YEREVAN — On September 20, the Pan-Armenian Forum for Heads and Representatives of Diaspora Armenian Organizations ended with a press conference at Karen Demirchyan Sport-Concert Complex in Yerevan.
The forum kicked off on Monday, September 19, in coordination with the Republic of Armenia’s 20th anniversary. It brought together more than 550 people from Armenian communities in 46 countries of the world. In his opening remarks President Sarkisian said that the gathering symbolized “the might of the 10-million-strong Armenian nation” and that “that power has solved numerous pan-Armenian problems.”
The following is the translated speech of the Chairman of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Central Committee; Mr.Setrak Ajemian.
Dear Presidents of Armenia and Artsakh.
His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians
Ladies and Gentlemen
As the worldwide Social Democrat Hunchakian Party’s Central Committee Chairman, it is a great honor to be present and address the Armenia Diaspora conference dedicated to the 20-year anniversary of our Motherland’s independence. An independence for which we waited and dreamt for. An independence in the course of which we have sacrificed many, and an independence we will sacredly cherish for its indisputable value, yet, an independence whose longevity we still struggle for. A struggle for which we have yet to combat thousands of challenges, which we can confidently say, we have readily accepted the challenge and will resolve. For our people; who went on millennia without an independent homeland and the establishment of a sovereign state with its own army, having won a war imposed on us… is a new phenomenon; phenomenon which many nation states do not have the privilege to be proud of.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
During these 20 years of Independence we have had tremendous successes. Within these same years, we have also had both objective and subjective difficulties, as well as deficiencies. A 20-year-old youth, and indeed our independence is at a young age, has the right to have deficiencies, but these deficiencies with age should not increase, but rather be treated, and eventually fade away so that together we have the Armenia for which we have struggled many years for.
After a devastating earthquake, winning an imposed war and establishing an independent Armenia and Artsakh is not easy. There are very few countries in the world which have established their independence in such difficult conditions that which Armenia and Artsakh were faced with. Despite these difficulties, we triumphed; nevertheless our triumph can be greater, once we strengthen our victories in the international arena.
Today, many have already spoken in regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. It’s clear that every single Armenian desires only one thing: the international recognition of independent Artsakh so that Artsakhsis have sovereignty of their own lands and build a future without fear of hostility. The Hunchakian party believes that there are tribulations facing Armenians which require an effort of national unity and energy. The Artsakh issue is not only for Artsakhsis but an issue for all Armenians, the preservation of Diaspora Armenians is not only an issue for the Diasporans but an issue for all Armenians. Armenia’s social and economic well-being is not just for those living in Armenia but an issue for all Armenians.
Today, here in the Armenia Diaspora conference, we all come to work, to find solutions to the challenges facing our nation, and these solutions and the work needed to ascertain them necessitate a clear and straightforward understanding of the problems. not just goodwill speeches. Therefore, on behalf of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party, I am compelled to bring to light and consider a few issues about which I am sure we are all concerned. The 20 year old system of governance has shown us that it is a system which has not been able to resolve the vital civil issues facing the nation and we genuinely need to change the system we have in Armenia.
Today, for Armenia, social justice and economic tension between the classes are of vital importance. The emigration from Armenia that started in 1991, not only failed to halt in the last twenty years, but continued to maintain its massive footing. This disturbs us all; both the authorities of Armenia and organizational structures in the Diaspora. It is not a secret that people will migrate from their native land because of social difficulties, because they could not earn their daily bread through the sweat of their hard labor in the Motherland.
The global economic crisis and the response by the Armenian authorities to combat this crisis is understandable, but these factors only explain the current economic difficulties and disregard the economic monopolies and monopolizers who are also active in the political arena. This is not acceptable. When the prevailing economic and political elite of the state are one and the same, the ordinary citizens of the Republic are wronged. This is an important issue that must be addressed for the reasonable economic development of Armenia.
Day by day, the center of Yerevan continues to be developed, whereas, the border regions outside of Yerevan are continuously ignored. This is an important issue which we have tried to exemplify by urging many Diasporans to move towards and invest in the differing regions of Armenia. For its part however, the government, in turn, should additionally initiate the improvement of the industrial, agriculture, and tourism sectors of these regions.
The economic difficulties will remain secondary when compared to the deplorable situation which is the lack of equality before the law; where you have one segment of society monopolizing against the remaining segment of simple, hard working individuals who live in arbitrary conditions of corruption in private industries, as well as the public sector. We welcome the President’s announced reforms to tackle this vicious phenomenon within the country, but we do believe that much more is needed to truly rectify the situation.
In our opinion, the primary issue for the Diaspora, is and will remain, the issue of preservation of the Armenian identity. Within this conference, it is noted that the Armenian government is committed to participating in activities preserving the Armenian identity. We welcome this responsible position and we hope that such a proposition does not remain on paper, but rather becomes tangible reform in daily activities and concerns.
As is affirmed within this conferences, the most important aspect of preserving the Armenian identity is keeping the Armenian youth Armenian. In this respect, Armenia has advanced with various initiatives for Diasporan youth the «Ari Doun» (Come Home) program, summer camps, the Pan-Armenian games, and others are welcomed. We support and desire the further establishment of similar programs, and the expansion of existing programs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A few months ago, within the French National Assembly, I had the opportunity to partake in the conference on “Peace and Security in the Caucasus” organized by the S.D.H.P. I addressed the need for the creation of a pan-Armenian body to combat the problems we face. We are pleased, through the initiative of the Armenian government, to announce the establishment of a pan Armenian body for the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. As representatives of the Armenian people, we will discuss the issues of the Armenian Genocide and reparations at one table.
Ladies and gentlemen, we salute the Armenia-Diaspora conference and wish all the organizers and participants much success.