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Hrant Gadarigian

1st Pan-Armenian Conference – Getting Past the Patriotic Rhetoric

Yesterday, in Yerevan, President Serzh Sargsyan welcomed hundred of representatives from 151 unnamed Diaspora organizations attending the first Pan-Armenian conference.

Not much is known about the aims of the Conference other than what we read in the president’s opening address - “to promote the development of Armenia-Spyurk cooperation for the benefit of the Armenian nation’s peaceful and prosperous future.”

A lofty goal indeed. But how does this conclave differ from similar conferences in the past that set out similar goals of coordinated action between these two hugely dissimilar realities - the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora.

President Sargsyan, in his speech, said that “The Armenian nation is bonded together with its national aspirations and Armenia’s destiny.”

He spoke of the need of both these realities to complement each other, to nurture one another.

Who would argue with such sentiments?

The underlying questions remains – does the political will exist on both sides of the equation to find common ground on which to cooperate and collaborate?

Can undefined national aspirations and cookie-cutter patriotic sloganeering serve as a real basis for joint action? Is it enough to state that “we are all brothers and sisters” so let’s roll up our sleeves and work for the common good?

Who’s common good? Those in positions of power in Armenia today?

Nowhere in President Sargsyan’s speech did I come across the ideals of “democracy”, “equal opportunity” or the “rule of law”.

You would have thought that these cornerstones for peaceful and prosperous development would have been singled out at least once in the president’s vision of what type of Armenia we all want.

Rather, he singled out the increasingly marginalized role that western Armenian plays in the lives of Armenians living in the Diaspora. President Sargsyan even promised those at the conference that his government   “will do our best to support the Western Armenian literary language.”

Does he have a magic wand to bring back the writers and intellectuals of the pre-1915 Armenian national renaissance – the Tourian’s, Sevag’s, Siamanto’s and countless others writing in western Armenian?

Can he go against the tide of history and recreate the Armenian communities of the Middle East where literary western Armenian was at least holding its own – where the likes of Hagop Oshagan and other taught in Armenian educational institutions many of which now longer exist or lack students.

Just remember what happened to the Melkonian Institute in Cyprus!

All this patriotic posturing reminds me of Hranoush Hakobyan, the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, when she railed against mixed marriages in the Diaspora and her desire to stem the resulting tide of assimilation.

Luckily, she came to her senses and dropped the issue like a hot potato.

Framing any analysis on Armenia’s future prospects for “peace and prosperity” on such outmoded concepts and conceptualizations is a formula for failure – pure and simple.

There’s a lack of critical thinking here that stymies any prospect for real change in the Armenia-Diaspora dynamic.

The conference organizers may boast that they have succeeded in “gathering 550 representatives from 46 states who represent 151 Armenian organizations of Diaspora”, but whether or not they have the courage and conviction to “think outside the box” remains to be seen.

Let’s hope they do.

Comments (6)

Gevorg Novshadyan
I live in Los Angeles and it shocks me how much the new Armenian generation here has lost all sense of what it means to be an Armenian. Is it just me or is the rabiz gaghapar taking over. Unless, we act fast and take back all our lands, reinstate one culture, on language, and one religion ideals, eliminate all foreign cultural influences, especially from America, then the Turks have achieved what they wanted to do which is make us forget who we are, abandon our country altogether, and get mixed in other cultures while we dont give a rats butt about oours.
It's just another smokescreen to say - hey look Armenians in the Spyurk we government officials in Yerevan share your pain, just keep sending us money to pocket and squander. What the F--K can the RA government do to stem mixed marriages in the Spyurk or to restore western Armenian to the level that existed pre-1915?? Voch Mi Ban!!! Get real people. Armenians in the diaspora are doomed to assimilate. Let the RA government start improving conditions at home, in conjunction with the diaspora, so that 1) people in Armenia stop leaving and 2) more Armenians in the diaspora will seriously consider moving there. If this is complaining then excuse me for opening your eyes to the truth of the matter.
Incidentally, I am sure Mr. (or Ms) Mahmoozian loves Hayastan as much as any of us and because of it, as many others, is frustrated of the situation in Hayastan.
Complain, complain and complain. Complain even when they try to do something good or say right things. What's wrong with attempt to preserve Western Armenian language or prevent assimilation through mixed marriages? Never mind that bringing together Armenians from different organizations from all over the world gives unique opportunity to meet, interact and exchange ideas. Never mind that something good may come out of it. I don't mind about constructive criticism but nothing annoys me more than just criticism for the sake of criticism. It's one thing when criticism is backed with explanation and facts and offers better solutions but it's different when people criticize when they cant offer anything else.
Sorry Mahmoozian, which holy-land you live in?
the president the prime minister and the catholikos should ask heqht news. the list off the crooks in governement.prosecut them put them in jail confiscatet there stolen goods and then ask the diaspora to invest in armenia .haistan haiastan is no good anymore people in the diaspora are tired of your bull shit it is a governement of crooks for the crooks.

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