Whither Armenia and the Diaspora?

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

It seems most times when I write a piece that I think is of great importance, the response is… crickets. Yet, I feel compelled to keep addressing such issues, even though they tend to be nerdy, wonky, geeky, etc. All the things that many people don’t care to read, but here goes…

This discussion is meant to be internally, that is Armenian-oriented. Great power games, Turko-Azeri foolishness, economics, etc. should be far from the focus of our thinking. It is born of a recent discussion with my two college roommates. It is only the very roughest of outlines, beginnings, in addressing the issues at hand. And even more, it is a series of inquiries, perhaps even probes. But, it may be that this matter is the most important long-term item on the Armenian agenda, our conclusions impacting us well into the future, probably for at least a century or two.

First, for clarity, let me define what I mean in this discussion when I use the terms Armenia, Diaspora, and Armenian (except if it refers to the language). Armenia refers to it all, the whole kit-and-caboodle – Greater and Lesser Armenia plus Cilicia. Diaspora means every Armenian living outside of Armenia as defined. Armenian means every human who says, in one way or another, “I am Armenian”.

Let’s proceed under the assumption that all Armenians want to persist as such, passing on what we have created over thousands of years so each future generation can add to that legacy.

The question becomes: how is that to happen?

One approach is that we must all, in time, reassemble in Armenia. Of course this means liberation from Turkish occupation at least that part of Armenia which has come to be known as Wilsonian Armenia. This has largely been the approach adopted by almost everyone to date.

Yet, because this approach associates nation with land and borders, it is seen as nationalist. The argument is that nationalism as “invented” in Europe through the 19th century is now a passé ideology, in part because it required borders defining a homeland for a nation. An alternative approach to Armenianness in this case is that each of the many diasporas (note the plural usage which seems to be ever more prevalent in scholarly circles) persists and develops in response to its own locale’s particular conditions.

Quick-and-dirty criticism of each of these approaches:
1- Exceedingly few Armenians have any interest in ever moving from their current places of residence to Armenia, so that cannot be an organizing principle. The reality of Armenians living scattered the world over is being disregarded.
2- If multiple diasporas are to evolve, what makes them Armenian? What connects them to one another and Armenia? When do the differences become so large as to make each one no longer Armenian? Why would any human living in country X want to be anything but a member of the local nation unless there is some greater purpose?

In either case, where and how do our irredenta and pursuit of reparations come into play? Who determines how to proceed? How do the Diaspora(s) and Armenia (especially with Artzakh being a separate republic threatened, albeit indirectly, by the occupying power –Turkey) coordinate on these crucial matters? What becomes of our language? Does the current direction and pace of technological development hold out the hope of answers?

I have some pretty well formed opinions about this fundamentally important matter, but it’s going to take a lot more discussion, both by experts and “mere mortals” before we can come to a consensus as to what our multigenerational direction should be.

What’s your thinking on this? Please contribute your thoughts.

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9 Comments

  1. Hagop said:

    GREAT ARTICLE AND QUESTION GAREN YEGPARIAN! You are finally learning not to talk about Democrat/Republican issues which are less important than Armenia’s!!!

    I am of the OPINION THAT ONE CAN NOT BE TOO IN LOVE WITH A NATION AND STILL LIVE OUTSIDE OF IT! It is SAD AND LUDICROUS TO LEAVE (AND LOVE) ARMENIA AND THEN WANT TO SUPPORT IT! IF YOU LOVE IT THAT MUCH, THEN DON’T LEAVE no matter the circumstances!!! If you leave and go to a foreign nation, then YOUR ALLEGIANCE IS NOW TO THAT NATION AND NO OTHER (AGAIN, MY OPINION).

    REPARATIONS…FORGET IT! ARMENIA IS WEAK ECONOMICALLY, POLITICALLY AND MILITARILY!!! THAT IS THE FAULT OF OUR GREEDY AND CORRUPT ARMENIAN LEADERS AND IDIOT POLITICAL PARTY HEADS! During General Antranig’s charge to fight the Turks and Kurds, he pleaded with the Dashnaks, Ramkavars, Hunchags and Russian Armenians to FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. All nations screwed over Armenia: Russia, USA, France, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Britain. NOBODY HELPED ARMENIA SO IT CAN NOT RELY ON ANYBODY BUT ITSELF!!! UNFORTUNATELY, THEY DID NOT LISTEN TO GENERAL ANTRANIG AND THAT IS HOW WE LOST ERZEROUM (GARIN)!!! THE SAME IDIOTS SIGNED TREATIES WHICH WEAKENED ARMENIA, GAVE UP ITS LANDS, AND BECAME THE SLAVES OF THE TURKS whose intention was to COMPLETELY ERADICATE ARMENIA AND ARMENIANS.

    UNTIL CORRUPTION IS CRUSHED, ARMENIA WILL REMAIN A 3RD WORLD, HELL HOLE WHERE LEADING TO CONTINUING UNEMPLOYMENT, POVERTY, LOW BIRTH RATES AND EMIGRATION!!!

    LANGUAGE: PRESERVE AND SUPPORT WESTERN ARMENIAN LANGUAGE!

    TECHNOLOGY: THERE IS HOPE BUT AGAIN….CORRUPTION. FOR TECH TO FLOURISH, YOU NEED $$$$$$$. IF CORRUPT, THAN NO $$$$$$ TO INVEST IN TECH. CRUSH CORRUPTION. COLLECT TAXES. REINVEST. REPEAT.

  2. Jacque said:

    I enjoy your articles now and then and I try to comment sometimes.
    What you’re talking about is an Armenian dilemma that we often talk about but we’re not serious about it.
    The question is, to go or not to go back and live in our ancestral homland, as it is or if we get the Wilsonian borders, and who would go? I mean which generation? My generation was always prepared somehow of that reality and we lived with that posibility or dream, and that kept us tied to a homland we have never seen and kept us Armenians, but don’t forget also the big role our Genocide survivor grandparents played in always reminding us with what we lost. As the Genocide survivor generation is fading and further in time and locations we’re going, the reality of going back is turning to a far reaching dream , specially with the new generation.
    I’m still hopeful that one day I’ll go to Van, Gars, Mouch and Aradhan as part of Armenia.
    I don’t know what the consensus is amongst my fellow Armenians about going back? and how many of us are willing to go back ? Because a land without people it’s just a wasteland. Are we even being prepared for that outcome?
    Is the new generation willing to go ? Because you can’t populate a country with bunch of middle aged people. Is repopulating the homland on any of our organizations, parties, churches agendas? I think not, the proof is in the Middle East, the closest diaspora to our newly found Armenia. After all the wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria you would think our organizations would have organized a mass repatriation movements to save the Armenian population and take them back to Armenia, but no, with all due respect to our patriarch and political parties, they further duged in and working on rebuilding the Armenian neighborhoods, why?
    First thing Jews did after WWII is getting their homland and move every Jew possible to Israel, why don’t we do the same? The stronger Armenia is the more clout we have over Turkey. We can’t even agree on a common church and language. Why is the seat of Cilicia still in Antelias instead of Armenia? Don’t unify yet but be closer to the lands you’re demanding, that way you lead the people closer to the reality of getting our homland back.
    Why we still don’t have a diaspora congress to represent the Armenian refugees and case in the UN and the world, as the PLO did for years. We the Genocide survivor generation are refugees scattered all over the world after all. Why not use that angle? I don’t know what we’re waiting for, Turkey is not going to willingly hand over our lands, we need to fight for it and ask for it in the UN courts.and tribunes as refugees with no homes, at the borders of Turkey from Armenia.
    The hows to do all this is very clear in mind, but who is interested? Who cares? Who still believes in Ararat Massis? That is the real question.

    • State of Emergency said:

      The independence of Armenia nearly a quarter century ago sealed the fate of the diaspora. They pretty much gave up on the idealism of regaining the lost lands. They became more entrenched in their adoptive countries. Why? Because Armenia did not serve as a promising homeland. It’s indifference to its people, traditions an customs became a big turn off to those willing to resettle their. The corruption and injustice further fueled the distrust and disgust. Ironically, the independence of Armenia actually pushed more Armenians away from each other than connecting them. Most middle east Armenians now choose to live in war torn nations rather than repatriate to Armenia. The hope and dream of a unified greater Armenia died within the last quarter century. The diasporan dream of what Armenia would be and the reality of what Armenia was finished off what had endured for a few decades after the genocide.

  3. Armenian Christ said:

    Unless we go back we will lose whatever it means to be Armenian in a few generations outside of the actual country imo

  4. Fredrick Melkonian said:

    I have just found out that my real surname is Melkonian. I did a genetic test and came up with a positive match with Melik Melkonian. A Melik in Gharadagh, in Iran. I now understand why my grand father changed his surname to a non Armenian Anjo, in order to hide from the Bolsheviks. I may be living in Britain but I have Armenian blood flowing through my veins. 25 years ago when I was talking about a second parliament in Armenia, with Members elected from all Armenians all over the world and Armenia. They were looking at me like I am a completely deranged person. But we the complete sea of Armenian genes, are bigger than any one can fathom. I believe the Armenian nation is the original white caucation race. 12,000 years ago this race colonized much of the world from India to Europe. As a homeland of this vast empire from forgotten times. We have a responsibility towards our genetic brethren. We need to be inclusive. We need to set an example of civilization and culture. We need to be a beacon from the homeland to all caucations and part caucations all over the world. We need to celebrate who we are, and strive for what we can be. Let us once again, make Armenian the greatest language in the world. Let us celebrate, the language of the Pyramid makers. The language of GOD. We are the only people who can bring an end to wars. We alone can usher in the new age of the world. We need to explore the rest of the galaxy, and possibly find galactic neighbors. To do this kind of massive advance and growth right. It has to be done by Armenians. Jews and Americans and Russian have done it completely the wrong way. We need to show them the right way. That is our responsibility, as the original homeland. We can do this by unity and celebration.

    • Hagop said:

      @MELKONIAN

      Your idea of having an international congress of of Diaspora Armenians IN Armenia will not fly with the Armenians and government of Armenia. Why would a government give partial control to people WHO DON’T LIVE THERE!? THAT’S LIKE ME TELLING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN BRITAIN WHAT TO DO FROM WHERE I AM (ANOTHER CONTINENT)! When Armenia became independent, we had Diaspora Armenians in its government AND THE ARMENIANS IN ARMENIA HAD A MELTDOWN!!! THEY WANTED TO RUN THE GOVERNMENT AND LOOK AT THEM NOW AFTER 30 YEARS: NEGATIVE ECONOMY, CORRUPTION, UNEMPLOYMENT, POVERTY, EMIGRATION, WEAK MILITARY!

      NO ARMENIAN FROM THE DIASPORA IS GOING TO PACK UP AND MOVE TO ARMENIA GIVEN ITS CURRENT CONDITION (CORRUPT! POOR! WEAK!). WE are not going to leave our creature comforts to battle Armenia’s problems when we live in countries with PAVED roads, employment opportunities, high speed internet, air conditioning and LAW AND ORDER!

      IF YOU REALLY CARE THAT MUCH ABOUT ARMENIA, BUY A 1-WAY TICKET FROM BRITAIN TO YEREVAN!

    • State of Emergency said:

      And they’re still looking at you like I a completely deranged person…

  5. Raffi said:

    WHATEVER IS OURS IS OURS, be it wasteland or not, ”ALL” countries have wasteland and deserts, and they do not cede an inch of their land, that applies to Armenians too, WHATEVER IS OURS IS OURS,

    • Hagop said:

      @RAFFI

      I BET YOU DO NOT LIVE IN ARMENIA!!!

      ARMENIANS SCREWED THEMSELVES OVER BECAUSE OF DIVISIVENESS AND INTER-CONFLICTS!!! GENERAL ANDRANIK COULD HAVE SAVED ERZURUM (GARIN) IF ONLY THE RUSSIAN ARMENIANS AND OTHER VILLAGE ARMENIANS HELPED HIM BUT THEY DID NOT!!! THEY DID NOT CARE ABOUT TURKISH ARMENIAN PROBLEMS AND SO HERE WE ARE WITH A SLIVER OF WHAT WAS GREAT ARMENIA!! EVEN WITH THIS TINY PIECE OF LAND, THE CORRUPT GOVERNMENT LEADERS ARE KILLING THE PEOPLE AND COUNTRY WITH THEIR CORRUPTION, EMBEZZLEMENT, FRAUD, THEFT, MURDERS, TAX EVASIONS, LAND GRABBING, AND OTHER DISHONORABLE CONDUCT! THEY SHOULD BE TRIED WITH TREASON!

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