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AMAA's Statement at the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, 1999

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    Armenian Evangelical Church's Statement at the Armenia-Diaspora Conference

    by  Movses B. Janbazian

    Editor's Note: The following is the full text of the Armenian
    Evangelical Church's statement presented by Rev. Dr. Movses
    B. Janbazian, the Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary
    Association of America, at the Armenia-Diaspora Conference held in
    Yerevan, Armenia, on September 22-23, 1999.

	Your Excellencies, Presidents of the Republics of Armenia and
    Nagorno-Karabagh, your Holiness, and dear compatriots.

	On behalf of the Armenian Evangelical World Council and the 155
    Armenian Evangelical Churches of the Homeland and the Diaspora, we
    greet you with warmest Christian love.  We also wish to express our
    congratulations and gratitude to those who conceived the idea of
    this Armenia-Diaspora Conference and worked hard to make it a

	The issues faced by Armenia and the Diaspora are many and
    serious.  Therefore, this historic conference places a burden of
    heavy responsibilities and serious commitments on the shoulders of
    its organizers and participants.  This is the reason why the
    Armenian Evangelical Church is present at this conference with the
    prayerful participation of the representatives of all Armenian
    Evangelical regional church unions in the world, namely, Rev. Yuri
    Avanesyan from Armenia; Rev. Megerdich Karagoezian from the Middle
    East; Rev.  Dr. Vahan Tootikian from North America; Rev. Gilbert
    Léonian from Europe; Rev. René Léonian from the Eurasian region;
    Mr. Hampartsum Moumdjian from South America; Mr. Borros Halladjian
    from France; Mr. Andrew Torigian, representing the Armenian
    Missionary Association of America; and Rev. Movses B. Janbazian,
    Secretary of the Armenian Evangelical World Council.

	Armenian Evangelicals have been an inseparable part of the life
    and history of the Armenian nation since 1846.  Armenian
    Evangelicals have gone through all the horrors of massacres,
    genocide and statelessness that befell the Armenian people.  At the
    same time, Armenian Evangelicals have been unreserved participants
    in all the strivings and achievements of the Armenian nation.

	Currently, the Armenian Evangelical Church, under the blessings
    of God, continues to minister to our people in Armenia and in 20
    other countries around the world through its more than 155 pulpits;
    185 ordained ministers; 25 educational institutions; Haigazian
    University of Beirut (the only Armenian institution of higher
    learning outside Armenia); many social service centers;
    publications; youth centers; and significant endowments and
    foundations dedicated to charitable, educational and humanitarian
    purposes.  Specially, through their missionary arm, the Armenian
    Missionary Association of America, Armenian Evangelicals render
    inestimable services to our people in the Diaspora, in the Homeland
    and in Artsakh.

	We believe that the independence of Armenia offers a special
    opportunity to strengthen the relationship between Armenia and the
    Diaspora.  Therefore, Armenian Evangelicals pray and work with
    renewed hope for the enhancement of the mutual ties and
    relationship between Armenia and the Diaspora, which will benefit
    both of these wings of the Armenian nation.  We wish to depict this
    relationship as a symbiotic one, which will nurture and assure the
    existence and prosperity of both Armenia and the Diaspora.

	Our understanding of the Armenia-Diaspora mutual relationship
    rests on two basic premises.

	The first of these premises is that all human beings who
    confess to being Armenian comprise one nation, the Armenian nation;
    they have one homeland, the historical Armenia; and both the
    Armenian nation and Armenia are under one flag, the red, blue and
    orange Armenian tricolor.

	The second basic premise on which our understanding of the
    Armenia-Diaspora mutual relationship is based is that unity does
    not mean uniformity.  We believe that unity is having a common
    purpose on essential issues and cooperation on common objectives.
    In other words, attainable unity in the Diaspora, and between
    Armenia and the Diaspora is necessarily based on the following
    principles: - non-negotiable and unreserved unity, and even
    uniformity, in essential and vital issues; - freedom and
    understanding in non-vital and non-essential issues; and - mutual
    love and respect in all issues.

	    The Armenian Evangelical Church believes that the following
    are the major essential issues the Armenian nation is facing at
    present: 1.  Maintaining the liberation and independence of Artsakh
    by all means, but preferably through creative negotiations and
    diplomatic efforts; and, at an appropriate time, the annexation of
    the Armenian lands of Nagorno Karabagh to the Motherland of
    Armenia.  2.  Assuring the defense and security of Armenia through
    adequate military preparedness, and a flexible, balanced and wise
    foreign policy pursued in consultation with the Diaspora.  Never
    again should the Armenian nation be subjected to massacres and
    genocide!  Never again should we lose any part of that tiny piece
    of land remained to us out of the boundless universe created by
    God!  3.  A condition of political stability and a democratic
    system of government in Armenia which will assure human rights,
    including the right to freedom of speech, conscience, religion and
    worship for all citizens.  4.  Vitalization of the economy of
    Armenia by overcoming the difficulties of the current blockade,
    implementing a market economy, faithfully adhering to the current
    privatization laws and regulations, adopting a practical and
    equitable system of taxation, and creating an atmosphere of trust
    and confidence for Diasporan and international financial
    investments and credits.  5.  Reformation and modernization of the
    educational system and institutions of Armenia so that our current
    and future generations will be equipped to benefit from the
    scientific and technological wonders of the 21st century, and our
    people will be enabled to compete with neighboring and other
    nations.  6.  Seeking the recognition of the Armenian genocide by a
    greater number of nations and international bodies through
    coordinated and persistent efforts by the Diaspora and Armenia, as
    well as pursuit of reparations for the crime, and rectification of
    the injustices committed against our nation.  7.  Halting the
    current emigration from Karabagh and Armenia by raising the living
    standards of our people through investment and creation of job
    opportunities.  8.  Slowing the assimilation of the diasporan
    Armenians by all possible means, and the development of an Armenian
    identity and sense of belongingness among the younger generation in
    the Diaspora through coordinated efforts by Armenia and the
    Diaspora.  9.  The bonding together of the Diaspora and Armenia by
    enacting a dual citizenship law in Armenia, promoting youth and
    student-exchange programs, creating in Armenia and Artsakh
    Kibbutz-type communities for diasporan young people, promoting the
    exchange of cultural and educational programs through mutual visits
    and modern technology and communication means, and ironing out the
    differences between the Eastern and Western Armenian dialects.

	We believe that these and other issues should be discussed
    jointly by Armenia and the Diaspora, and the proposals issuing from
    these discussions should be pursued with the concerted efforts of
    both Armenia and the Diaspora.

	We Armenian Evangelicals also have another serious concern,
    which relates to the current weakness of the Christian faith of our
    people.  For various reasons, our people in Armenia and the
    Diaspora have lost our former spiritual values, the faith of our
    forebears and the vision of Gregory the Illuminator, which have
    played such an important role in the development of our national
    image, character and cultural heritage.  In order to reclaim our
    historical and genuine national identity, we have to rediscover the
    Gospel-inspired holy and pure faith of our fathers.  We believe
    that if we cannot live as a Christian nation, the independence that
    we have achieved, and the lands we have liberated, as well as the
    economic, social and scientific progress we hope to achieve, all
    will be in vain.  It is impossible to build a good world without
    building up the inner spiritual world of people.  It is impossible
    to create a noble culture, lifestyle, society or civilization
    without adhering to noble principles, truth, and spiritual values,
    the purest source of which is God the Creator, the Lord and the
    Savior of the universe.

	Therefore, it is our highest hope and ardent prayer that when
    during the first year of the third millennium we joyfully and with
    pride celebrate the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of
    Christianity as the state religion of Armenia, all of us in Armenia
    and in the Diaspora will experience the beginning of a new
    spiritual revival at government, church and community levels, and
    we shall once again rededicate ourselves as a nation to Jesus

	In 301 A.D.  our forebears made a covenant with Jesus Christ.
    If we fulfill our commitment to that covenant, then God will
    abundantly bless our small but precious nation, and He will make
    our nation a source of blessings not only to its sons and
    daughters, but also to its neighboring peoples and to all humanity.
    We believe that this is our nation's reason for being; this is our
    people's mission in the world; and this is the God-ordained destiny
    of our Haigaznian race.

	May God bless the Republic of Armenia and the children of our
    nation living in the Motherland and in the Diaspora, now and
    always.  Amen.

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