Kevork Abahouni: “Aleppo will always be like a beating heart…”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with administrative representative of Syria’s Kantsasar Weekly Kevork Abahouni, who was hosted at the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. The following is the interview with Kevork Abahouni:

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Abahouni, although I am well aware of the longstanding weekly newspaper, I have to ask you to provide us with details about the activities that the weekly newspaper has carried out over the past 25 years.

Kevork Abahouni: The weekly has been around for about 25 years. It is the only Armenian-language newspaper in Syria and the official newspaper of the Armenian Prelacy of the Armenian Diocese of Aleppo. The weekly features articles devoted to various topics. It is only in Western Armenian. The main mission is to preserve the Armenian identity, familiarize young Armenians with their roots and keep them attached to their roots.

Karine Avagyan: You are the administrative representative. What do you do?

Kevork Abahouni: We all work together with dedication and a high sense of responsibility. Even during the years of the Syrian war, we kept working and moved for one place to the next in search of a safe area, but the weekly continued publishing. We have about 12 employees. The editor-in-chief is Zarmig Boghigian, who performs a great and valuable task and writes substantial articles. He was recently awarded by the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia.

Karine Avagyan: You said your weekly also features cultural articles. Which is the most common news-political news or cultural news? Which country’s cultural news is featured in your weekly?

Kevork Abahouni: There is a lot of cultural news, and we mainly cover the cultural events taking place in Syria and Armenia. We also have a separate section devoted to Artsakh where we publish articles devoted to the struggle for the liberation of Artsakh on a regular basis.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Abahouni, Gandzasar is in Artsakh, and you are in Syria. Why did you call the weekly “Kantsasar”? Was there a special precondition?

Kevork Abahouni: There was no special occasion or precondition. We simply wanted to name the weekly after a historic Armenian monastery. We recently visited Artsakh and participated in the event dedicated to the 777th anniversary of Gandzasar. I also visited Tatev Monastery for the first time. I have visited many churches in Armenia, but Tatev Monastery is the most impressive and the best in terms of its look, symbolism and geographical position.

Karine Avagyan: Do you manage to collaborate with the presses and various media outlets in Armenia?

Kevork Abahouni: Not so much because the means of communication are not easily accessible. We also have a website for our compatriots in different parts of the world.

Karine Avagyan: Are you visiting or are you in Armenia on a business trip?

Kevork Abahouni: I was invited to participate in the presentation of the clip of our Hrand Markarian. I was also scheduled to meet with the Minister of Diaspora. Today I had an opportunity to participate in the opening ceremony of yet another stage of the “Ari Tun” Program, and I have wonderful impressions.

Karine Avagyan: Mr. Abahouni, for 7 consecutive years, I have always asked my interlocutors to tell me what Armenia means to them. However, today I am making an exception and asking you what Aleppo means to you and who the Armenian of Aleppo and the Syrian-Armenian is…

Kevork Abahouni: Aleppo is the birthplace. It is very hard for a person having lived in Aleppo to adapt to life in a different place. Aleppo is one of the great spiritual and national centers for the Armenians. If you meet a person doing a major job in a foreign country, you will learn that he is an Armenian from Aleppo, a Syrian-Armenian. We have the Karen Jeppe Lyceum, the alumni of which are scattered across the globe and hold major positions due to their Armenian education, spirit of the nation, upbringing and vast knowledge. Aleppo is a smithy of thinking and patriotism. It seems as though the military operations have ceased, and the people of Aleppo, the Armenians of Aleppo are returning to their “nests” like swallows and renovating their homes…It will take a long time for Aleppo to look like it used to. Aleppo will always be like a beating heart.

Interview by Karine Avagyan

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