Shahan Kandaharian:

Armenian people to benefit from dual citizenship

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Near East has always been the center of the Armenian Diaspora. Armenians who survived the Genocide in 1915 found shelter here. The Armenian community of Lebanon is one of the oldest and weighty ones throughout the Diaspora. Shahan Kandaharian, the Editor-in-Chief of Azdak Beirut-based newspaper, comments to PanARMENIAN.Net on the life of the community and situation in Lebanon.
The law on dual citizenship has been recently adopted in Armenia. What's the attitude of the Diaspora about it?

The debates on the law on dual citizenship were focused in the 'classic' Armenian Diaspora residing in the Near East, specifically in Lebanon. As a matter of fact, this document is of utmost importance for Armenians who were deprived of homeland. The law will restore historical justice and a proper approach to the Diaspora. The former authorities prohibited dual citizenship over political reasons. Nowadays, the Armenianhood being dispersed throughout the globe has been offered a new outlook. We will join our efforts and the Diaspora will possess a document proving its existence at the international level. We, the people living beyond our fatherland, will know that our children will be citizens of Armenia. However, the discussion develops in two directions. First, you shouldn't forget that many people left Armenia during the recent years and adoption of the law will help them to restore or maintain Armenian citizenship. Second, the issue also needs consideration from the viewpoint of the European Neighborhood Policy. Armenia is integrating into European structures and the law must meet European standards. I suppose, neither of the EU member states bans dual citizenship. Thus, proceeding from the interests of the nation and the state, I am convinced that we all will benefit from the adoption of the law.

How would you comment on the role of the Diasporan press?

The activities of the Diasporan press have always been targeted at maintenance of nation and language. However, there are some urgent problems that need to be spoken about. It's not a secret that press is experiences hard times. New alternative media structures fill in the information space with comments and reviews. Furthermore, the number of readers decreases. Under the circumstances the mission of the Armenian press should be changed. With the help of electronic media information is quick to reach the audience. Three Armenian dailies are issued in Lebanon. These are Azdak (ARF Dashnaktsutyun), Zartonk (Ramkavar-Azatakan party) and Ararat (Hnchakyan party). When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Lebanon we published a joint number dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. We also protested the presence of Turkish peacekeepers in Lebanon.
The war in Lebanon is over but the country is far from living in peace. Comment, please, on the life of the Armenian community of Beirut and other Armenian-inhabited towns.

When speaking of the Armenian community of Lebanon I should first of all refer to the post war situation and international political crisis. Although the Armenian population was safe, the deep political crisis, the strike of the opposition and absence of dialogue between the government and opposition arouse concern. The community, like the other people, experiences hard economic circumstances. However, we are accustomed to hardships, During 17 years of civil war our people were among those who laid down their lives in struggle, but were are strong enough to recover. The Armenian community of Lebanon is special. The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, the Armenian Evangelical Church, numerous Diasporan centers and head offices of Diasporan organizations are situated in this country. Despite difficulties and losses the community is firm. Beirut is the capital of the Armenian Diaspora, we say.

Would you describe the current situation in Lebanon, please?

The current situation is complex and unstable. The authorities are in severe confrontation with the opposition. Muslims shiites refused to join the coalition government. The Armenian political parties sometimes disagree on the Lebanese problems as well, but, traditionally, Armenian organizations are wise enough to distinguish Lebanese problems from Armenian national problems and reach a common ground on the issues, especially if the matter concern security of the community.
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