Wrong Priorities, Again

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA USA, 15 August 2011

Let me state the fact plainly so as to spare people the time and effort to accuse me: I do have a perverse sense of humor. Or, is it a perverse sense of values?

Recently, I learned (and read in one of the Armenian newspapers) that a former Armenian Ambassador to Her Majesty’s Government (he was also a former Prime Minister of Armenia) and a collection very wealthy Armenians from around the world made a big show of contributing much money to an Armenian charity and to a pet project of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and the heir to the throne.

Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA USA, 15 August 2011

Let me state the fact plainly so as to spare people the time and effort to accuse me: I do have a perverse sense of humor. Or, is it a perverse sense of values?

Recently, I learned (and read in one of the Armenian newspapers) that a former Armenian Ambassador to Her Majesty’s Government (he was also a former Prime Minister of Armenia) and a collection very wealthy Armenians from around the world made a big show of contributing much money to an Armenian charity and to a pet project of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and the heir to the throne.


There were the usual photos taken with His Highness (and with other Royals), all of which are now hanging in prominent places in their homes. “That’s me with. . . .” and “That’s me with. . . .”

What brought a smile to my lips was reading a report that when the BBC did a feature on His Highness’s project, the contributions of the Armenians––the Reception, the photo sessions, etc––were never mentioned. The report to me didn’t say if any other wannabe group’s contributions were mentioned, but that is not the point. What is the point is that these same wannabes probably don’t know what else is going on in London.

It is a reflection on the mentality of the crooks and thieves and thugs who run Armenia that not one of their officials has, for instance, visited the British Library to see the magnificent Armenian collection––reportedly second only to that in Yerevan––although they did manage to get to Buckingham Palace. Why is that such an indictment? Because, in its infinite wisdom, the British Library is closing down the entire Christian Middle East collection––the work of the greatest living Armenian, Rev. Nerses Nersessian (who was not invited to the Gala, I would wager), who is retiring after 35 years as the head of the section.

I am told that during the period of Soviet Armenia, visiting officials always made it a requirement that they must visit the British Museum, which housed the collection prior to the building of the present Library. No doubt, the Republic’s officials feel that since they can’t make any money from the collection why waste time visiting, when there are casinos to go to.

As for the wannabes who now can name-drop “Prince Charles” in their conversations, I, also, wonder if they care that the British Museum has committed a major insult to the Armenians and Armenian culture. It has removed from display an ancient khatchkar donated to the British Museum by the late Catholicos Vazken.

It was removed once before at the urging of the then Turkish Ambassador. When the officials of the Museum were reminded that in accepting the donation, the Museum agreed to DISPLAY OR RETURN the khatchkar, the khatchkar was returned to display because “we don’t return anything.”

Whether or not the present Turkish ambassador has anything to do with this removal––the Museum, in a letter to me, denies it (“but they would, wouldn’t they?”)––my efforts for its restoration (or return) will continue. I know it would be fruitless to contact the wannabes to enlist their support, so I will fight the battle in my way. If being with His Highness didn’t get them coverage on the BBC, fighting on behalf of Armenian culture certainly will not.

But, just think (he says to himself, with that smile) what would happen if the rich Armenians led by the former Ambassador/Prime MInister were to march on the British Museum and say: “Display or Return!” Imagine the BM’s quandary. Every Hellen from 1000 miles around Britain would be demanding the return of the Elgin Marbles! But, I am digressing.

Why do I smile when I hear these sorts of reports? Because I assume a smug, self-satisfied––Yes, conceited––attitude that I am the only one who gives a damn about the important things concerning Armenia and things-Armenian. To my knowledge, the khatchkar is the only thing-Armenian at the Museum, and it should be on display, not consigned to the basement.

It is a simple statement of fact that more people will see the magnificent Armenian collection in London than will ever see the one in Yerevan. If the British Museum and the British Library get their way––and, they will, rest assured––it will be a greater tragedy than the omission of any reference to the wannabe Armenians at the Reception with Prince Charles and their contribution to his Dumfries House restoration project.

That restoration will happen without a penny from the Armenians, but what of the insult to the ancient culture of the Armenians by the British Museum and the British Library? Will those who contributed to Prince Charles’s project now ask him to fight the battle for the restoration of the khatchkar and of the Christian Middle East collection? Do pigs fly?

That smile has now gone from my face.

4 comments
  1. Self-serving Moguls

    Unfortunately, you are perfectly correct. These self-serving Armenian "moguls" are contributing to the erosion of any and all Armenian values that have been established especially since the Genocide for the purpose of preserving the Armenian identity as well as to make the world aware of our presence. These thoughtless, greedy and selfish "moguls" unfortunately confirm the Armenian adage:  "Poshan khanum ch’ullar". 

  2. Our Moguls

    Congratulations. Well-written and to the point article. Many readers would have been in the dark about this incredible and ridiculous episode had the author not explored it.

    When so many Diaspora Armenians, living in almost-recessionary times, are sending a part of their often heavily-taxed incomes to help the Motherland, including, of course, Artsakh, the egotistic largesse of these plaudits-seekers is painful, to say the least.

  3. King William III of England,Scotland, and Irlenad,an Armenian Go

    “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate. He made them high and lowly and ordered their estate”. Humanitarian deeds today have assumed such importance as a must-be-seen-to-be doing-it activity for the rich and the famous. From the obligatory royal photo-op with the homeless to the ubiquitous images of white female celebrities cradling African babies, exhibitionist “caring” is as essential a marker of wealth and celebrity as signature scents and personal assistants”(Priyamvada Gopal, Philanthropy that Chokes)

    The Dumfries House project is not a charity project but a determined effort to restoring a monument of British Cultural Heritage. In a recent BBC I programme called “ Britain’s Hidden Heritage” the presenter Paul Martin interviewed Prince Charles on the project. In the entire half an hour programme not a single reference was made to ‘Erevan My Love’ and ‘Dumfries House’ project. Why should he? A total of 40 million pounds is needed to restore the house to its former glory brick by brick, item by item. To restore a chair in the house you would spend as much money as you would if one were to build a school or hospital in Armenia.

    The last owner of Dumfries House was the Marquess of Bute who on the 13 of June 1983,through Sotheby’s auctioned forty-two illuminated manuscripts. Among the manuscripts was an Armenian Gospel illuminated in Constantinople in 1694,that once belonged to King William III, King of England, Scotland and Ireland. This manuscript painted by one of the most significant Armenian artists was purchased for the British Library’s by its curator Rev. Dr. Vrej Nersessian. It is ironic that the saving from “Captivity” of this Armenian cultural heritage was the first down payment for the restoration of a British Hidden Heritage. I am sure had the former ambassador and prime minister and initiator of “Yerevan my Love” project known this fact it would have raised his ‘aura of piety tremendously. But in order to have that ‘aura’ one should first respect and honour its own. In the picture ‘must-be-seen-to-be-doing pious deeds’ the Catholicos of All Armenians,the single and only elected representative of the entire Armenian nation since 301, is made to stand as far away from the ‘privatised humanitarians’ as possible. The head of the Armenian people should not be made to look so ‘lowly’ and so ‘poor’.

    One of the most frequent needs of sponsors and commissioners of cultural heritage is that they must be “free and clear” from monetary obligations, or that it must be commissioned or sponsored with his halal (honestly earned) assets. One sponsor hoped that the Gospel he commissioned to be copied in AD 887 would serve as “ intercessor for my children and for the purification of souls and that of my wife, in order that we may enjoy mercy on the day of his coming”.
     

  4. I think the author is being

    I think the author is being too simplistic. Of course there are less-than-savoury characters in charge in Armenia, there is organised crime there, and businesses and politicians are not as separate as they could be, and all that. No denying that the state of affairs is unpleasant.

    However, coming to the matter at hand, I would like to hear more details about the British Library’s closure of its Christian Middle East section. Who had set it up, who had funded it, and what is causing it to close? Is it a part of the general financial troubles these days? Was there an endowment that is running out? The details make a great deal of difference and they could be very reasonable, not necessarily the result of conspiracies by Armenians or Turks. Discovering the details might also suggest ways to avoid the closure.

    Also, the British Museum displays the face and hand of our pagan goddess Anahit as well, what remains of an ancient statue discovered near today’s Khor Virap in Armenia. The khachkar is by far not the only item related to Armenians and our history and culture there.

    I can assure the author that there are plenty of people concerned with Armenian things in the UK and beyond. Articles such as this one can go a long way to directing efforts to our benefit, but it would be nice if they were more comprehensive and more constructive.

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