Hovhannes Taslakian: “You have to make certain sacrifices to be involved in community service, politics and national activities”

Hayern Aysor presents the interview with Lebanese-Armenian public, political and national figure, member of the Central Committee of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society and member of the Public Council adjunct to the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hovhannes Taslakian, who was hosted at the RA Ministry of Diaspora.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Taslakian, it is safe to say that you are entirely devoted to community service. Please tell us about your activities.

Hovhannes Taslakian: Indeed, I am entirely engaged in community service, and I do it with pleasure and a sense of responsibility. I am a dentist and work by my profession, but I am engaged in community service in the field of culture and as a member of a political party. I have spoken many times on Lebanese television, in Qatar, on a radio station in Monte Carlo and have published articles in the presses. I have also been a representative of the Armenian National Committee in Beirut. I have presented the Armenian Cause, as well as the goals, activities and expectations of our political party (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun).

Karine Avagyan: Do you manage to combine your job as a dentist with your political activities and community service?

Hovhannes Taslakian: Generally speaking, community service in the Diaspora is voluntary, and many people are involved in community service after work. Work and community service don’t contradict each other. If you become completely involved in community service, you will surely face difficulties. So, you have to set your personal life aside a little bit.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Taslakian, when did you start dedicating yourself to community service? Is it a family tradition?

Hovhannes Taslakian: It comes from your family, your school, the environment in which you live, political parties and non-governmental organizations, as well as patriotism. To be involved in community service, you also need to make some sacrifices. There are many patriotic Armenians, but not all Armenians are willing to become engaged in community service.

Karine Avagyan: How did you start collaborating with the Ministry of Diaspora?

Hovhannes Taslakian: I established cooperation with the Ministry of Diaspora a long time ago. As a member of Hamazkayin’s Central Committee, I have had wider opportunities and many occasions to get acquainted with the politics, culture and other fields in Armenia. Therefore, when the Public Council adjunct to the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia was established, Hamazkayin’s Central Committee authorized me to serve as its representative within the Council.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Taslakian, are you content with being Hamazkayin’s representative in the Public Council? You are very busy and are cut off from your job. What do you get out of the meetings held by the Public Council?

Hovhannes Taslakian: There is no reason to complain, but I have more expectations in terms of making the Council more resonant and making it more enhanced. The sessions of the Council and my meetings with Mrs. Hranush Hakobyan and her words of advice are helpful in this regard. The ideas and the activities are more useful and effective.

Karine Avagyan: How long have you been involved in community service?

Hovhannes Taslakian: I have been involved in community service since the age of 20. In Beirut, there was a Zavarian Student Union that I joined when I was 20 and became a member of the board. That is exactly when I started working for the community.

Karine Avagyan: What is your greatest achievement of all these years? What is the one thing you have done for the nation that has been the most effective?

Hovhannes Taslakian: The issues are all interconnected. Whatever I have done for money, I have done it with remorse. People have often understood me and sometimes they have not understood me. Of course, there have been times when I have gotten tired, but the conclusion that I have drawn based on my logic has made me feel very satisfied because my idea has been useful and has turned into a reality. Someone can express an idea, and then it can turn into a reality. We work together.

Karine Avagyan: Can you remember a major, interesting or effective idea that has turned into a reality?

Hovhannes Taslakian: When I was 20-21 years old, a group and I decided to create a foreign-language book in order to present ourselves to foreign students. We established the Zavarian Publishing House through which we presented our views. We continued for 30 years. I still feel satisfied with the fact that we turned that idea into a reality. In the field of education, in terms of Hamazkayin, I am thinking about trying to move education from being recreational to being professional. During the political turmoil in Lebanon in 2005, it was our duty to express our views. If we have been able to formulate our views the right way and present them to political circles in a way they can understand, and if those circles have accepted our view and have changed their opinions to a certain extent, I think this is also a success.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Taslakian, thank you for this substantial and interesting interview. I wish you continue your community service and national activities for a long time for the benefit of not only Lebanon, but also all Armenians around the world.

Interview by Karine Avagyan

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