Diasporan and Armenian Party Reps Speak At Armenia Diaspora Conference

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Representatives of major Diasporan political parties and parliamentary parties and blocs of Armenia expressed their viewpoints at the morning plenary meeting of the Armenia-Diaspora Conference Thursday. At the conclusion of the session two communiques were issued–the texts of which will be published in tomorrow’s edition.

Garo Armenian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation emphasized that the two most important issues in Armenia are Armenia’s economy and its foreign policy.

Armenian stated that those aspects were used as leverage by international forces which are operating in the Caucasus today.

"Today Armenia needs foreign state credits–including credits of international financial organizations–to support its economy," Armenian said. He said that Armenia must accept the Diaspora as a political force as well.

"Relationship in the context of the existing interests of the region–proceeding from their needs–may gradually bring our state to the status of a hostage country–which will deprive it of the right to conduct negotiations over Karabakh with a position of strength," he said.

In Armenians opinion–this situation may happen if the Armenian side proves unable to ensure modern economic–political and most importantly defense structures.

"Our statehood will break this vicious circle when the "Armenian side" notion will absorb the Diaspora as a political force as well," he said.

Vahrich Jerejian of the Social Democratic Hunchakian party called for new measures to achieve economic improvemen’s in Armenia–stop migration–organize lobbying and improve the living standards of people working in the fields of culture and science. One of the major task for each Armenian today is to preserve and defend Artsakh. Dual citizenship–which is advocated by the party–is a serious issue that requires serious consideration.

Khachik Adamian of the Ramkavar-Azatakan Party stressed the solution to the Karabakh problem should be acceptable to not only Armenia’s of Karabakh–but also Armenia and the Diaspora. Adamian expressed satisfaction with the efforts of the Armenian government in gaining international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He stated that the Armenian Apostolic Church must be made subordinate to the superiority of the Mother See of St. Etchmiadzin–preserving the Great House of Cilicia within its original confines. Adamian stressed the need for a common dialect. Dual citizenship–in his opinion–needs thorough examination and before this issue is solved the provision banning dual citizenship must be withdrawn from the Constitution of Armenia.

Communist leader Sergey Badalian stated that the Communist Party of Armenia has an unequivocal standing that "our statehood and independence must become stronger from day to day; Armenia must become one of the most civilized and democratic states in the world."

Vahan Hovanessian representing the ARF faction in the Armenian parliament–stressed the importance of flexible mechanisms of work with various Diasporan communities in developing relations with the Diaspora. According to him–the idea of the Armenian Cause should become the essential idea to ensure the flourishing of the national life of the Armenian communities abroad and creating due living conditions for Armenia’s.

In his speech leader of the National Democratic Union Vazgen Manoukian referred to the importance of competition in all spheres of international life–as delay will mean defeatism and lagging behind the world progress.

Representative of the Armenian community of Lebanon–ARF member Hratch Dasnabedian stressed the importance of directing joint efforts of Armenia’s residing both in Armenia and in the Diaspora "towards improving the socio-economic situation in Armenia and preserving the Diaspora." Dasnabedian said the Diaspora can render both political and economic assistance to Armenia.

"In particular–if the Armenian authorities consider it untimely to bring up the subject of regaining the Armenian borders of 1920–let it keep silence," Dasnabedian said. "But–the Diaspora can assume the role of the spokesman for such national deman’s."

Addressing the Armenia-Diaspora forum on September 23–Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan presented the new realities of the country’s life.

Today–Armenia is no longer a symbolic motherland but a really independent country with its achievemen’s and difficulties. Armenia has now solved two of its three major problems: it won the imposed war and established internal political stability–which is the guarantee of solving the vital problems in the future.

However–there is also a third major problem: the reality is that at present Armenia needs economic upheaval equally as badly as it once needed to win the war. As the struggle has now shifted from the battlefield onto the economic field–it is necessary to alter the strategy as well: it is necessary to pass from aid on to full-scale cooperation and to give our relations a more effective–organizational shape.

According to the prime minister–"confidence and tolerance are needed above all and these impulses should come from the Motherland primarily." Reforms should be started inside the country–and as an initiative the Government of Armenia declares:

1. The Government not only can but must and is ready to take the Diaspora as an equal partner.

2. The Government is ready to introduce financial and tax changes as far as necessary.

3. The Government acknowledges that the invested capital does not possess the sense of national commitment even if it is owned by ethnic Armenia’s. Cooperation with the Motherland should be economically lucrative.

4. The Government appreciates the fact that if no rules of fair and proper use of means are developed and enforced and the public is not duly informed–then no monetary funds will be allocated.

Sargsyan said that the Government has launched a number of concrete measures in order to ensure the transparency of financial and economic processes:

1. A governmental commission led by the Prime Minister has been set up to supervise the use of credits–gran’s and humanitarian aid. The government and the prime minister personally will from now on be responsible for any untargeted use or misappropriation of loans–gran’s or other aid.

2. A commission has been set up jointly with the National Assembly to look into a number of controversial and ill-fated loan programs–to expose those responsible and to prevent similar phenomena in the future.

3. An anti-corruption program is being developed in cooperation with the World Bank and the US Embassy. The prime minister said that bribery in Armenia has reached considerable size–"but it isn’t as serious as we ourselves are inclined to picture it."

The prime minister also said that an Armenian Development Agency has been set up and will start to operate within the next 5-6 months to render a system of services to support both foreign and domestic investors. The Agency will become a center where every investor may have his problems settled. Diasporan Armenia’s and citizen of Armenia must be equally represented among the top officials of the Agency.

Vazgen Sargsyan said that–ever since Armenia gained independence–the authorities have established ties mainly with well-known organizations and persons of the Diaspora ignoring the numerous successful individuals–especially among the youth. Among such people are those who must be linked to the economic initiatives of Armenia. A standing commission for economic development is expected to be set up to coordinate these and other similar issues. Half of this commission will be represented by Diasporan Armenia’s–who will also hold key positions in it.

The prime minister reported that on the initiative of World Bank President James Wolfensohn–the Government of Armenia and the World Bank will jointly organize a world forum of Armenian businessmen in 2000. Many of the participants in the Armenia-Diaspora forum will be invited to attend this forum.


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