Armenia-Diaspora Relations Explored at Town Hall

Raffi Hovanissian, Dr. Viken Hovsepian and Harut Sassounian during Friday's town hall

ARF’s Dr. Viken Hovsepian urges Armenia Fund to allocate 100 percent of telethon proceeds to Syrian-Armenians as an expression of national unity and the advancement of a national ideology


GLENDALE—The challenges facing Armenia-Diaspora relations was the topic of a town hall meeting organized by the Armenian Bar Association and the Glendale Youth Center on Friday at St. Mary’s Church Hall, where Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian and Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian highlighted the difficulties experienced in the last 21 years bringing together the homeland and Diaspora.

In his remarks Hovsepian told the capacity standing-room only crowd that certain events of national consequence have brought the entire Armenian nation together under one umbrella. He cited the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1965, the 1988 earthquake and the Karabakh conflict as key turning points in recent history that have united the Armenian nation.

Hovsepian continued by emphasizing the need for unity in purpose that has been lacking in the past 21 years since Armenia’s independence.

To achieve this imperative, Hovsepian emphasized that the Armenian nation—the homeland and the Diaspora—need to move forward with a national ideology, which calls for addressing issues based on the national aspirations of all Armenians and taking into consideration the entire Armenian nation.

Harut Sassounian, Dr. Viken Hovsepian, Raffi Hovannisian and ABA chairman Garo Ghazarian

As an example where the absence of a national ideology has threatened and continues to threaten the national security of the entire nation, Hovsepian cited the dangerous Armenia-Turkey protocols, saying the fact that Armenia continues to be a signatory of the documents poses a threat to not only Armenia proper but the entire Armenian nation.

He cited the Syrian crisis as an example of one such incident that sould have brought Armenians from the homeland and Diaspora under the same tent, but instead, he pointed out, it has created a situation whereby the need for financial and relief assistance has outweighed the imperative of national unity.

Hence, Hovsepian urged that 100 percent of the funds to be collected at the Armenia Fund Telethon on Thanksgiving Day be earmarked for the Syrian-Armenian relief efforts. Hovsepian expressed hope that governing board of the Armenia Fund will revisit its current decision of allocating 10 percent of the total donation to Syrian relief efforts and will follow his recommendation ahead of Thursday’s telethon.

Hovsepian emphasized that it was not monetary allocation but rather the expression of unity in purpose that should have galvanized this effort from the onset. The plight of the Syrian-Armenian community in the face of the current audience represents a national challenge, which must be met from pan-Armenian standpoint, emphasized Hovsepian.

In his remarks, Hovanissian focused on the socio-political situation in Armenia, emphasizing the Republic of Armenia cannot become the possession of any political force or individual, adding that Armenia—our homeland—belongs to each and every Armenian.

He expanded on this position by expressing his opposition to the realities that have plagued Armenia since its independence, such as the selling off of the controlling interest in key infrastructures in Armenia, thus diminishing its ability to control the strategically important aspects, such as energy, telecommunications and other industry.

Hovannisian stressed that Armenia has not tapped into its fullest potential to rise from post-Soviet challenges and become a true force to be reckoned with in the international arena.

Hovanissian, who was the first foreign minister of the newly independent Armenia, also pointed to missteps in dealing with critical turning points during the past two decades in bringing together homeland and Diaspora under the same banner.

He said only by taking ownership of one’s destiny and thus one’s homeland can the challenges facing Armenia and the Diaspora be tackled in a practical and positive manner.

The Friday town hall was organized by the Armenian Bar Association and the Glendale Youth Center. On behalf of the Glendale Youth Center, Miganoush Ajemian welcomed those in attendance by highlighting the importance of the topic at hand. ABA chairman Garo Ghazarian also addressed the gathering, expressing his gratitude to the panelists and underscoring the need to confront these challenges from national standpoint.

The discussion was moderated by activist, columnist and publisher of the California Courier Harut Sassounian, who also spoke about the need to bring together all forces in the Diaspora and tap their potential to overcome challenges facing the Armenian nation.

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  1. Kevork said:

    Finally I read something which has some hope. I believe that Armenia/Artsakh needs to start designating certain districts for diaspora Armenians to make the move there easier for diaspora Armenians, similar to what happened after the Genocide. Many in the diaspora feel that if they move there they would not know what to expect or will be accepted or not or be able to integrate into society. If these unknowns were removed, the main obstacles would be out of the way. Unity is the only path to saving our culture from certain death. If we are going to assimilate, might as well do it on our own soil.

  2. GB said:

    We need more diaspora Armenians Like Raffi and Oskanian within Armenia’s political system ASAP!!

  3. Heghapokhagan said:

    I believe the Diaspora Armenian Body (Diaspora Government) should be the same political organizations that has been organizing and executing the Armenian Genocide demonstrations, THROUGHT THE WORLD, since 1965 ….. which are the coalition of 3 Armenian political parties….(The Unity of) Hentchag, Tashnag, Ramgavar