EDITORIAL: When Armenia Turned 21

Asbarez Year-End Special Issue

Armenia turned 21 in 2012. By American standards, turning 21 is a milestone that signifies adulthood. It is at 21 that we shed our adolescence and take stock of our future.

The events of last year, however, signal that the challenges facing Armenia, resulting from missteps and mistakes of the past 21 years, are complex and require the involvement of every Armenian to overcome the obstacles and ensure a healthy future.

The parliamentary elections in May proved, once again, that the authorities are unwilling to loosen the firm grip, with which every election in Armenia has been manipulated. Oftentimes, it seems that to remain in power is far more critical that governance and welfare of the country’s citizens. There is no indication that the 2013 presidential elections will usher in change that can instill hope in the electorate and elevate the country’s democratic standards.

While some government officials claimed that there are markers in place to confront and wage a lasting war against rampant corruption in Armenia, incidents, such as the beating to death of an army doctor at a restaurant or state-guided violence against peaceful demonstrators, indicate that we are far from being adults.

Then there was the Safarov incident, which raised more questions and, due to Azerbaijan’s lack of morals, threatens the fragile peace and prospects for lasting stability in the region. On a positive note, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic continues to advance, with Artsakh’s authorities determined to strengthen the country’s infrastructure and guarantees of security for its citizens.

The Syrian crisis also tested Armenia and its current role as the haven where Armenians around the world can seek refuge. The Syrian-Armenian community is facing one of the most important challenges of its centuries-old existence. While the nation came together to assist Armenians living in Syria, the depth of the situation still alludes those entrusted to make decisions. However, the Armenian nation’s ability to recognize the need to come together to help Syrian-Armenians instills hope that the lessons from this unfortunate reality may strengthen our nation.

During the past 21 years, the Diaspora’s assistance to Armenia has also evolved. With the escalating war in Karabakh and the devastating earthquake, Armenian rose to meet the demands these two concurrent realities had posed. Today, however, the Diaspora’s efforts are more focused and aim to impact lasting change in the country.

Whether it is opening centers that attract young people to advanced technologies, or the execution of programs that provide sustainable results, Diaspora Armenians are engaged in innovative endeavors to elevate Armenia, but more importantly, to instill hope in its new generation.

[This Year-End Special Issue highlights some of those activities that have made a difference at home, as well as the Diaspora’s continued advancement of the Armenian culture to guarantee the survival of the our nation].

The lessons of the past 21 years crystallize the imperative for change,

The challenges facing Armenians, be they here in the US, Syria or in the homeland are not insurmountable. All that’s required is each Armenian’s will, determination and dedication to achieve our aspirations and expand the scope of our activities wherever we live.

Happy New Year.

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