sargsyan visited Armenian Patriarch Aram I at the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias and praised the role the church played for the community.
Before heading to the lunch in Ain al-Tineh, Sargsyan visited Haigazian University in Beirut, during which he was welcomed by a crowd of students and administration officials.
Students from the American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University and the Saint Joseph University gathered at Haigazian along with the university’s president, the Rev. Paul Haidostian, to welcome the Armenian official.
“You are tasked to build stronger relations between Armenia and Lebanon,” Sargsyan told the students in a speech.
Also Tuesday, Sargsyan visited the Armenian Catholic monastery in Bzommar and met with Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX. The Armenian president will hold a farewell meeting with President Michel Sleiman Wednesday morning before ending his three-day visit to Lebanon.