Armenia - home for all Armenians

Hranush Hakobyan:

Armenia - home for all Armenians

PanARMENIAN.Net - For a long time, some in Armenia viewed Diaspora as a kind of "milch cow", without seriously thinking about its problems. Last year, Diaspora Ministry finally came into existence. In an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Hranush Hakobyan introduced Ministry's achievements and further plans.
The Ministry's first anniversary is coming to a close. How do you estimate the activities accomplished over the past year? Did you manage to implement all the projects planned for that period?
I think one year is enough for making assessments. Ministry managed to resolve several problems in that period. First of all, resolved legal issues, enabling us to create a legal base for our Ministry. We have also considered organizational issues. I want to note with satisfaction that our Ministry became a full-fledged state body. Diaspora was looking forward to Ministry's opening. Our compatriots finally realized that our state pays serious attention to their problems. Ministry became a kind of bridge between Armenia and Diaspora. That's why we made attempts to realize all-Armenian projects and unite all Armenian communities around the world. There are currently over 30 thousand Armenian organizations registered in world's countries. And it's really very hard to organize their activities.

The process of our activities proved that Diaspora is a multi-layer structure full of diversities. Any region having Armenian community has its peculiarities and specific problems, hence our policy cannot be the same for each of them.

Over the recent years, we witnessed a lot of developments in Armenia-Diaspora relations. If, until quite recently, Diaspora was viewed as a financial source, President Serzh Sargsyan has now announced that Diaspora-Armenians should visit their homeland, make investments and get income. Besides, it was clearly announced that Armenians residing in foreign states should make their contribution to the development of Armenia.

Armenian leadership numerously stated that Diaspora is Armenia's most important resource. To what extend does Armenia use this resource now?
We have held professional forums with a purpose to unite Armenian specialists and help them establish contacts. Our powerful compatriots can make a considerable contribution to development of Armenia and we should think how this potential can be used. We should know each other. We have common past and we will have common future. We are planting the seeds of Armenia-Diaspora tree which will yield fruit soon. And we should cherish this tree.

In an interview with our agency a year ago you said that Armenian community of Russia should actively engage in Armenia's life. What steps have been taken for the purpose?
The Union of Armenians of Russia is an influential organization dealing with the issues of the Armenian community. This organization help resolution of problems throughout Russia. The Armenian community of Kaliningrad can be a perfect example for other Armenian communities. I would like to mention establishment of 6 Armenian Sunday schools, which were supplied with essential books. We also keep in contact with local Armenian newspapers.

Immediately after establishing the ministry a conference devoted to repatriation was held. Tell us, what phase has the relevant program entered?
We have developed a program of repatriation and submitted it to the government. It is projected to develop a draft law relevant to that program. We do not want to rush the Armenians of Diaspora. They should become familiar with this program in detail and discuss everything in detail. I am sure, repatriation is the future of our nation, since the home of any Armenian is Armenia. Of course, one year is not enough to solve all the questions, but this program is under implementation.

There is an opinion that Diaspora allegedly turned away from Armenia. Such talks intensified after the recent developments in the Armenia-Turkey relations. Do you see the alienation trend of Diaspora from Armenia?
There has not been any relations between Armenia and Turkey for about a century. Clearly, this issue is rather complex. Obviously, the Diaspora and Armenia will never forget the annihilation of one and a half million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. And I want to stress that the President of Armenia has repeatedly stated that the issue of the Armenian Genocide is not negotiable.

This fact needs no proof. If we want to see Turkey, like other countries in the world, recognized the Armenian Genocide, then the development of relations with Turkey will ultimately run to it. Sooner or later, Ankara will recognize this fact. The whole Diaspora cannot stick to one view on the Armenian-Turkish relations. About 8 million Armenians live in 120 countries around the world, and, consequently, they may not be of the same opinion. I believe that the Diaspora can never move away from home, it receives its strength from the motherland. We should listen carefully to their views, take them into account.

What do you consider your greatest achievement as the minister. What could be your achievement in the future?
Of course, implementation of all above mentioned programs can be viewed as achievement, and the formation of our ministry for me is the most important achievement. In the future I see my achievement in achieving he unity of Armenia and the Diaspora. Our opponents can outplay us, if we are divided. If we are together and united, we will not be broken.