Interview with Ara Abramyan

Ara Abramyan, Head of the Nigeria-Russia Business Council, spoke to Russia Today about what measures are need to gain the release of the Russian hostages in Nigeria.

Russia Today: It is not the first time that Russians were held hostage in Nigeria. As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador you were involved in efforts to secure the release of the twelve Russian sailors after nearly two years in a Nigerian jail in 2005. In your opinion, what methods of negotiations will be used to try and release the hostages?

Ara Abramyan: Yes, I dealt with the matter in 2005, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asked me to do that. But that was a bit of a different situation, I would say. Then the people were in a state jail and it was necessary just to work out a mechanism in order to free them. Now it is different. We have to be very cautious because we are talking about human lives. We have to set up a coordination centre, gather all the information in one place, learn more about how it all happened and then involve the necessary mechanisms.

RT: And what obstacles will face those trying to get the hostages freed?

A.A.: It is highly important that if we have a co-ordination centre we will analyse all the events and will be ready for any kind of event, and we will act proceeding from what we have. Everybody should be involved: today we have many international contacts, both official and non-official, and possibilities. I was engaged in establishing those contacts for about three months then, back in 2005, and we have links to non-governmental organisations and simply highly respected people. We should involve all these contacts to help in the current situation.

RT: Russian Ambassador to Nigeria Igor Melikhov, says foreign workers are being kidnapped for ransom weekly in the troubled south of the country. Do you think they have been abducted for ransom or might there be political or some other motives?

A.A.: Whatever the reason could be, these are our citizens and we must free them. Trying to guess today the reason for kidnapping would be wrong. This question needs to be carefully investigated. After that maybe it will be possible to say something more concrete. Now the main principle is not to cause any harm to the hostages.

RT: How long do you think it may take to resolve the situation?

A.A.: I must say that we are very pressed for the time but at the same time we should not make haste. We know about the events in Iraq, and though Nigeria is not the same as Iraq, we should be very cautious. The earlier we free them, the better. There should be agreement among all the participants of this work, and the united coordination centre. The sailors in Nigeria were freed because all the actions were coordinated with one single person, then it was Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Now we also need such a person to coordinate the whole case, and then we will have the maximum of possibilities, not to talk but to work and take actions. And after everything has finished, then we will tell how it was all being done.