MFA: There are considerable numbers of Daesh fighters from OSCE countries neighboring Armenia

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Region:World News, Armenia
Theme: Politics
YEREVAN. – Today, nowhere the hate crimes against Christians and members of other religious groups are as widespread as in the Middle East where three major world religions were born.

The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, on Wednesday noted the above-said in his statement at the conference in capital city Yerevan, and entitled: “Preventing and Countering Hate Crimes against Christians and Members of other Religious Groups – Perspectives from the OSCE and beyond.”

“For centuries the Armenian nation has constituted a part of the multicultural and multi-religious mosaic of this region,” Nalbandian added, in particular. “This diversity of the Middle East was once a remarkable asset. However, the interchanging waves of nationalism and religious fundamentalism have significantly altered the religious and ethnic structure of the region. As a result Christianity in the Middle East declined from about 20 percent of the population to less than 5 percent in the course of the 20th century and the numbers went even less in the beginning of 21st century. In Iraq, Christians declined by 80 percent in the past decade. In Syria, the Christian population has fallen from 1 million 250 thousand to less than 500,000 in the course of just past six years. The once thriving Armenian community in Syria has also sharply declined. Armenia has received more than twenty two thousand refugees only from Syria, making our country the third largest recipient of Syrian refugees in Europe on per capita basis.

“Yazidi people in Iraq are one of the main victims of religious based violence in the Middle East. International community has recognized genocidal nature of the barbaric actions of terrorist groups against Yazidi people, their cultural and religious heritage. Armenia has addressed the problem of protection of the Yazidi people in various international fora, including the OSCE.

“The mass exodus from this region of members of the religious groups is largely an outcome of inhumane ideology and atrocities perpetrated by terrorist organizations. It should be made clear once and again that religion has nothing to do with the terrorists, who misuse it. What we are countering here are crimes against civilization perpetrated by Daesh [(ISIS)] and other terrorist groups. We condemn these actions in the strongest terms.

“Safeguarding the remnants of diversity in the Middle East is important for restoration of regional safety and security. It may contribute to the prevention of the spillover effect that threatens the neighboring regions and far beyond. We believe that the OSCE and its Mediterranean partners have strong shared interest in this regard. The phenomenon of the terrorists returning from the Middle East battlefields threatens not just the security of the countries of their origin, but may become a destabilizing factor in other regions, stimulating crisis situations and regional conflicts. The Daesh style beheadings and other despicable atrocities are already not limited just to the Middle East. The recent research showed that there are considerable numbers of fighters in the ranks of Daesh from OSCE participating States that are neighboring to Armenia. This is a matter of concern for us and I am sure many OSCE participating states share similar concerns.”