Armenian News Network / Groong

President Robert Kocharian's Speech
at the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, 1999

      [This is President Robert Kocharian's keynote speech at the
      Armenia-Diaspora conference. It was delivered on 09/22/1999, and
      subsequently published in Hayastani Hanrapetutiun, 09/23/1999,
      pp.1-2. Below is a translation with some minor omissions.
      Please Note: This is not an official translation, nor is it done
      by a professional translator. I have tried to keep the wording as
      close as possible to the original, although this particular speech
      cannot be considered a direct word-by-word rendition of the Armenian
      text. The text in quotation marks is a direct translation. I have
      translated this for my own use, and share it with the Groong
      readership -- Razmik Panossian]

    President Robert Kocharian's Speech at
    The Armenia-Diaspora Conference (09/22/1999)

    In the history of our people, today we are opening a new page. We need
    new categories and a new quality in our national self-organisation. In
    the international context of economic globalisation, new information
    technologies, unity of pan-human characteristics, etc., the diaspora
    is no doubt an asset with its economic power, political links, and
    accumulated experience. Therefore, it is of essential importance to
    maintain (pahpanel -- save and defend) the diaspora. It is very
    important to find the correct mechanism of cooperation. "Armenia
    has much to give to the diaspora, and the diaspora has much to give
    to the fatherland."

    The national arch-problems (azgayin gerkhndirner) facing Armenia,
    Artsakh and the diaspora can be solved with highest national unity.
    "It is obvious that the idea of national unity has been the constant
    tread/guide (ughekits) in Armenian reality." Based on past experiences,
    we should clarify national priorities through dialogue, and we must
    find organisational ways through which it will be possible to move
    the dialogue to the plane of solving essential problems. We have no
    other choice. This is not about creating a new organisational
    system to replace the structures already operating in the diaspora
    or in the fatherland. But it is about the acceptance of a completely
    new quality in (level of) cooperation, within the parameters of which
    each organisation will, I believe, have the opportunity to participate.
    It is not enough to clarify the priorities of national-political,
    economic, scientific-educational, health, cultural, media and other
    issues, but to emphasise the plans of how to realise them [end of
    page 1 in newspaper text].

    For the diaspora, the greatest issue still remains the imperative
    to maintain identity, and to reproduce itself with minimal loss of
    national qualities. No matter where Armenians live, the general and
    collective characteristic remains historical destiny, historical
    memory, and the natural responsibility towards national preservation.
    The problem of remaining Armenian in the diaspora is not just an
    abstract and emotional issue; it is an essential issue. First, for
    the continuation and future of Armenian statehood. Hence, the
    state's role towards the diaspora is based on the following

    1) Create the necessary conditions and possibilities in order to
       maintain Armenianness in the diaspora.
    2) Defend the interests and human rights of diasporan Armenians at
       the level of international norms.
    3) Create for diasporans favourable conditions to take part in the
       strengthening of national statehood, and in the solution to
       pan-national issues.
    4) Assure possibilities so that diasporans can participate more
       actively in the creation of national values, giving a permanent
       and coordinated nature to their activities in spiritual, cultural,
       scientific and other realms.
    5) Create for diaspora Armenians conditions that will give them the
       legal-civil rights to live in Armenia. This will realise the
       motto "Armenia is the fatherland of all Armenians." This, no
       doubt, assumes the acceptance of dual citizenship. [This point
       was emphasised in the speech, adding that the constitutional
       barrier to dual citizenship must be lifted. That phrase was not
       in the printed text.]
    6) Create in Armenia structures that will take into account the
       need for multilevel relations with the diaspora.
    7) In the international relations between Armenia and other states,
       take into account the local diaspora as a factor.
    8) Initiate and assist in the creation of pan-national public
       structures in various domains.

    "All the national structures of the diaspora, no matter where they
    are, have had one arch-problem: to struggle against the loss of
    national identity, national values, qualities, and the step by step
    weakening of historical memory." A diaspora separated from national
    statehood is condemned to be an extinguished historical memory. Every
    new generation inevitably is one step further from national identity.
     "It is our belief that the diaspora can become an active,
    self-perpetuating and permanent national factor, both in individual
    countries and as a general condition, if it has coordinated and
    harmonious relations with the reality of national statehood and the
    fatherland." From this perspective, the diaspora has two missions:
    a) the constant problem of maintaining national identity, through
    its own efforts and with the assistance of independent Armenia; b)
    the immediate participation in the strengthening of national

    Today, the two fundamental issues facing the nation are Artsakh,
    and the economic improvement of Armenia. Diaspora Armenians'
    assistance in the work of strengthening national statehood are:

    1) Consultation through clear mechanism of advising.
    2) Informative and specialised assistance in science, education,
       health care, and in other realms.
    3) Organisational and political assistance to the homeland's
       diplomacy. The diaspora is the result of the genocide. It has
       begun the struggle to get the genocide recognised by the
       international community. The diaspora must continue this work,
       in cooperation with the fatherland state.
    4) Humanitarian aid to overcome the effects of the earthquake and
       the social conditions.
    5) Increase of economic investment in Armenia and Artsakh.
    6) Assistance in the strengthening of the homeland through paying
       national dues/tax.
    7) Permanent participation in the work of solving national problems
       and defining goals.
    8) The organisation of gathering information, and learning about
       each of the diasporan communities.

    This is the beginning of the process, and the organisational work
    will take years. In the meantime, we have a series of programmes
    which will not be too difficult to realise. These are:

    1) The creation of a united information field through satellite
       communications which will lead to pan-national TV channel.
    2) The creation of a development agency which will actively
       incorporate diaspora Armenians in the Armenian economy.
    3) The further use of the "Armenia" pan-Armenian fund, which is the
       first success of a pan-Armenian structure.
    4) The regular organisation of pan-Armenian sports games and
       cultural festivals.
    5) The creation in Armenia of a permanent youth centre.
    6) The creation of many specialised business organisations such as
       the Armenian Jewellers Association, and doctors' associations.

    The Armenia-diaspora meeting is not going to solve all of our
    problems, obviously. But a seriously organised nation is a
    significant economic and political factor. Each generation of
    Armenians has its own mission. With this belief, the fatherland has
    initiated this meeting.

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