Lia Khachikyan: “The Armenians of Portugal are working hard for the establishment of relations between Portugal and Armenia”

On April 5, at the initiative of Portugal-Armenia Friendship Association, the Faculty of Letters at the University of Lisbon (Faculdade de Letras de Universidade de Lisboa) hosted a seminar entitled “Armenian Language Day” and moderated by founding member of the Portugal-Armenia Friendship Association Lia Khachikyan, who is studying Portuguese and examining Portuguese culture in Lisbon and gave an interview to Hayern Aysor.

Hayern Aysor: Lia, what brought you to Portugal?

Lia Khachikyan: I am an architect by profession, and it was my desire to obtain a PhD in architecture that brought me to Portugal in 2014. When I came, I quickly realized that I really loved and was interested in Portuguese. After I finished my studies, I decided to return and continue to study Portuguese and examine Portuguese culture. Today, I am pursuing a career that is linked to the study of Portuguese.

Hayern Aysor: Is this your first collaboration with the Portugal-Armenia Friendship Association?

Lia Khachikyan: No, it is not. I am part of the group of founding members. This is not my first collaboration, but a part of our work that is aimed at enhancing Armenian-Portuguese cultural ties, as well as the relations in the spheres of politics, science, economy, sports and other spheres. It is safe to say that there are practically no relations and cooperation between the two countries, and this is the responsible task of the Portugal-Armenia Friendship Association, namely all the members.

Hayern Aysor: How did you present information about the Armenian language during the “Armenian Language Day” seminar?

Lia Khachikyan: My speech was quite general and as brief as possible. The Portuguese participants were attending the first event devoted to the Armenian language. The objective was to introduce them to Armenian language and culture. We talked about the geographical dissemination of the language, the history and the stages of development of the language, the creation of the Armenian alphabet, the formation and future changes of the alphabet, as well as the main differences between the phonology and vocabulary of Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian. We also briefly touched upon the dialects in the Republic of Armenia and in the territory of Historic Armenia and provided general information about the grammatical structure of the language. We also managed to introduce the Portuguese to contemporary Armenian poetry and recited some of the poems of Hovhannes Tumanyan, Hovhannes Shiraz, Hamo Sahyan and Paruyr Sevak.

We talked a little about everything in order to give them a complete picture. The participants were also participating through short games, and some participants even had the opportunity to learn and pronounce words in Armenian.

It is clear that the material was quite difficult for the foreigners, and this is why I had tried to make the presentation as easy and interactive as possible. The quartet of soloists of Consonancia String Orchestra helped me a lot, and my presentation ended with their brilliant performances of the masterpieces of Armenian music.

Hayern Aysor: Lia, do you think you managed to provide the participants with information about the Armenian language?

Lia Khachikyan: Judging from the responses, congratulatory remarks and letters of gratitude, I can say the participants were very impressed. Many people approached me and expressed words of gratitude. They told me that they found out interesting facts about a place they didn’t know about, learned some new things and, most importantly, the end of the working day was pleasant and interesting for them.

Some of the chairs of the Faculty of Letters at the University of Lisbon (Faculdade de Letras de Universidade de Lisboa) even made proposals for collaboration, and I will definitely consider them.

Some Portuguese linguists asked me for information about opportunities to study Armenian. For them and, why not, for us Armenians, this is a new platform for research and the start of new opportunities.

Based on all this, it is safe to conclude that the foundation has been laid. We took one step forward for the establishment and deepening of relations in the spheres of culture and science.

Hayern Aysor: Lia, what you are saying shows that such events will open new perspectives for cooperation between Armenia and Portugal.

Lia Khachikyan: As I already mentioned, the Portugal-Armenia Friendship Association and the Armenians of Portugal are working hard for the establishment of relations between the two countries. In addition, these two nations also have many things in common. This is a fact for the Portuguese and the Armenians who know Portugal, as well as the Armenians and the Portuguese who know Armenia. From this perspective, such events foster the deepening of interest in each other and the functioning of future collaborations. After all, getting to know each other and showing interest are first and foremost important for successful cooperation. No matter where we go, such events are simply a necessity.

In closing, on behalf of myself and the Portugal-Armenia Friendship Association, I would like to express gratitude for your interest and the pleasant interview.

Lusine Abrahamyan

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