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|New Diaspora Organization Deserves Your Support
Team Keghart Editorial, 2 January 2010
Denigrating remarks towards the leadership of Armenia, and sometimes outlandish accusations, fill the more “radical”, ultra-nationalist, or maximalist websites. More sober individuals—those who disapprove of certain portions of the Protocols, such as the sections dealing with the infamous sub-commission and “International Treaties”, are trying to gauge who is capable of accomplishing what. The latter is engaged in defining the potential and limitations of the players on both sides of the divide-- Armenia and its Diaspora.
There is renewed interest to revive past efforts to crystallize Diaspora as an international political factor, since Armenia-- as a sovereign state within definite geographic confines-- is bound by certain limitations and obligations. A multitude of NGOs, advocacy groups and the three traditional political parties have been engaged, for years, in activities to create such an impetus, but their efforts have had relative success-- Genocide recognition in more than 20 countries, but without assertions of claims.
After decades of tribulations, one would have expected that the traditional Diaspora players would have come to a consensus with a concrete plan of action that had a common denominator. Unfortunately, that has not materialized for a variety of reasons which are beyond the scope of this editorial. A self-created vacuum has led some to consider a renewed, but not necessarily novel, effort to address the crucial issue.
As in many other instances in our history, intellectuals have taken the lead. In 2006 twenty-nine prominent scholars, historians, businessmen and political figures made a public appeal for the formation of an organization that would represent the descendents of the Genocide. Anoushavan Danielyan (former Prime Minister of Nagorno Karabagh, in personal capacity), Vahakn Dadrian, Hayk Demoyan, Jean Varoujan Gureghian, Silva Kaputikyan, Colonel Hayk Kotanjiyan (in personal capacity) , Karen Mikaelyan, Sos Sargsyan and Pertch Zeytuntsyan were amongst the signatories. All are descendents of Genocide survivors.
Although the case they presented to arrive at certain conclusions are sometimes questionable, by and large they depict an irrefutable reality. The document states that Armenia “is not authorized by the Western Armenian representative agencies to represent their rights and is not able to take over the mission of the solution of specific problems (bolded by Keghart) considering the destiny and future of Western Armenia and the descendants of the Western Armenians.” The signing of the Protocols made it abundantly clear that this is the case.
It is immaterial whether things could have been done differently, or that they may change in a distant future. Similarly, opposing or favoring certain positions will not make a dent to the overall picture. At present, it’s clear that there are serious limitations to what Armenia can and would do. Three successive administrations have grappled unsuccessfully with the challenge—a challenge that has become a national crisis.
Heeding the call of 2006, a temporary self-appointed “International Organizing Committee” has pursued the matter for the past three years. It has attracted young professionals, legal and financial experts to lay the ground for a representative organization in the Diaspora in the form of an elected National Assembly with its National Council and relevant committees. This new entity is proposed to be named Western Armenian National Congress (WAN-Congress). The Congress plans to hold a conference of representatives sometime before the end of the year. To Keghart.com’s knowledge, all the traditional parties have been informed, and representatives of the organizing committee have travelled to various communities to recruit adherents and delegates to the conference.
We are not so naïve as to think traditional organizations will welcome this process with open arms, despite of what they may proclaim in public. After all, the new kid on the block can be a potential competitor. Perhaps we are living in an age of different enlightenment: Individuals who sometimes espouse opposing views have become participants in the same forums, discussing common concerns, and even acting in concert on limited projects. We hope that enlightened trend is contagious and may even engulf our political parties. Is there a better common denominator—for all parties-- than Hay Tad?
Skeptics will question not only the manner that the proposed Congress is shaping up but also the concept of establishing yet another organization. For the time being, the skeptics may be the majority because what they have seen so far is akin to poverty in the midst of abundance. Figuratively speaking, it's the equivalent of social diabetes in Armenian reality.
Notwithstanding failed similar attempts, and considering the dismal alternatives, Keghart.com welcomes this initiative but with some reservations. These include interpretative and procedural matters that we will discuss in an upcoming editorial. Meanwhile, readers are invited to think seriously about this initiative and how they can contribute by constructive criticism, by participating in the project or by simply complimenting our intellectuals and experts who have devoted—over the past three years-- their time, energy and money to this vital national cause.