Asset 3


End of content No more pages to load

Your search did not match any articles

Hrant Gadarigian

Sardarapat Round-Table: Tapping Into the Resources of the Diaspora

I just got back from an interesting roundtable discussion organized by the Sardarapat Movement regarding the potential of the Armenian diaspora, why Armenia must craft state policy designed to tap into it, and the possibility of doing so.

The speakers noted that Armenia, given its current economic situation and unclear prospects for future socio-economic and development, faces the imperative of tapping into the resources that the diaspora possesses.

These, as yet unutilized resources, are not confined to the economic sphere alone buy spread to such fields as public governance, the judicial and legal systems, culture, the arts and civic community organizing.

Harutyun  Mesrobyan, a specialist in governance, opened the discussion regarding the concept of a “Ոսգե հիմնադրամ” to spur drastic development, cited the examples of Ireland and Israel, two nations that have targeted their diaspora on a state policy level to tap the material and mental resources they possess.

He asked why Armenia has not done the same. Referring to Ireland, Mesrobyan noted that when Ireland decided to call on its diaspora in terms of IT development, they received three types of responses.

Some hyphenated Irish decided to physically return to Ireland, others chose to assist from their new host countries, while another group rejected the offer outright.

The question to be posed here is whether past and present Armenian governments have comprehended the need to reach out to the diaspora, and if not, why.

Mesrobyan noted the paradox existent in Armenian governance today – the higher the ranking of the appointed or elected official; the less likely it is for that person to have moral, ethical, and professional qualities.

It seems to this observer that whatever the current Armenian administration in Yerevan is doing is of a piecemeal nature and more show than substance.

The next speaker, Garo Yeghnukyan, a senior fellow of Law and Governance, spoke about the need for Armenians from the outside the country to return (ներգաղթ).

Yeghnukyan noted that emigration to Armenia would solve several problems simultaneously – assimilation in the diaspora, a worsening demographic situation in Armenia, business development, etc.

He spoke of the need to target various sectors in the diaspora who would be most likely to return if the necessary conditions were created.

The speaker proposed that diaspora investors band together in order to more effectively defend their interest in Armenia. He also talked about targeting the youth of the diasapora along the lines of the kibbutz movement in Israel.

Such an initiative would need the backing of the Armenian government and would require a number of basic conditions to be met. Land would have to be appropriated, say a deserted village, communications and basic utilities provided, tax breaks offered and citizenship granted.

The third speaker, systems analyst and IT specialist Garegin Choukasyan, noted that an immigration movement on the level of the late 1940s cannot be repeated in Armenia before certain taboos are demolished.

Choukasyan argued that any return must be based on a conscious decision to do so, fully aware of the pitfalls and problems awaiting those that do.

He talked about the concept of a “spiritual” as opposed to a “physical return”.

A lively Q&A session followed the panellists’ presentations.

If we believe that the diaspora factor is a vital one for the long-term development prospects in Armenia, the question we must tackle is how to organize such bride building.

I, and others so concerned, have broached this theme elsewhere in the past. It requires on-going effort and dedication on a number of levels since the task is immense and strewn with hurdles.

This challenge is made all the more difficult given that neither official Yerevan nor the traditional diasporic apparatus is unwilling or incapable of discussing and implementing such a framework of cross pollination.

It remains for individuals and civic organizations on both sides of the divide to finally step up to the plate and formulize such a plan of action.

Hopefully, this evening’s round-table was a step in the right direction.

Write a comment

Hetq does not publish comments containing offensive language or personal attacks. Please criticize content, not people. And please use "real" names, not monikers. Thanks again for following Hetq.
If you found a typo you can notify us by selecting the text area and pressing CTRL+Enter