The 25 years of Armenian Independence-Hranush Hakobyan

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia, Hayern Aysor presents its interview with Acting Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, you were born and raised and carried out your public and political activities in Soviet Armenia and have served as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Armenian Lenin Communist Youth Union. As an official and as an Armenian, did you ever think that Armenia would become an independent country?

Hranush Hakobyan: Independence is a supreme value, and it is something that our nation has aspired to achieve for centuries. It has been a dream for every generation of Armenians, regardless of the social order in which they have been.

I was born to and raised in a family of scholars and pedagogues where Armenia, the Armenians and the feeling of patriotism were above everything else. At an early age, we would learn about Mashtots, Khorenatsi, Narekatsi and Kuchak. Very often, my father would bring home unprinted works in spite of the closed system in the Soviet era. When he would bring the banned books home, he would give me and my siblings a special assignment and say the following: “Make sure nobody knows about this.” We would greedily read all the books.

I was in the fifth grade when people started disseminating the unprinted poems of Shiraz in Armenia. At the time, I didn’t understand what was “printed” and what was “unprinted”. Once again, my father brought home a package of unprinted poems of Shiraz. Since I had a special love for recitation, I immediately learned the poem “Yot’e Bour Mokhir” (Sevan Handfuls of Ashes). After a while, I recited that poem at a recitation competition in Gavar.

…When I die, burn me,

but take seven handfuls of my ashes and

pour them on the seven sides of my doorless Armenia.

Pour the first handful on the

chest of the imprisoned Masis,

so that I become mixed with its great heart,

and the heart of my hope becomes relieved.

If not, as a lamb tied far away from its mother,

I will die from longing, if I don’t merge with Ararat…

I recited the poem, not knowing what kind of danger the meaning and significance of the words of that poem could present. I was always an excellent student and would often receive awards. This time, I didn’t receive any award at the Olympiad and came home crying. In the evening, my mother, who was a school director, was very tense and afraid when she came home. She called me, hugged me and said the following: “My girl, what did you recite at the competition today?” When I told her what I had recited and complained that I didn’t receive any award, she kissed my forehead and said: “My child, don’t ever recite that again. If you do, they will arrest your father.”

I became horrified, and I kept remembering my mother’s words. Only years later did I find out that on that same day, the regional committee of the Communist Party had called my mother and given her a good “lesson”. The relevant authorities had called my father and demanded an explanation about how was it that his fifth grade chid had recited the unprinted poem of Shiraz.

Growing up and being raised in such a family, it is natural that everything about Armenia and the Armenians would have an impact on my life.

The fact that you were compelled to “imprison” many things inside of you and wait for an appropriate occasion or opportunity due to the times was another story, and very often you would secretly take steps or actions that expressed your inner impulse.

In my life, I have been guided by and live the impersonal life of Metsarents, turning the words of wisdom of Tekeyan (“What stayed with me in life…was what I gave to others, strange”) and Tumanyan (“What you do is eternal, know it well…”) into a reality…I believe that Armenia will be a powerful country in the future.

Hayern Aysor: If we try to go back 25 years, what events and moments of those historic days do you remember? Could you share your feelings and emotions with our readers?

H. H.: The Karabakh movement was the basis on which the idea of our independence was born. When flyers about Armenia’s declaration of independence were being distributed on the streets, we were afraid of those flyers because the idea was so strange to us. The public matured, step-by-step, day after day simply because the just movement for Karabakh started being repressed and unacceptable events took place. Even the Soviet army tried to harm our people, and I am not even talking about Sumgait. All this made the people realize that the state in which we were living was no longer capable of protecting the population.

I have also seen the struggle that was being led behind the curtains. I have seen how our leaders were trying to convince and explain the central committee that the demand of the nation was just and that there had to be a fair solution to the Karabakh issue. I have seen the blows that were caused to the leaders of our country. They were in a situation that they couldn’t get out of. On the one side, you had the people. On the other side, you had the central committee.

The greatest achievement that was made during those days was that, unlike several countries of the USSR, including Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia where there were civil wars and bloodshed for the separation of powers, Armenia chose the civilized path, and the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power were separated without any clashes. This was the greatest achievement of the first parliament.

In the early 1990s, Armenian political figures and parliamentarians managed to shift the country to the stage of independence without great convulsions.

Independence didn’t come easy. There were many obstacles and difficulties on the road.

As for the 21st of September 1991, on that day, I was in Gavar with Mihran Dabag (currently a Professor of the Univesity of Bokhumi, founding director of the Institute for Diaspora and Genocide, Professor-ed.) and Tsolak Harutyunyan. The German Confederation had sent them to follow the process of the referendum as observers. I remember how surprised they were to see the motivation of the people and how the people would very often come to the polling stations with the Armenian dhol and zurna musical instruments and unanimously say “yes” to independence. We all understood that we were going to win with a referendum, and almost everyone was sleepless all night long. Everyone was very happy and feeling festive as they received information from the polling stations.

The results of the pan-national referendum were announced during the session of the Supreme Council on September 23, after which the historic decision on the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia was adopted. Babken Ararktsyan announced the results of the referendum from the high podium in parliament, Deputy Aram Manukyan read the decision of the Supreme Council of Armenia on the Independence of the Republic of Armenia, and the decision helped pave the way to independence with the blessing of Catholicos of All Armenians Vazgen I gave his blessing.

There were endless rounds of applause from the deputies. We were standing and giving a standing ovation for a long time. Words can’t describe what we were feeling at that moment. Each of us felt free, independent and proud and was aware of being the owner of our country. We were going to be the full-fledged owners of our state and country and were going to build our Homeland, the Free and Independent Republic of Armenia with the right of an owner.

This was the main and motiving force that was in the air during those days and had encircled the deputies, officials and average citizens. That “force” spread towards the Armenian Diaspora, and the Armenian Diaspora immediately burst out. The dream that Diaspora Armenians had had for 70 consecutive years, had finally come true.

Twenty five years ago, well-known scholars and intellectuals also made calls and statements favoring independence. I also have brilliant memories of Vardges Petrosyan, who was a deputy of the Supreme Council at the time. We were discussing and asking each other what was going on in the Diaspora (after all, we didn’t have the menas of communication that we have now, and we could only ask them about their feelings over the telephone). When I returned home in the evening, the first call I received was from Rita and Vartkes Balian from Washington DC. Rita was crying tears of joy and exclaiming the following: “Is it true that our Armenia is now independent?”

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, it is no secret that carrying out national activities and advancing the national identity in the former USSR required great courage. There are many cases in history. Today, times have changed. How have the goals and visions of Armenian political figures changed in the current stage of development of the state?

H. H.: The type of person who works and serves the homeland will try to help his country and people, regardless of the era and social order in which he is living. The important thing is for that person to have goals, and to achieve them, he must never stop learning and never feel depressed when facing an obstacle.

In the closed system of the Soviet era, I took steps that I have never been ashamed of. Moreover, I am proud of my past because I have taken action and left a trace. It was both an honor and responsibility for a young Armenian girl to lead a 700,000-member youth organization of Soviet Armenia. Until then, I had been the leader of the 10,000-member Youth Communist Union of Yerevan State University. At the university, we would always organize spring events for students and a festival of political songs. We also had a small academy and teachers’ squads. Yerevan State University would win all the competitions. The years that I spent working for the Central Committee of the Armenian Lenin Communist Youth Union were the most difficult since we were experiencing the most difficult times-the earthquake and the elimination of its consequences and the Karabakh movement, in which the youth participated unconditionally.

I also take pride in the fact that those youth with whom I worked during those years, completely took the first burdens of the earthquake on their shoulders and went on to become the freedom fighters of the Karabakh movement and heroes of the war.

It is natural that people who had expressed themselves during the Soviet era would come and try to dedicate themselves to nation-building. In 1990, I was one of the youngest deputies in the parliament of the newly independent Armenia.

I would like to remind that I became the leader of the Armenian Lenin Communist Youth Union when Gorbachev’s Perestroika (reformation) and Glasnost (openness) had begun. The compressing apparatus that functioned before me no longer existed. Moreover, freedom was especially granted to the youth organization that I was leading. Those years were dramatic, difficult and tragic and brought honor.

Those years were followed by the establishment of independence. Many were afraid of changes. One should welcome changes, not be afraid of them. The 25 years of independence made us more solid and more responsible. We had ups-and-downs, made achievements and suffered losses, but we didn’t deviate from the main direction, that is, the establishment of a social, legal and democratic state.

Times have changed. We are living in a free and independent country, and the future of Armenia depends on each and every one of us.

Today, the doctrine of Nzhdeh, that is, placing the state and the homeland above everything else, must be the benchmark for every Armenian political figure. As for the vision, the vision must be to create a Strong Armenia.

Hayern Aysor: Who or what symbolizes independence for you?

H. H.: For me, the symbol of independence is first and foremost the Armenian Army, which is strong and invincible. The peace and stability in Armenia and Artsakh is first and foremost conditioned by the strong and potent Armenian army. For 25 years, we have been able to build our country, grow, move forward and achieve international recognition thanks to the will and courage of our officers and soldiers. Our army is truly very spiritually strong, and evidence of that are the several victories that it has achieved.

Young Diaspora Armenian men also fought in the Armenian army. They managed to leave everything behind, went to the trenches, took weapons and defended our homeland along with the sons of Armenia and Artsakh.

The Armenian soldiers of our days are the bravest. I take pride in their bravery, their determination to give the adversary the response it deserves, their willingness to defend the integrity of Armenia’s borders and their courage.

The Armenian army is our nation’s greatest achievement, and the entire nation, including the Armenian Diaspora needs to support and stand by the side of the army.

Hayern Aysor: I would like to ask a question that everyone asks nowadays. What do you think are the major and important achievements made after Independence?

H. H.: Today, we Armenians can proudly say that we have two independent republics, that is, the Republic of Armenia and the Artsakh Republic, which are remnant values that we have shaped throughout the past 25 years.

Another major achievement is the fact that the relations between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora entered a new stage of development following Armenia’s declaration of independence. The declaration of independence made Armenians abroad feel very excited. Due to closed borders, only a dozen Diaspora Armenians were able to visit the homeland a year. The first joy of independence was that every Armenian could visit Armenia without any difficulty.

Diaspora Armenians started consolidating around the homeland and using their human and material resources, contacts and potential for the pro-national act of helping the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic develop. After Armenia’s declaration of independence, the Armenian Diaspora, which was mainly struggling and consolidating for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and a solution to the Armenian Cause, also set the assistance to Armenia and Artsakh as its key objective.

During the years of independence of the Republic of Armenia, Armenia and the Diaspora combined their efforts and helped each other build a nation. The Republic of Armenia became an entity of international law, and the people of Artsakh are shaping their independent state. Armenia is a member to dozens of international organizations and has chosen democracy as the path for development. It has constitutionally recognized man as the supreme value and is shaping a civil society. An attempt has been made to take advantage of the potential of Diaspora Armenians the right way as much as possible in these processes.

For 25 years, all Armenians combined their efforts and helped build a free and independent country, established democratic grounds and bodies for state administration, formed the most efficient army in the region, liberalized the economy, created a civil society, and Armenia became a full-fledged member of the international community.

The relations between Armenia and the Diaspora are growing deeper and deeper, and pan-Armenian organizations are able to consolidate the nation around primary issues of national concern. The Armenian Diaspora has become the continuity, competitive advantage and security component of the Republic of Armenia. The Armenian Diaspora is also eternally present in Armenia and is an integral part of the Armenian reality today.

The pan-Armenian goals and pan-national priorities have become more crystal clear throughout the past 25 years. The priorities are: building a safe and strong Armenia, ensuring the independence and security of Artsakh, having an organized Armenian Diaspora, the Armenian language as a guarantee for the preservation of the Armenian identity, struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide after 100 years, consolidation around the Armenian Church and ensuring the security of Armenians in states of emergency, by which every Armenian needs to be guided.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, nothing is built in a day, and it is obvious that Armenia has also had flaws throughout the years. What haven’t we been able to do over the past 25 years?

H. H.: Unfortunately, the past 25 years have been years of many obstacles and difficulties. On the one hand, the people have built a country in dire conditions. On the other hand, they have been compelled to fight against the hostile actions of the insidious and unpredictable adversary. Even if we record the objective problems (foreign challenges, economic crises, military situations, refugees, unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict), nevertheless, Armenia still faces many issues that remain unresolved.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the blockade, the injustice and intolerance, the slow process of eliminating corruption, the imperfections of the system of governance and the disproportionate economic developments in the provinces essentially hinder Armenia’s advancement.

The experience gained throughout the past 25 years and the need for social, political and economic development led to constitutional reforms. This process will qualitatively change the system of governance and is aimed at building a legal state where man and his rights will be supreme values, everyone will be equal before the law, the judicial system will be free, the parliament will be elected by the will of the people and there will be rule of law.

The government is taking all possible measures to build a strong Armenia, making efforts to ensure free and equal economic competition, use the nation’s capital reasonably, create an attractive atmosphere for business and encourage investments.

The change of the system of governance, the clear-cut separation of responsibilities of the branches of power, the constitutional guarantees granted to the opposition, the steps promoting the activism of civil society and the use of the potential of Diaspora Armenians will lead to the strengthening of the foundations of a legal and democratic state.

Only through collective force will we be able to turn the homeland into a developed and prosperous country. Only through unity will we be able to resist all kinds of challenges. Only together will we be able to become a collectivity fighting for the reinforcement of the homeland and supporting national statehood and the army. Our force lies in our unity.

The Armenian people need to set the current key objective, that is, to empower the Republic of Armenia, and this needs to be done with the participation of each and every Armenian. Only by turning our country into the homeland that we all dream of will we be able to have a stronger and more organized Diaspora. Only by having a strong homeland will Diaspora Armenians feel safer, prouder and more protected.

Unfortunately, there are still unacceptable phenomena, and we are trying to fight against them.

We need to be a little more patient. Look, compared to Azerbaijan, which has great material wealth, Armenia is more highly appreciated by international bodies from the perspective of democracy and civilization. Of course, this comparison is a comparison with republics that have been a part of the former USSR.

For over 600 years (not counting our first, but short-lived republic), we Armenians have never had statehood and have lived under the yoke of foreigners, and this has obviously had an impact on our image, activities and existence in general. Only in the past 25 years have we had the opportunity to be independent and have a system of governance. Naturally, we need time to shake off the negative influences that we have been under throughout centuries. We need to be patient so that we can shape a strong Homeland together.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia is also a major achievement for the Third Republic of Armenia. What new quality did the Ministry convey to Armenia-Diaspora relations?

H. H.: Since 2008, the partnership between Armenia and the Diaspora has entered a new stage due to the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. As a part of the political platform of the President of the Republic of Armenia, the Ministry of Diaspora drafted Armenia’s state policy on the Armenian Diaspora, a concept paper on and strategic plan for the development of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership that are successfully being implemented through the support and consolidation and with the participation of the relevant structures and organizations of the Armenian Diaspora. Without the consent and partnership of Diaspora Armenian organizations, the activities and the implementation of new programs and projects of the Ministry would be impossible. Today, a new quality has been conveyed to the Armenia-Diaspora partnership, for which there are new forms and approaches.

The Ministry was established based on the appropriateness of the moment, and it is already a fact that this Ministry should have been established in 1991. When Armenia declared its independence in 1991, Armenians were so happy and excited that they didn’t know what to do. The people wanted to unite as one and make investments in Armenia, but there was no coordinating boy. Today, it is safe to say that there is a body that tries to consolidate the potential of Diaspora Armenians and help them solve all issues.

The President of the Republic of Armenia set forth the following three strategic objectives for the RA Ministry of Diaspora:

1. To contribute to the preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora, develop specific programs and projects to preserve the Armenian identity and assist in the fight against assimilation in the Diaspora;

2. To identify and consolidate the potential of Diaspora Armenians and use that potential for Armenia’s economic development;

3. To develop programs that can promote repatriation.

Compared to other ministries, as a state administration body, the RA Ministry of Diaspora has peculiarities when it comes to working with Diaspora Armenians. The RA Ministry of Diaspora doesn’t manage the Diaspora and doesn’t work with Diaspora Armenians through orders and instructions. It can’t impose demands on Diaspora Armenians or give an assignment to any Diaspora Armenian organization or individual.

The policy on the Armenia-Diaspora partnership is primarily hinged on the establishment and development of partnership, mutual trust and mutual understanding, and this policy is implemented by benchmarking new perspectives for development through dialogue, mutual respect, mutual concessions and mutual agreement.

The objective of the Ministry of Diaspora is to organize activities with the Armenian Diaspora under the principle of “Know, Trust and Cooperate”.

Throughout the eight years of its existence, the Ministry of Diaspora has organized about 100 professional forums, conferences, meetings, reunions and roundtable discussions, created 13 pan-Armenian professional unions, associations and organizations in order to reinforce the relations between experts, create programs that will be helpful for Armenia and make investments.

The goal of all the programs of the Ministry of Diaspora is to preserve the Armenian identity and language, recognize the Homeland and use the potential of Diaspora Armenians for the advancement of Armenia and the solution to pan-national issues on the agenda. Throughout the years, Diaspora Armenians have participated in many programs, including the “Ari Tun” Program, the “Diaspora” Summer School Program, the “My Armenia” Pan-Armenian Festival, the “Our Greats” Program, the pan-Armenian professional forums and conferences and the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, competitions, award ceremonies and more.

Thanks to the programs of the Ministry of Diaspora, many young Diaspora Armenians are continuing their education at different universities of Armenia, and many others have started families in the homeland. For the young participants of the programs, Armenia has become a special place to gather. For some reasons, many youth used to be detached from the Armenian identity. Thanks to the programs, they returned to their roots and can’t imagine their lives without Armenia and the Armenian language. Islamized Armenians have also participated in the programs of the Ministry of Diaspora.

I am glad that Diaspora Armenians are starting to believe in the work that we do. We have compatriots and organizations that are very excited about our activities and help us implement our programs. If the Diaspora doesn’t respond or support us, many programs won’t be implemented since the object of our activities is the ideological basis of unity for the Homeland-Diaspora partnership.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, the problem of the families having moved from Sumgait, Baku, Iraq and Syria to Armenia was a serious challenge for the young Armenian state. How did our state manage to overcome that challenge?

H. H.: Over the past 25 years, there have been three imposed repatriations to Armenia. The first was the devastating deportation of Armenians from Sumgait and Baku, as a result of which about 400,000 Armenians moved to Armenia. It was a dramatic era when Armenia was wounded and in sorrow because of the earthquake that struck Spitak in 1988. Between 1991 and 1995, the independence of the Armenian State was being established. They were difficult years. Almost 40 percent of the country had collapsed after the earthquake, and we were in a state of war. The country faced an energy crisis during which people would only have electricity for two hours, and many people couldn’t resist. Out of the 400,000 migrants, only tens of thousands settle in Armenia, while others became scattered across the globe.

The second wave of repatriation or deportation rose after the events in Iraq. Between 2001 and 2003, nearly 2,000 Iraqi-Armenians settled in Armenia, but only several dozens of them or 100-200 people stayed in Armenia. The government didn’t create the necessary conditions for them, and they left.

The third is the immigration of Syrian-Armenians. By the assignment of RA President Serzh Sargsyan, the RA Ministry of Diaspora is in charge of coordinating the solutions to the issues of Syrian-Armenians who have moved to Armenia. In the summer of 2012, the Ministry established a task force that would be in charge of solving the Syrian-Armenians’ issues.

In 2013, the Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues was established by the decision of the RA Prime Minister and is currently operating. From August 2012 to September 2016, the Inter-Agency Commission on Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues has held 35 sessions, discussed over 120 issues, identified the key issues and developed mechanisms for the solution to those issues.

To support the Syrian-Armenians, amendments have been made to the laws of the Republic of Armenia, the decisions of the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the acts of several government agencies. Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia is granted to Syrian-Armenians through a simplified procedure. Out of the Syrian-Armenians residing in Armenia, nearly 13,000 have acquired Armenian citizenship, and 1,800 have residency statuses.

Syrian-Armenians have established four non-governmental organizations that are in charge of carrying out all the charity programs (distribution of food, clothes, funds, domestic items, etc.).

It is safe to say that the efforts for the Syrian-Armenians’ social, linguistic and educational integration have been made. The effective actions for economic integration continue in order to help create necessary living conditions for them.

Our objective is to put all the possible mechanisms into practice so that we can finally solve the issue of repatriation for many Syrian-Armenians and help them integrate into Armenian society quickly. Every Syrian-Armenian must know that there is one address to go to when moving from Syria, and that is the Republic of Armenia.

Today, Syrian-Armenians are quite active and have their small and medium businesses. It is safe to say that they are our best workers. They are modest, smart and organized and introduced a new culture of working.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, in your opinion, what is the difference between 25-year-old Armenians today and 25-year-old Armenians back then?

H. H.: Youth are always more progressive and more literate than the generation before them.

I spent my younger years in Soviet Armenia. I was a member of the Communist Youth Union, which served as a school that would shape the youth and help them carry out activities. I have never regretted being a member and later leader of the union. As I already mentioned, the members of the Communist Youth Union were mainly the youth who found the courage to start the Karabakh movement. They were the youth who had been members of the Communist Youth Union and managed to win the war, ensuring and laying the foundations for our independence.

Armenian youth today think freely and are growing up without constraints. We have brilliant youth who can compete with youth in any part of the world with their knowledge and ideas. I am glad that there are many ladies and women engaged in public life. Women and mothers are the ones who provide the members of the society with an upbringing. So, the more educated and literate a woman is, the more educated the society will be.

We need to give Armenian youth space and motivate them so that they have a chance to express themselves. The youth are our present and future.

Just recently, those youth also proved that they are the owners of this country and the full-fledged defenders. During the four-day Artsakh war, with weapons in their hands, they not only participated in the defense of their country’s borders, died conscientiously and ensured our peace and freedom, but also “forced” all Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora to stand up, unite and look towards the homeland.

The 18-20-year-olds gave the spark that can burn all that presents a danger to our homeland and our right to live freely.

They were the youth who stood up, “forced” us to set our differences aside and unite around Armenia.

During those days, Diaspora Armenians had stood up and felt ready to provide material and financial assistance, as well as exert moral and political pressure on their authorities to suspend Azerbaijan’s aggression and solve the issue related to the right of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination through peaceful methods. The Defense Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declared that there were even Diaspora Armenians who had jointed the boys defending the border.

At the moment of danger, the Armenian Diaspora becomes more organized, and it wasn’t by chance that the main mottos during the days of April were “We are Artsakh” and “We must defend Armenia hand-in-hand”.

On this holiday, I bow my head in memory of every Armenian soldier and hero who sacrificed his love to maintain our independence. Today Armenian soldiers are the ones facing the enemy and defending Armenia and Artsakh. Today I feel proud of our invincible army. This means that we Armenians have been able to educate and continue to educate youth who are devoted to their homeland and will sacrifice their lives for the defense of the homeland.

However, throughout all these years, we failed to educate citizens of the Republic of Armenia. We have problems in citizen-State relations. When the patriotic Armenian also becomes a real citizen, I think we will have fewer problems with building a legal and democratic state. Citizens must have rights and responsibilities.

The citizens of Armenia must be zealous to preserve the Armenian language, culture, Church and the family and help the homeland grow. The citizens of Armenia must help our republic become strong, prosperous and sustainable.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Hakobyan, for Armenians living abroad, Armenia is first and foremost the homeland and then a state. In your opinion, where do we draw the line (if there is a line) and when do we cross the border?

H. H.: Armenia and the Diaspora are one nation. The interests of Armenia and the Armenian people must be supreme values, and everyone’s steps and actions must derive from the awareness of that reality. I often say that Armenians in Armenia maintain the homeland, while Armenians living abroad defend the homeland. The homeland-state “border” can be crossed when the Armenians maintaining the homeland and the Armenians defending the homeland work together, when the Armenians abroad not only dream of the country, but become the ones shaping that dream. The dual citizenship institution provides every Diaspora Armenian with the opportunity to become a citizen of the Republic of Armenia and participate in ensuring the advancement of the homeland.

The homeland is the general basis of the Armenian national identity. The homeland is the guarantee for the existence, identity and dignity of a nation, the “anchor” for staying and living as an Armenian. For the majority of Armenians living abroad, Armenia is not merely the historic homeland, but their home and the salvation for staying Armenian.

Alongside statehood, the native language is also the basis for the preservation of the Armenian nation and the major guarantee.

Armenia is the homeland of all Armenians around the world. Established, literate, organized and potent Armenians must not spare any effort to help the homeland.

With the same national, historical and cultural roots, Armenia and the Diaspora are strong together. The challenges facing Armenia are the challenges of the Diaspora, and vice versa. The force of the Armenian people lies in the collective unity of all Armenians. So, the development of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership is aimed at multiplying the capabilities of different sectors of the Armenian people, as well as empowering and advancing Armenia and the Diaspora.

Let us be guided by the awareness that being Armenian is an honor and a responsibility. Let us also be guided by the awareness that the country of residence is a birthplace for Diaspora Armenians and Armenia is the homeland. So, let us build a Strong Armenia through combined efforts.

We are going to shape our history and future together for a strong Armenia, an independent and protected Artsakh, the progressive and organized Diaspora and the preservation of the type of Armenian.

The following words of Tekeyan are current now: “The land will always be the land of its son.”

Lusine Abrahamyan

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