Below are the highlights of the diverse issues concerning the Nation, some imminent, some important, that Mr. Chenorhokian tackles in his interview to CivilNet.
The Diaspora does not exist as a thinking entity; there isn’t any unified body which takes the responsibility of important subjects such as the recognition of the Genocide, which the Prime Minister suggested we, the Diaspora, take charge of. It is important to gather, constitute an agenda with the priorities and the timeline of its items and envisage the necessary resources. Subjects such as safeguarding the Armenian properties in Jerusalem, the destiny of the strategically important communities in the Middles East, the advancement of the community in Ukraine which numbered 600 000 before the war, are raised without anyone taking charge.
Thirty years ago, democracy was by representation. People elected representatives who took decisions. In the Internet age, people tend towards participative democracy, where the civil society takes charge of itself. This is the global trend. In the case of the Armenian Diaspora, it is essential to have a mutual respect and cooperation between the traditional institutions and the civil society. One cannot ignore the civil society and those who are not engaged in the institutions, particularly our youth. On the other hand, the traditional institutions have a vital role in the Diaspora. Remove the churches, the ARF and the AGBU structures from the Diaspora and see what will remain.
The Diaspora Armenians Round Table (DART) gathered in Paris on June 18-19 2022: thirty-one independent Armenians from 8 countries, who sat at a round table, on equal chairs, to tackle the above issues, with no pretention of representing the Diaspora.
The concerns of the participants were the destructive divisions among Armenians, both in the Homeland and the Diaspora, and the loss of self-confidence and hope. People have lost their landmarks. Armenians have been trusted throughout Europe and Asia since the 12th century.
The French king Louis XIV had designated an Armenian Marcara Avanchinz to head the “French West Indian Company”, dealing with precious stones. In India, they called us “Armenian merchant princes”; the last of such princes was Lord Paul Chater, who was the “architect” of Hong Kong and became an important philanthropist. Now we have a serious setback. Our political class, comprising the government and the opposition has been discredited.
We did not lose the last war in 44 days only but in the decades which preceded the war. Artsakh was larger than Lebanon, but had a population of 150 000 vs 6 million in Lebanon. We let millions of Armenians leave and build Russia, rather than keeping them on the land rich with its soil, water and mines. Our loss was demographic before being military. Our loss was that of qualified leadership and broadly, of our values.
It is essential that we bounce back. That can happen through dialog and establishing trust between the dividing lines. We have huge gaps, lack of trust and lack of cooperation on different levels; between the ROA government and the Diaspora, Baghramyan and Echmiatsin, among our different governmental institutions, the two poles of the Western Diasporas, that is the AGBU and the ARF, the traditional and new Diasporas, the prejudice between Diasporans and the Hayasdantsis…
We have to build bridges, such as by creating the common ground for the dialogue between the government and the opposition, to bring them out of the deadlock they are in.
Our neighbors are playing an essential diplomatic role between Russia and the NATO. Could the Armenians have played such a role? Certainly! We have high level diplomats with close ties with the governments in France, Russia and the USA. At DART, we considered constituting a task force of diplomats from Europe, the US and Russia to serve the Homeland. But such a task force would have no sense if it had no connections, or rather received its instructions from our government. The problem remains communicating with the government.
“WE” all have our self-esteem, our pride. Only WE have had Davit Anhaght, Shiragatsi, Alikhanyan. We founded the Tumo center, the Lori Smart Center. But during the last war, we realized that it was not us who conceived or produced the Bayrakdars. With our pride, we have to carry a dose of humility. We need each other.
The constitution of DART was a success by itself, since it gathered people from different countries, backgrounds and political currents. Among its participants were the founders or directors of four major NGOs each of which contributes to the homeland in millions of dollars.
DART will not become an organization. It will not have any registration and will not operate any projects. It will just bridge among the different segments of the Nation, encourage dialog and cooperation.
We will build, with perseverance and humility, together.