Presumption Will Get WAN-Congress Nowhere Editorial Board, 16 January 2011

On a number of occasions, since its inception three years ago, has reiterated that recognition of the genocide of Armenians alone will not resolve our just demands of reparation, restitution and return of lands. To that end, along with others, we have underlined the importance of the creation of an entity that would pursue the various aspects of this cause in the international arena with the participation of all concerned individuals and organizations. As we are all aware, for more than five decades many intellectuals, activists and lawyers have made various proposals of how to establish such a structure. Editorial Board, 16 January 2011

On a number of occasions, since its inception three years ago, has reiterated that recognition of the genocide of Armenians alone will not resolve our just demands of reparation, restitution and return of lands. To that end, along with others, we have underlined the importance of the creation of an entity that would pursue the various aspects of this cause in the international arena with the participation of all concerned individuals and organizations. As we are all aware, for more than five decades many intellectuals, activists and lawyers have made various proposals of how to establish such a structure.

It appeared the projected Congress of Western Armenians could fulfill that quest. The steering International Organizing Committee’s (IOC) quarterly meetings, registration of NGOs in France and Switzerland, the symposia dedicated to exploring the legal venues on how to present our demands in international courts, and establishing the nucleus of a team of legal professionals were all inspiring and hopeful activities. Accordingly lent its support to the proposed Congress and the IOC.

As we get closer to convening a conference for the establishment of the said congress, various draft proposals have been made regarding definition of its goals and constitution. Like other similar initiatives, the devil is in the details. Respecting the principles of transparency and cognizant of our obligations towards our readers, we devote this editorial to expressing our reservations regarding certain propositions that have been circulated to members of IOC and close friends. We may be accused of divulging “internal” information. We don’t perceive them to be confidential since the ideas giving rise to the said draft proposals are already public knowledge and have appeared in various articles penned by members of the IOC,  its website and in interviews.

In section B of Article 4 it is proposed that the Congress “Develop and implement pan-Armenian plans and programs in support of Armenian statehood, strengthening and rapid development of Republic of Armenia and Artsakh, improving people’s standard of living…”

At face value and as cherished goals, we presume that nobody would argue against such programs. However they raise serious questions. What does  the Congress really want to achieve and why? More importantly, who gives the right to any organization to make such blatant statements which are tantamount to interference in the affairs of the sovereign state of Republic of Armenia? Do Armenia and Artsakh agree to such plans? Ultimately, citizens of Armenia answer to their government and not to a transnational entity. Historically, all three republics of Armenia have shown resistance to encroachments, to put it mildly. Furthermore, the prerogatives of the parent countries where the NGOs are registered are implicated. One really wonders what kind of legal advice the leadership of IOC got when it made such a draft proposal.

Further down, in section E the IOC proposes to “assist in the Diaspora the preservation and awareness of Western Armenians’ identity…” Is the goal of IOC to replace other organizations that are already engaged in similar endeavours? Why duplicate?

Section H of the same article speaks about "cooperation with all other nations and people on the basis of universal principles of peace, independence, democracy and justice." Even before creating an entity and allowing it decide what direction it should take, the IOC is almost "dictating" a course, granted in a draft proposal. What’s more bothersome is the assumption of international relations which is far beyond the accepted norms of what NGOs can and should reach for. It sounds like creating an organization with governmental attributes. Is that what the IOC intends to do, forming a trans-territorial government? Wouldn’t this undermine the present statehood of Armenia and the prerogatives of its government?

Statements like the above make one’s head spin and lose track of what really the IOC wants to achieve. Aspirations aside, there are realities that impose boundaries to what we want, what is achievable and practical.

Most readers of and its close friends are not interested nor are they willing to devote time and energy to projects that have no chance of success and raise questions regarding the motives of promoting such goals or plans.

Aside from the above, when we look at the ambition of creating an overreaching entity, which presumably will speak on behalf of Western Armenians, one has to ponder about its legitimacy. On what basis does this nascent organization assume to be similar in magnitude to the First and Second congresses and call itself Third Congress? Is it not pretentious to say that the proposed  structure “cooperates with all governmental agencies, establishments…, public organizations, as well as national and international establishments and organizations”?

It’s fine to get together with two-hundred to three-hundred people and establish whatever organization one’s heart desires. But calling those like-minded people “delegates” defies logic. They will not be elected by others, and they represent only themselves. Hence, wouldn’t it be preferable to adopt a resolution stating that the said organization represents only itself and speaks only and only on behalf of its members? By demonstrating to the public some tangible work, establishing a track record of achievements, one may gain legitimacy. Even then without a public and transparent process of elected participants no acceptance by the public can be expected. Aren’t the IOC members aware that in the Diaspora the legitimacy of organizations that have existed for more than a century is being questioned?

Some members of the IOC cannot resist the temptation of likening the proposed Congress to the one Boghos Noubar Pasha led. One would wish that they stopped there. Unfortunately, they go on almost forever, lecturing about it and treating the public as an ignorant mass. Do the Congress organizers want to emulate the Pasha? The great Armenian had history of achievements prior to and aside from the Congress. We would advise that pretension be restrained. Furthermore, in the name of yet undisclosed historical justifications some IOC members present personal interpretations of why we failed in the past. Arrbitrary declarations, statements which lack credibility do not attract people; on the contrary,  they sow divisiveness and aversion.

If IOC and the proposed Congress have any chance of success a great deal will depend on drastically revising the draft proposals, resisting the temptation of becoming an overreaching organization, and limiting itself only to the pursuit of our cause through legal means.

  1. 3rd Armenian National Congress?

    On November 2, 2010, interviewing Karen Mikaelyan in Moscow regarding organizing the upcoming Western Armenian National Congress (WANC), Hamo Moskofian posed the question as why call it the third conference. Karen responded as follows, I quote -”Two such Western Armenian Congresses took place shortly before and during the first Republic of Armenia. They dealt with the refugees and presented the Armenian demands to the Peace Conference in Paris. Boghos Nubar Pasha led the mission”.

    On 2010-11-28, I commented on the interview. I quote my comment. “In my view the Armenian representation at the post WWI 1919 Paris Peace Conference was distinct in its representation and timing than the intended the Western Armenian National Conference (WANC). The Armenian delegation was there to present their case to the powers of the day who were meeting to settle their scores after the devastating war. Two prominent Armenian personalities embodied the Armenian delegation Avetis Aharonian and Boghos Nubar Pasha. Boghos Nubar Pasha, a founding member of AGBU, was its President then. He represented the Ottoman or the Western Armenians. His participation was at the behest of the Catholicos of the day. Avetis Aharonian represented the first republic of Armenia. He was a prominent member of the Tashnag Party. I do not expect there will be such representation at the upcoming WANC. The agenda of the Armenian delegation to the Paris Peace conference was not tied only to Western Armenia but to Armenia. Consequently I wonder if it is proper to refer to the upcoming conference as the 3rd National Conference.”

  2. I highly appraise

    I highly appraise the editorial. I agree with 98% of it. I have minor reservations that are irrelevent to the overall constructive and clever approach.

    Keep fighthing, struggling, REASONING and WRITING!


  3. Our Healthy And Humanistic Wish

    Congratulations for KEGHART’s latest editorial of 16/01/2011. Outspoken, dignified and to the point.

    As it is the case for all people, there will never be a full agreement/consent as far as party politics is concerned.  Paradoxically, perhaps because of the utmost tragedy our people dared to survive, the only focal point of consent most of the Armenians agree with is the healthy and humanistic wish that such a magnum crime as Genocide might be acknowledged worldwide, and that the state which claims historical pedigree with the terrorising state that executed the utmost crime plus the total usurpation of the victim’s ancestral homeland, should eventually repay its historical penalty, not only financially but, most crucially, by giving back the ancestral homeland of the victimised people to its lawful descendants of the Exiled Western Armenians.

    Curiously enough, there are those among us, the Armenians, albeit still a minority, who have already resigned of all such lawful historical claims, arguing their case in the name of Reconciliation or Barish  (in Turkish), as if the Armenian and Turkish people are eternal enemies and that the perpetrators of such Nazi-Fascist crimes are the people themselves and  not the ruling powers of the day — the oppressive government executing the crime against humanity,  the genocidal crime against the oppressed, by  exasperating, manipulating and encouraging the lowest of the low of the oppressive regime’s criminal mob obeying their criminal master rulers orders.. 

    Moreover, there are intellectuals, both Armenian and Turkish, who claim that acknowledgement of Genocide is more than sufficient to heal both the Turks and the Armenians of that maladie of trauma. Nothing else, hence full stop. 

    Alas, it will be a complete waist of time to yield to argumentative discourse when faced with ungrateful and anti-historical announcements, not to mention the downright negligence and disregard of the decades long unselfish dedication and crucial input towards the realisation of the above mentioned ‘healthy and humanistic wish’ by many of our best legal experts, intellectuals and historians of the day, some still alive and kicking, especially in the Middle East, the closest geographical place to the usurped Western Armenia.

    Yes, indeed, "Presumption will get Wan-Congress Nowhere". Unless of course WAN-Congress depletes its party political, historical bias and opposition party presumptions and concentrates on establishing a Legal Corpus to facilitate assembling the Exiled Western Armenian World Congress, aiming exclusively at the realisation of majority Armenian agreement/consent for the above mentioned healthy and humanistic wish.

    Wishful thinking? So be it.

    Khatchatur I. Pilikian
    January 17, 2011
    London, UK

  4. Presumptions

    The analysis of Dr. Abrahamian must be read with scrutiny by future organizers of congresses. A congress must have viability and continuity to attain its objectives. I was one of the organizers of the 1979 Paris Congress with Rev. Karnouzian and other prominent Armenians from the Diaspora. Any such organization requires devoted human, financial and relations resources. Do not jump from the plane if you do not have a parachute and if you have it, know how to use it. But before you take the first step, "Mia tsek Haier; Mia tsek Diasporatsiner." There are so many divisions in all walks of life which will become a burden and liability on your shoulders and make your mission difficult to attain.

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