Open Letter to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

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Open Letter to Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

Sent: January 9, 2019

Published in Nouvel Hay, HyeTert, Aravot, Keghart, The Armenian Weekly, Nor Or weekly, The Armenian Mirror-Spectator, USA Armenian Life, and elsewhere.


PLEASE SCROLL TO BOTTOM TO READ UNPUBLISHED OPEN LETTER FROM THE SUMMER OF 2018


January 9, 2019


Open Letter to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan


CC: Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan

Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan

Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan

Worldwide Armenian media


Honourable Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia


Dear Minister Pashinyan,


We, the undersigned independent journalists of the Armenian Diaspora, join our brothers and sisters in Armenia and the Diaspora who have thus far expressed shock and dismay over recent announcements that Armenia’s Ministry of the Diaspora will be terminated.


Rather than eliminate this critical Ministry, further developing it is what our Pan-Armenian nation needs most. Doing so would enrich Armenia and its Diaspora and contribute to our collective longevity at a time when our existence as a nation is in great jeopardy by nature of emigration from Armenia and cultural assimilation in the Diaspora.


While the Diaspora has not been blessed with a natural right to participate in Armenia’s political affairs, we, the undersigned, oppose this unilateral and self-defeating decision in the strongest terms possible.


Removing the Diaspora Ministry will create greater distance between the peoples of Armenia, Artsakh, Occupied Armenia and the Diaspora. It will make cultural and intellectual exchanges more difficult. It will also curtail financial aid from the Diaspora, which Armenia so desperately needs. It would be the equivalent of committing national suicide. Is this truly what the people of Armenia and Artsakh want?


If the decision to shut down the Ministry is based on financial need, we propose that the funding be sought from the Diaspora and the Ministry itself staffed with individuals from the Diaspora.


Soon after acting Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan’s tour of Diasporan communities following Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution,” we drafted the following letter. However, we held it for release until the circumstances surrounding the Parliamentary elections reached their conclusion. Having discovered pending plans for the Diaspora Ministry’s elimination, we reproduce it below realizing that the content of the letter may not interest the Pashinyan administration.


However, we share it in the hopes that our fellow Western Armenians scattered all over the world will come to agree that we have important work to do that Armenia cannot or will not do and that the points mentioned in the letter can be undertaken by the Diaspora itself. Unfortunately, our survival and ambitions to regain our historic homeland must be sought through avenues other than through the government of present-day Armenia.


If the decision to shut down the Ministry is based upon strategic designs within present-day Armenia, we propose that Diasporans whose ancestors were driven from their ancestral Western Armenia pursue other avenues to gain their representation.


In recent years, new organizations, such as the four listed below, have appeared on the scene. They are:


The Defense Council of Western Armenia - https://western-armenia.org


The Government of Western Armenia - http://www.western-armenia.eu/ stat.gov.wa/en/index_en.htm


The Modus Vivendi Center - http://modusvivendicenter.org


The National Council of Western Armenians - http://ncwarmenians.org


These organizations seek to gain greater visibility and support from Western Armenians scattered all over the globe. We encourage these organizations to introduce themselves to the greater Diaspora, state their goals, describe how their officers were elected and find a way to unite under one umbrella.


Sincerely (in alphabetical order),


· C.K. Garabed, Independent editor/writer, New Jersey, USA

· Lusin Kasbarian, Independent journalist, New Jersey, USA

· Ludér Sahagian, Independent scholar, Massachusetts, USA

· Jirair Tutunjian, Independent journalist, Toronto, Canada


'Our (unsent) Summer 2018 Open Letter to Acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan follows:'


Open Letter to Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan

CC:

Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan

Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan

Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan

Worldwide Armenian media


Summer 2018

Honourable Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia

Dear Minister Pashinyan,


We, the undersigned Armenian Diaspora activists, wish to extend our congratulations for the climate of optimism and transparency following the non-violent regime change in Armenia.


The new administration's desire to advance the interests of the Armenian nation and its people is welcomed by patriotic Armenians everywhere. The new Diaspora Minister’s stated goal of learning about the concerns of the Armenian Diaspora and meaningfully engaging with it is encouraging. As the Ministry commences with its important tasks, we wish to express our thoughts regarding the potential role of the Diaspora in the operation of the Ministry.


We understand that the Ministry will create its annual Strategic Planning Group.


We respectfully urge this group to address the following issues:


1) The creation of two departments based on cultural affiliations and spoken dialects: Western Armenian affairs (this refers generally to Diasporans whose ancestors or they themselves originated from Western Armenia or Cilicia) and Eastern Armenian affairs (this refers generally to Diasporans whose ancestors or they themselves originated from present-day Armenia or Artsakh). We propose that these two departments function above the existing Diaspora Ministry departments overseeing the different geographic divisions in the Diaspora.


2) Engagement of all Diasporan Armenians to serve the Ministry and nation via sub-committees, think tanks, and offices that operate throughout the Diaspora itself. Looking to the future, when the term of office of the current Minister expires, a well-qualified, Diaspora-born candidate should be considered as his successor.


We urge the Diaspora Ministry to include in its Strategic Planning Group those pan-Armenian Diasporans who favor a Greater Armenia. We would like to see the expansion of the pool of Diasporan individuals consulted in existing and new Diaspora Ministry video- and tele-conferences to include those who are not affiliated with established organizations. We would like to see simultaneous translation for foreign language speakers participating in video-, tele-, and in-person conferences such as the Conference of Writers of Armenian Origin Composing in Foreign Languages.


3) Within the Diaspora Ministry’s existing structure of annual action plans, endeavor to develop specific and achievable short, medium, and long-term goals and timetables for the Ministry with annual, public updates on the status of completion. One example could be to consider ways by which to mobilize the Diaspora in case there is a foreign effort to liquidate Armenia and/or Artsakh.


4) Take steps to remove barriers erected by past regimes that excluded Diaspora Armenians from full participation in the governance of the country. For example, to launch a program of incentives for the repatriation or short, medium, or long-term residence of those who have left present-day Armenia as well as those who have never lived there. Strive to meaningfully extend RoA nationality to all Armenians by means of relaxed citizenship legislation, which would permit them to vote from abroad, have parliamentary representation, serve in the military, and pay taxes. Doing so would help slow down the progression of the Armenian effects in the Diaspora: destruction and assimilation.


5) Continue to brainstorm and coordinate -- with Diaspora experts -- a study of the problems and concerns relating to the Diaspora.


For example, to slow down assimilation in the Diaspora, and in keeping with the 2018 proposal for the revitalization of the Western Armenian dialect submitted to the Justice Ministry of Armenia, to accelerate the teaching of Western and Eastern Armenian languages and cultures with the cooperation of educational and cultural institutions in Armenia and the Diaspora. This would include the participation of the Departments of Western Armenian at Yerevan State University and the Acharyan Institute of Linguistics at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, and their counterparts in the Diaspora; and to integrate Diaspora history, literature, and other forms of culture in the elementary, middle, and high school curricula of Armenia in order to foster a greater understanding of the Western Armenian Diaspora culture.


To this end, we urge the Diaspora Ministry to implement its 2009 action plan to create a department of Western Armenian Literature and Diaspora Studies at the Abeghyan Institute of Literature at the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. We would also like to see the Diaspora Ministry organize a team of experts from Armenia and the Diaspora to develop a curriculum for the elementary and secondary school levels in cooperation with the Philology Department of the Armenia State Pedagogical University.


6) Seek to establish meaningful exchange groups which promote long-term engagement in Armenia and the Diaspora and eventual repatriation. While Diaspora youth programs in Armenia are well established, we would like to see undergraduate and graduate students from Armenia who specialize in Armenology, Armenian Political Science/Oriental Studies, and Armenian Language and History have the opportunity to work as volunteers and interns in Diaspora organizations and communities.


In keeping with the Diaspora Ministry’s action plans, we would like to see Diasporan professional and creative individuals with a Western Armenian orientation not necessarily affiliated with any Armenian organization have the opportunity to perform, teach and tour within Armenia with organizational and logistical assistance from Diaspora Ministry personnel stationed in the Diaspora.


7) In keeping with the Diaspora Ministry’s action plan initiated in 2011, we recommend the development of a worldwide directory of Armenian talent in all disciplines with added compilation assistance from organizations and individuals in the Diaspora.


8) Resolve to address, in tandem with the Foreign Ministry, Armenian Genocide reparations and restitution in cooperation with a number of groups, including strong democracy-oriented organizations in the Diaspora and Armenia, to conduct censuses and surveys to understand, for example, how many Armenian individuals possess property deeds in Turkey to use as leverage in future negotiations with Turkey.


It is to be hoped that the foregoing will be accepted in the fraternal spirit in which it is being offered.


Thank you for your kind consideration.


Sincerely (in alphabetical order),


C.K. Garabed, Independent writer/editor, New Jersey, USA

Lusin Kasbarian, Independent journalist, New Jersey, USA

Ludér Sahagian, Independent scholar, Massachusetts, USA

Jirair Tutunjian, Independent journalist, Toronto, Canada