Hovannesian Urges Comprehensive Approach to Diaspora Ministry

YEREVAN (ARF Parliamentary Bloc)–Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary president and Bureau member Vahan Hovanessian urged his fellow legislators Monday to carefully think about and comprehensively define the role of the soon-to-be-created Diaspora Ministry.

Hovannesian said that parliament should carefully assess the needs and problems of the Diaspora and the role this ministry will play in addressing these issues.

Earlier this month, the government moved to set up a new ministry that will be in charge of Armenia’s relations with the Diaspora. On Monday, parliament approved the creation of the ministry and will have to send a decision to the government on the new structure’s mission and responsibilities.

Armenia’s relations with the Diaspora have until now been coordinated by a special department existing within the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan.

“Our agenda item is the organization of the Diaspora and the preservation of the Armenian identity. We need to create favorable conditions for this. Our main objective is to strengthen the bond between Armenia and our brethren in the Diaspora,” said Hovannesian.

The ARF bloc leader urged parliament to draw a distinction between the current and welcome trend of repatriation and the haphazard relocation of people to Armenia in the early part of the Communist rule

“We have complex realities to deal with vis-a-vis our compatriots in the Diaspora, some of whom are forced, by the internal situation of their native countries, to repatriate to Armenia,” explained Hovannesian bring the recent wave of Armenia’s from Iraq and Iran’settling in Armenia.

Hovannesian said that parliament needed to clearly delineate the function of the proposed ministry and asked whether it was the responsibility of this ministry to find employment for the newly repatriated Armenia’s and what role the ministry would play in the acculturation and acclimation processes of these newly settled compatriots.

He proposed that the newly-formed structure be called “Diaspora Relations and Repatriation” Ministry, as opposed to “Diaspora Issue” as has been proposed.

Hovannesian urged his fellow lawmakers to also take into consideration the pivotal role the Diaspora has played in preserving the concept of statehood and understand that the current Armenian republic would not exist without the Diaspora’s role during Armenia’s Communist rule.

He compared the Diaspora-Armenia relations to the Israeli model, where national interests are at the forefront for both entities.

Debates on the formation of the new ministry will continue in Parliament.

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