Western Armenian Mission: Just Demands

Hamo Moskofian, Moscow, 2 November 2010

The quarterly meeting of the International Organizing Committee (IOC) of the proposed Western Armenian National Congress (WAN-C) in Sèvres in September 2010 was devoted primarily to organizational and financial matters in anticipation of the conference to establish the said entity in the near future.
IOC members and guests from Armenia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Lebanon, Russia, and USA participated in the two-day event.  Individuals from Latin America could not attend because of unexpected and last-minute circumstances.

Following the Sèvres meeting, we interviewed Karen Mikaelyan, executive director of the IOC, in Moscow.

Hamo Moskofian, Moscow, 2 November 2010

The quarterly meeting of the International Organizing Committee (IOC) of the proposed Western Armenian National Congress (WAN-C) in Sèvres in September 2010 was devoted primarily to organizational and financial matters in anticipation of the conference to establish the said entity in the near future.
IOC members and guests from Armenia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Lebanon, Russia, and USA participated in the two-day event.  Individuals from Latin America could not attend because of unexpected and last-minute circumstances.

Following the Sèvres meeting, we interviewed Karen Mikaelyan, executive director of the IOC, in Moscow.

Hamo Moskofian: As political and state official in Soviet Armenia for many years and as one of the unofficial spokesmen for more than 2.5-million-strong Armenian community in Russia, what are your national concerns at present?

Karen Mikaelyan: The continuous process of assimilation, the closing down of schools, newspapers, national establishments, benevolent organizations etc. are all serious matters. We need re-organize before it’s too late.

HM: In your view what should be the goal of the Armenian Diaspora?

KM: The Armenian Diaspora is the result of centuries-long massacres, the Genocide and deportation of Western Armenians from our motherland. The majority of Diasporan population has Western Armenian roots. They are the descendants of the survivors of the Genocide. There is the unfinished judicial process of the Armenian Cause. The main reason for our failures and losses in the past has been disorganization. Our aim is to organize the Diaspora.

HM: Aren’t other organizations already performing that task?

KM: The lobbying efforts in Washington, Paris and elsewhere, the process of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US Congress, the thankful work that "Hye Tad" and other American-Armenian organizations are performing constitute an incomplete struggle because they don’t tackle the issue of the just demands of Western Armenians. Let’s consider for a moment that America and Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide. Then what? Nobody knows what would follow such recognition.
The Armenian authorities cannot think about the "then" because Armenia lacks the strength to dictate its demands on Turkey. The struggle for just demands is the mission of the Western Armenians, and in order to accomplish it there is need to create an authorized body or establishment. There must be an invitation for a 3rd National Congress. We must create a representative body, an NGO. This requires a huge effort.

HM: Why is it called the 3rd National Congress?

KM: 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.

The Treaty of Sèvres, recognized by the Great Powers of the day, met the Armenian demands, but we could not acquire what was ours because we did not have an army to defend our rights. Afterwards the process of pursuing our demands halted when Armenia became a Soviet republic.

Previous attempts to organize the Diaspora have ended in failure because of internal disputes and struggles as to who would lead the Diaspora. We took a step to organize The Western Armenian Congress leaving aside partisan and marginal disputes.

HM: Would you like to say anything further regarding the recent organizational conference in Sèvres for the establishment of the Western Armenian Congress?

KM: It seems absurd, but this movement started in Russia, by Russian-speaking Western Armenians. They are mostly intellectuals. Efforts are underway to organize a conference in Sèvres in the spring of 2011. The various Diaspora communities have to decide who to send as delegates, each community according to its local traditions and circumstances. At the conference we plan to prepare the organizational, financial and ideological documents and a list of our demands, which following the discussions will be transferred to the realm of the highest bodies of international law.

After 90 years of interruption, we must resume the struggle to pursue our just demands.

  1. Armenian National Congress

    Thank you to Mr. Moskofian for the interview. I wish he had also asked how  the Congress is being financed. The preliminary meetings at various sites in Europe and the upcoming spring 2011 conference must cost a substantial amount of money.
  2. “Internal Diaspora” needs to earn our trust in the west

    It’s welcome news that finally somebody, an Armenian organization is putting matters front and centre, i.e. "the struggle to pursue our just demands" at the "highest bodies of international law". Yes, it seems ironic that the initiative has started with Russian-Armenians rather than the traditional Diaspora in the west. Is it because our parties and organizations couldn’t get their acts together or was it because of too much foreign interference in our internal affairs that made such a move impossible?

    There are some unavoidable conceptions that are hard to ignore. Since "independence" in 1991 our brethren in Armenia have not been able to inspire the rest of us in the traditional Diaspora. Furthermore they have acted in such an irresponsible way that confidence in them has totally eroded. I cite this latter matter because by extension – probably a mistransference – our compatriots in Moscow or the "internal Diaspora" too are affected by this perception. They have to work hard to earn the trust of the rest of the Diaspora.

    Good luck! 

  3. The question “can we trust?” is out of question

    My Armenians, we are the brothers from the same family, though we live in various countries, and we all know WHY.  We must be together concerning the task of HAY DAT. We know what to say to each other, and what to say to the world TOGETHER, and we must, and we  can be TOGETHER.

    What about Karen Mikaelyan. I am a witness of what kind of great efforts he put in for organizing for all ARMENINS in the world to be TOGETHER. I very highly appreciate it.

    With heartfelt gratitude,

    Marine Vahradyan

    Chief of  "Vaspurakani Nor Serund" Compatriotic Union

  4. Western Armenian Congress

    The body came about after organisation in each local [Armenian] community around the world.

    At this point the only representative political authorities are the Armenian political parties, but I think this organizing committee believes otherwise.

  5. Much remains to be done

    This effort appears to be yet another attempt to organize the Diaspora on a global scale. One would want to know more about the purpose of this organization to make a determination for support.

    Still, such an organization remains the principle goal of the Diaspora and Armenia.

  6. The greatest national needs at this time

    Thank you for your e-mail(s). Much needs to be done but there are no real doers it seems. The small scale individual cooperation that you mentioned in one of your recent articles is a very viable one and realizable and it should be started immediately but alongside, we certainly need the big elusive one for having some clout politically, legally and financially worldwide.

    It is true that there are a few attempts underway at "uniting" the Armenians but somehow we need to streamline all these organizations into one body in order to have some consitency of direction and action. The existing ones need not dissolve and the traditional ones have to fall in line with our greater national needs within this set up, particularly at this very late time. We need to remember that the vast majority of the public especially the new generation are non affiliated with any group.

    What are the greatest national needs at this time?

    1) Pushing for the recognition of the genocide by all countries.

    2) Starting a national endowment fund.

    3) Going on record by the RA government and the whole diaspora union, the non-acceptance of the kars treaty.

    4) Pursuing the revival and implementation of the sevre treaty (as I believe turkey is a signing participant?)
    5) Reviving the implementation of the wilsonian armenia.

    6) Establishing close ties with the hamshentsis and all other people of armenian origin in turkey.

    7) Establishing close ties with the kurds.

    8) Establishing a network of watchdog committees or groups scrutinizing all anti-armenian activity, news and reports in the press, TV or radio and the internet. Of greater importance is the historic and geographic map publications where mention of armenia and/or its presence in history is either completely ignored or distorted. These groups should have immediate access to the press for putting the record straight and presurizing such publications to be revised.

    9) Dealing immediately with the political, economic and social conditions in Armenia with a view to stopping the

    excessive emmigrations.

    10)Strict financial scrutiny must be implemented on all donations, transections etc.

    One can go on and I am aware that each point needs to be worked on but I believe the above touches on the gist of the problems. How can the above be implemented?

    Much has already been written on the how of things. We should not get rutted into one way of doing things, whichever is the effective and practical that’s the way to go.

    The "top" executive by itself should not have power over decisions, every decision should be voted on by the entire group (sub-divisions/ committees etc. etc. and as much of the public as possible should vote on decisions as well. This may be accomplished by a secure internet voting system. Each member may have an id and password and can vote only once from a designated computer.

    I also believe that positions should be honorary and limited to only two years.

    People have thought this is impossible and so far we have found ourselves in front of an impossiblity. The only thing we need for something like this to succeed is people with a desire to succeed and people who really understand that unless we do something different from what has been done so far, we are in the last hours of everything armenian.



    1. Responding to Reader “A”
      Dear Reader,

      Thank you for your important letter. You sound like our old friend, the former Speaker and Ambassador Ara Papyan. As veteran activist with 35 years of experience, I would like to comment about the subjects you kindly analyzed.

      1. We have excellent historical books and archives, in addition to historians and academicians, but very few "soldiers" on  the ground to work with contemporary issues, specially the matter of our re-found and vast army of "lost" Armenians in Western Europe and in Western Armenia. We have but few missionaries who have dedicated their lives to one of today’s most important issues. and these apostles of the Armenian nation are not preoccupied with old- and long-dead treaties which brought more tragedies to our nation, and which made us scapegoats on the big chessboard of 20th century international politics.

      2. For us, Middle Eastern Armenians, mentioning President Woodrow Wilson means  reminding our neighbouring Arabs the political figure who also created, with Lord Balfour, the Jewish state. We are alive today, specially the Cilician Armenians, because of the hospitality of the Arabs. And let’s not forget that  Western Armenian national liberation movements of the ’70s and the ’80s were backed by Palestinians whose leaders were mostly Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic. So in these very sensitive days we must be very careful about what we write so that the Armenians of the Middle East don’t wind up in the same situation as Assyrians of Iraq.

      Hamo Moskofian
      Mainz, Germany

  7. Western Armenian

    Жаль, что вы решили рекламировать заклятого врага карена микаеляна, создателя с помощью и деньгами жидов Лондона Ара Абрамяна и всегда вредит интересам армянского народа. Он мой однокурсник и в день 50 лет геноцида ребята ломали его зубы и не добыли до конца. Армяне церковью превратились в барашек и любой враг армянского народа свободно пользуется этим обстоятельством уже несколько тысяч лет. Вы представляете какого мнения о вашем сайте будут знающие Нарена, Ара, и тому подобных. Если вы внимательно ознакомились бы с материалами нашей газеты «МТОРУМ» , тогда может быть одумались бы, не стали бы
  8. 3rd National (Armenian) Conference?

    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.

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