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Open Letter to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

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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