Garik Papoyan: “The homeland is the soul of every Armenian-as long as a person is living, the soul is also living”

Young Armenians of Abkhazia, under the leadership of head of the cultural organization of the Armenian community of Abkhazia Garik Papoyan, are participating in the sixth stage of the 2016 “Ari Tun” Program of the RA Ministry of Diaspora. Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with the participants.

Hayern Aysor: Garik, before we talk about the program, let’s touch upon the Armenian dance group of Abkhazia, which participated in and performed during the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival.

Garik Papoyan: I am from the city of Gagra of Abkhazia. I represent the Armenian community of Abkhazia and am the artistic director of the local culture home. I represented the Ani Dance Ensemble of Abkhazia, which did its best to give beautiful performances on stages in Armenia. However, not all members of the dance group were in Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: Which dance companies gave the most impressive performances?

G. P.: I admired the wonderful and professional performances of the dance companies of Argentina. Living in a country that is so far from Armenia, the Armenians of Argentina have managed to create such ensembles and have reached a high level of professionalism through hard work. The dance group of Saint Petersburg had rehearsed well, and the Armenian dance ensemble of Estonia was also impressive. I must say that all the participating dance groups and ensembles had worked hard to be presentable in front of Armenian audiences and the other dance companies. For us, this festival was also a unique test. Any performance on any stage serves as an opportunity for singers, musicians or dance companies to show themselves. I thank the RA Ministry of Diaspora. These kinds of programs help enhance cultural life of Armenians abroad and strengthen the partnership between Armenia and the Diaspora.

Hayern Aysor: Garik, how many Armenian children and youth of Abkhazia are participating in the sixth stage of the “Ari Tun” Program?

G. P.: There are 13 children and youth, including me. The group includes 13-15-year-olds, of which only two have been in Armenia before. The rest of them are visiting the Homeland for the first time ever. I personally visited Armenia in 2015 to participate in the torch-lit march dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

Hayern Aysor: What is the Armenian community of Abkhazia like?

G. P.: It is a strong and united community of Armenians. The Armenians of Hamshen are very patriotic. The head of the community Khachik Minasyan and one of the active members of the community Syuzan Tovmasyan help us a lot and support all cultural events.

Hayern Aysor: Where would you prefer to live and work for the rest of your life-in Abkhazia or Armenia?

G. P.: I was born and raised in Abkhazia. My parents and grandparents were born in Abkhazia, but I have always had the sense of the Homeland. I know I have a citadel by the name of Armenia. I am not married yet, but I will only get married to an Armenian girl. I will provide my children with an Armenian upbringing. My children must read, write and speak in Armenian. I love Armenia and the beautiful Yerevan, but I still don’t intend to leave Gagra where I have spent my childhood and teenage years. I am simply always in touch with my Homeland. It is the soul of every Armenian, regardless of geographical area. As long as a person is living, the soul is also living.

Interview by Karine Avagyan

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