Armenian community of Norway seeks official recognition of Genocide

Approximately 2000 Armenians live in Norway, according to statistics. The majority of Armenians live in Oslo, while the other overwhelming part live in the country’s south, and a small group of Armenians reside in northern regions.

Narine H. Harutyunyan, director of external relations of the Armenian Apostolic Church community of Norway, and finance director of Brownells, conditionally divides the Armenian community to two parts -the Armenian cultural community and the Armenian Apostolic Church community. The cultural community was formed in 1989 by Lebanese-Armenians and Iranian-Armenians, while the church community was formed later in 2012. It was created by Armenians who arrived in the country from Armenia.

The first flow of Armenians into Norway began in 1970 from Iran, Middle East and Armenia. The overwhelming majority of immigrants in the past 20 years are from Armenia, but Armenians from Syria aren’t few either.

“As it was mentioned numerously, Armenians are hardworking people. It is also seen among the Armenians of Norway. Armenians of Norway carry out activities in various sectors. For example healthcare, economics, music, high technologies, woodworking, construction, arts etc. I can reassure that all of them are high class professionals of their work. There are renowned Armenians in various sector, but I wouldn’t want to point out someone in particular. I can only say that every Norwegian-Armenian, regardless of everything and employment, is first of all introducing himself of being from the country which was the first to officially adopt Christianity in the world. And we also don’t miss the chance to tell about the centuries old history”, Harutyunyan told ARMENPRESS.

Speaking about the preservation of the language, she said it is one of the most painful issues of the Armenian community. Armenians living in Norway are few in number and are spread all across the country, therefore it is difficult to establish an Armenian school.

Harutyunyan says they want to organize Armenian language courses in Norway, and also establish Armenian dance studios.

Commenting on tourism matters, Harutyunyan says only two small travel agencies offer tour packages to Armenia.

“It is mainly us Armenians that inspire our European friends to visit Armenia. We had guests from Norway at my wedding, which took place in Armenia”, she said, adding that after returning to Norway their guests were speaking about Armenia with admiration.

Speaking about the Artsakh and Armenian Genocide issues, Harutyunyan said there is no big centralization regarding Artsakh in Norway. But in terms of the Armenian Genocide, she said both the church and cultural communities regularly bring up the matter on various occasions. Narine Harutyunyan noted that the society in Norway has low awareness on the issue. Even the textbooks, in which the WW 1 is taught, don’t mention the Armenian Genocide.

“We try to inform our Norwegian colleagues about it. We had tried to raise the issue of the Armenian Genocide in relevant bodies, but we didn’t succeed because of interference of the Turkish Embassy. I would like to mention that the Christian Democratic Party of Norway is the only party which has recognized the genocide, internally. And we know that if we succeed in raising the issue in the Parliament then we will have endorsers”, she said. Kragero is the first municipality of Norway to recognize the Armenian Genocide – thanks to Bodil Catharina Biorn.

Every year on April 24, the Armenian community visits the memorials of Fridtjof Nansen and Bodil Biorn, lays flowers for the memory of the 1,5 million victims.

A torchlight procession took place during the 100th anniversary events, a mass was held with officials, clergymen and others in attendance.

Anna Gziryan

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