Angela Sahakyan: “Artsakh is my respiration. I will suffocate without Arstakh. Armenia is my eyes”

Many Armenians living abroad live for Armenia and live by speaking in Armenian. One of those Armenians is prose writer, publicist, screenwriter, member of the Unions of Writers of Artsakh and Armenia, commentator for the Armenian radio station in Paris and journalist Angela Sahakyan, who has been working for the Armenian radio station in Paris ever since she moved to France. Recently, Angela Sahakyan was hosted by RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan and gave a substantial interview in the editorial office of Hayern Aysor electronic newspaper. During the interview with the experienced and meritorious TV journalist of the once only television station of Armenia (now Armenian Public Television) and my co-worker during my years of working at the television station, Angela Sahakyan, I understood that time, space and a new environment have not changed her image, that her writing and thinking have improved, that the author of several articles, radio programs, films and books is with her hometown in Artsakh and Armenia with the programs that she broadcasts for the Armenian radio station in Paris. All this is integrated in the interview for Hayern Aysor.

Karine Avagyan: Angela, welcome to Armenia, the Homeland, but not your birthplace-Artstakh where a large part of your heart and perhaps the whole of it is located.

Angela Sahakyan: It was a great introduction for our interview-“welcome”. It is so nice to hear these words! I am always with my country, regardless of where I am. Yes, my half, better yet, my whole is in Artsakh, my magnificent birthplace. I will be visiting Artsakh to participate in the event dedicated to the 777th anniversary of the church in Gandzasar. I arranged my visit to Armenia such that I would be able to be in Artsakh during the days of the celebration. My mind and soul are always in Gandzasar. I was born in Vank village, which is near Gandzasar. I spent my childhood underneath the magnificent panorama of Gandzasar, which could be seen very clearly from our yard. I would start the day by seeing the sun in Gandzasar and would the end the day by looking at the moon in Gandzasar. I respect the church in Gandzasar for all the positive traits of my collective image.

Karine Avagyan: You and your family have been living in France for 15 years. You continue to work as a journalist for Radio AYB-FM in Paris. After working at the then National Television of Armenia, haven’t you been cut off from television and radio? Is this fortune or hard work?

Angela Sahakyan: First of all, I consider it fortune because I don’t know what I would do or what field I would be in, if it wasn’t for Armenian radio. I am talking about not only my self-expression, but the viewpoint of a journalist and targeted activities aimed at presenting my Homeland. I went to France not to live a good life, but to make the views of a journalist more accessible to my compatriots living abroad. The Armenian radio in Paris gives me that opportunity. As for the circumstances of my move to France, I must sincerely say that it was not by my will.

Karine Avagyan: Did you consider yourself a journalist more in Armenia or Paris? Where were your provided with wider opportunities to carry out your journalistic activities? Where did you grow more as a journalist?

Angela Sahakyan: Frankly, I must say that I grew and matured more in Paris. When I was in Armenia, I would prepare a program once a month, and when I started working as a journalist for “Lraber” news program, I would prepare short economic, political or cultural programs. A journalist needs to have freedom and independence and the opportunity to expand. I must admit that, in this sense, I grew more during my years in Paris.

Karine Avagyan: Let’s talk about the truthfulness of the news that Diaspora Armenians receive from Armenia.

Angela Sahakyan: Generally, yellow press always lurks very quickly and spreads everywhere. It is very important to present the good sides of the Homeland to the Diaspora. After all, one shouldn’t show the bad sides of his home or parents…Of course, there are things that are unacceptable, but this is not only the case of the Armenians. Not everything goes smoothly in the world. Let’s not forget that we Armenians are in a war for 25 years. Even if one soldier dies on the border, it means that the war is not over. This situation is one of the reasons for emigration. Wherever there is a war, people will escape, but this is something that weak people do. We can’t consider those people traitors of the nation. We need to explain. There is no mechanism or structure that can ask people where they are taking their children or where they are going as adults. There is no work being done in this direction. For instance, nobody has kept people from emigrating by offering jobs. There is no institution that would provide explanations. The gap must be filled.

Karine Avagyan: Angela, let’s talk about the Armenian radio in Paris and your series of programs.

Angela Sahakyan: We Armenians are lucky to have an Armenian radio station in Paris. AYP-FM is broadcast 24 hours a day in two languages, that is, Armenian and French. Our president is Henri Papazian, who established the radio station. Our manager is Vartan Gabrielian, who prepares very interesting cultural programs. I host two shows of my own. In the beginning, I started with the “Stories of Artsakh” series of shows. I am glad that this show was included in the list of radio shows. The other one is the series called “Open Letter to Tell the Truth” through which I present the history of the Armenian Genocide, new episodes, recognition by foreign countries and the articles by authors devoted to the Armenian Genocide. Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan has presented me with her book “The Armenian Diaspora in the Changing World”, which I will present in my series because the book also serves as an open letter addressed to the world. I have presented Varujan Vosganian’s book “Book of Whispers”, Krist Boyajian’s book and the books of many other authors in my series as well. As I compile and integrate the materials for those shows, I compiled a two-part book, a part of which is entitled “Open Letters Addressed to the World”, and the other is entitled “The Armenian Genocide Continues” in which I present episodes of the Artsakh war and write that the Armenian Genocide continues even today, that the Turks haven’t changed and that they have simply moved to a self-proclaimed state called Azerbaijan with the same motto – “Death to the Armenians”. The book was published in 1,000 copies in Armenia and was a great success. We transferred some copies to Paris where the book was presented to hundreds of people at the Armenian Apostolic Church. Last year, the book was translated into French and Turkish. The presentation was covered by several newspapers. Arpen Movsisyan produced a nice film about the book.

Karine Avagyan: Who reads the book in French?

Angela Sahakyan: Both Frenchmen and French-speaking Armenians. I must say that the Armenian community of France is a very strong community of patriots.

Karine Avagyan: Will you possibly integrate the materials of the radio show “Stories of Artsakh” and turn it into a book?

Angela Sahakyan: You guessed it. The book is already ready. The only problem is publication since there is a problem with transfer. I plan on printing it step-by-step for various communities of the Armenian Diaspora. The book “Real Images” is also ready.

Karine Avagyan: Angela, we all know that almost nobody reads books and newspapers in this age of innovative technologies due to the rapid advancement of the Internet. Aren’t you afraid that your books will have the same destiny?

Angela Sahakyan: No, I’m not afraid because when technologies stop functioning, books will remain, and there will always be readers. There might not be readers today, but there will definitely be readers tomorrow!

Karine Avagyan: Let’s also talk about your films that were shown on television for years, but seem to have been forgotten in Armenia due to your absence. Wouldn’t you like to suggest showing those films again?

Angela Sahakyan: Yes, I have several films, and unfortunately, they are not shown. I feel great pity because they are films that are devoted to our nation’s history, including “Two Shots” (dedicated to Geghaznik Mikayelyan and Vitya Ayvazyan), “Karabakh a Poppy”and the film “The Brabion Flower Seeker” dedicated to Mushegh Galshoyan (starring Hamo Sahyan, Vahagn Davtyan and Silva Kaputikyan), the film “The Soul Never Dies” (dedicated to the Spitak Earthquake) and the film about Gandzasar…We are living in painful times of indifference. It is high time to reevaluate, re-appreciate and remember the best TV shows and films that were created years ago, the short and long play and the series of programs devoted to the spiritual values of the Armenians, Armenian poetry and literature. A group of wonderful professionals worked in that field. We can’t forget or stay indifferent to anything and anyone.

Karine Avagyan: Are you familiar with the “What are YOU doing for Artsakh?” pan-Armenian movement launched by the Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia?

Angela Sahakyan: I really welcome the initiative. The question “What are YOU doing for Arstakh?” is a very interesting question. Yes, every Armenian should ask himself what he or she is doing for Artsakh since Artsakh is a war zone, and it is our boys and children defending its borders. We need to support our soldiers spiritually, morally and financially. We need to encourage our soldiers and support President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan. Artsakh is recognized! Artsakh is independent! Artsakh has a government, a national flag, and the world recognizes Artsakh. Who is Turkey to recognize or not recognize Artsakh’s independence? Many foreigners interested in Artsakh have also learned about Armenia.

Karine Avagyan: When did you become a friend of the Ministry of Diaspora? You have also met with the Minister. What issues did you discuss?

Angela Sahakyan: I have always been in contact with the Ministry. My conversations with the Minister of Diaspora are always interesting. She knows all the regions and the history of the Armenian Diaspora very well. One of the goals of my mission is to establish and maintain strong ties between the Ministry of Diaspora and the Armenian radio station in Paris.

Karine Avagyan: You live in France, but are originally from Artsakh. What does Arstakh mean to you? What does Armenia mean to you?

Angela Sahakyan: Artsakh is my respiration. I will suffocate without Artsakh. Armenia is my eyes…I see Armenia as a strong country in the future. I believe that the nation that has sons such as Gregory of Narek, Tumanyan, Aram Khachaturian, Martiros Saryan, William Saroyan, Charles Aznavour and Kirk Kerkorian will see the birth of many more people like them.

My conversation with the Paris-based Armenian intellectual ended with these inspiring words and optimism.

Karine Avagyan

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