Armenian NGOs urge the UN not to move the UNDP Regional Office to Istanbul

The representatives of the civil society of Armenia have addressed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with regard to the possible transfer of the UNDP European Regional Office from Bratislava, Slovakia, to Istanbul, Turkey.

The letter runs as follows:

“We consider inappropriate, unethical and inexpedient to ensure the regional office of such an important organization as is the United Nations Development Program to a country that:

–         has committed genocide – the genocide against Armenians living on their own historic motherlands, and parts of the Ottoman Empire, that started in Istanbul on April 24, 1915. Turkey committed also massacres of other national minorities, including Greeks and Assyrians. All of these crimes are until today blatantly denied by the Turkish authorities, despite the fact that the Armenian Genocide of 1915 has been recognized and condemned by a number of UN member states;

–         for over 20 years has been keeping Armenia’s land borders under a blockade that has tremendous negative impact on the Armenian economy, thus cutting Armenia’s, as a landlocked country, closest access to the sea;

–         regardless of all the protests has preserved Article 301 of the Criminal Code, which restricts the freedom of speech and the rights of national minorities, Moreover, intolerance towards national minorities is officially stimulated and leads to intermittent inside conflicts and assassinations of representatives of national minorities, including the murder of prominent public figures, such as the well-known reporter of Armenian origin Hrant Dink;

–         has no diplomatic relations with countries in the region, including countries that are in the UNDP Bratislava Regional center jurisdiction. This fact will be a major hindrance to the participation of Armenia, including the non-governmental organizations’ delegations in the activities of the UNDP.

–         and finally, is located in a less stable region, given the armed conflict in Turkey’s neighboring countries and the continuing problems of Turkey with the states of the region, as well.

It is quite obvious that in the event of the transfer of UNDP Regional Center to Turkey, its efficiency and its cooperation and its cooperation with the countries of the regional will immensely decrease.

We realize that the financial support to UNDP by Turkey is significant, however, UN has always demonstrated its adherence to priorities of justice and fairness and human rights above all other priorities including the financial ones.

We hope that the United Nations will stay committed to its principles and will take into account the aforementioned obstacles and risks in regards to the possible transfer of UNDP Regional center to Turkey.”

The letter was signed by a number of NGOs that actively cooperate with the UN structures.

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