To Move, or Not, and Where?


Last weekend was an incredibly busy one.  Along with being jam packed with Armenian and other activities, a very touchy, and fantastically important, issue (or set of related issues) seemed to keep coming up.

Friday night found me at Burbank’s monthly dinner. Saturday started with the annual Burbank-LA-Glendale community hike in the Verdugo Mountains followed by the local Sierra Club Outings Assembly, after a brief respite, Harry Vorperian’s exhibit opening, and capped off by the fundraising event for the AYF Camp’s renovation.  Sunday, opened with a Sierra Club hike, followed by yet another art exhibit, this time photos from Ara and Vahe Oshagan’s book, and closed with work on The Genocide Project’s survivor interview tapes.

I bored you with that list to get you into the right frame of mind— battered by running from place to place, and being challenged with, tersely phrased, “Why haven’t you moved to Armenia (to be understood as the Republic) yet?”  Of course the subtext was always “put your body where your mouth always is”.  And those confronting me had a valid point.

Why haven’t more of us, Diasporans that is, up and moved to the Republic of Armenia?  Of course the leadership there has been less than welcoming, taking its sweet time to adopt paths to dual citizenship.  Then there’s the sneering attitude towards the Diaspora that claims we can’t have a stake, or at least a say, in OUR country unless we move there, regardless of how much we do outside in support of the RoA, Artsakh, and Javakhk; not to mention sustaining our communities in dispersion so assistance to the homeland can be maintained for as long as is necessary; and, just as importantly, working on issues of Western Armenia, not exclusively Genocide recognition.  Unfortunately, the worldview of leaders in Armenia is far from broad enough.

So the onus is on us.  We have to find ways of driving policy in the RoA in the right direction (e.g. no more Protocols-like fiascoes).  We have to help with economic development in the three political entities Eastern Armenia currently openly Armenian populated.  We have to be advocates of these polities in foreign capitals.  And, all this must we do while working on the liberation of Western Armenia.

The last point led me to counter-challenge my “tormentors” last weekend with, “why not move to Western Armenia?” Of course this was pooh-poohed as unrealistic because “no progress can be realized there in the near future”.  That was the basic argument.  Yet they had no response when I cited a parallel situation— our mindset on the eve of the Soviet Union’s collapse.  Why should we be caught flat-footed again should the opportunity arise to reclaim our Turkish-occupied lands?  Why not reestablish our presence there (I am reminded of Hilmar Kaiser’s prediction that within his lifetime, an Armenian presence would be reestablished in Western Armenia)?  Why not intermarry with the still-indigenous, forcibly Islamicized, Armenians and start building bridges with that otherwise lost segment of our nation?  Why is Eastern Armenia more important than Western?  We have focused almost exclusively on the former at the expense of the latter for the last two decades.  It’s time to establish a more balanced approach.  That’s why activities such as the reparations conference held at UCLA last month are so important.

We should be working our way back home— economically, culturally, politically, socially, and physically.  We should be developing orchards in Chork Marzban and Charentsavan, building homes (even ones intended just for summer use) in Hark and Hadroot, and setting up factories in Akhalkalak and Ardahan.  Please, engage in this return, as much as you can by lobbying, visiting, and even moving, to whichever sector of home most tugs at your heartstrings.


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  1. John Deran Boyajian said:

    GAREN YEGPARIAN, has stirred my inner being. How would I go about emmigrating to Turkey, buy land, build a house, start a business, join a church? Can we start a discussion of this process? Can we publish articles and hold conferences? Would such a conversation cause a new vector to be created in the human landscape?

  2. Hye4Life said:

    great piece, yes we should focus on moving back to homeland. As i look around things are keep getting worse and worse in here. The cost of living is going up and it seems that city of glendale is doing all its best push “us” out. They have just raised the utility bills, the rent is on the rise in Glendale too. All thanks to the fact that we couldn’t elect armenian city council. But the bigger issue of course is not glendale city council or rising utitily bills, as a nation we sould be focusing to building stronger Armenia, and that starts living and working at homeland.

  3. Haig said:

    I may be wrong, but moving to Western Armenia today seems “far fetched”
    If we moved today, we would
    1. have to pay taxes in turkey
    2. have to start from ground zero on developing an economy
    3. have no defense against turkey (even Eastern Armenia has troops on the border)
    4. have to think how many Armenians would actually go under the current conditions.
    Don’t get me worng, it would be a dream come true to one day own those lands again.

  4. Maria said:

    I remember a few years back a Lebanese-Armenian said to a friend of mine that he couldn’t possibly move to the existing Republic of Armenia – you know, the one with recognized borders, state institutions, schools and universities, hospitals, theaters,etc. – because it wasn’t his “real” homeland. His ancestors were from Western Armenia. And besides, he went on to say, the present-day Republic of Armenia is so backward, who could possibly live there? I have been to Western Armenia and have seen with my eyes the destroyed remains of our heritage, where there is a heavy Kurdish population, most living in more backward conditions then in Armenia. I am curious…would Armenians from around the world who dream of that Utopian homeland move there? While my heartstrings might ache for the villages of my grandparents in Western Armenia, my/our reality dictates something else. Most of us don’t think that we can adapt to life in Armenia and now we might consider moving to lands occupied by Turkey? Interesting theory but highly improbable taking into consideration the hundreds of thousands of Armenians globally who haven’t even stepped foot in present-day Armenia or Artsakh.

  5. Mariam said:

    Happy to see someone stand up and discuss this matter,in a recent T.V interview on U.S.A Armenia Mr. H. Sassoonian was asked by the host why the Armenian Diaspora considers itself odar wherever they lived?.
    The protocols with the historical fact finding commission, and dropping the terrtorial demand, and opening the borders, meant to send a blow to the Diaspora,and it did.I meet Turkish citizens who live in the states,when they know I’m Armenian they say Turkey belongs to both Armenians and Turks,but when I meet a Hayastanyan they tell me why you want to go Armenia?

  6. mko Kaynakjian said:

    Twenty years after the much dreamt independence of Armenia, and only a trickle of Armenians have returned and participated in “nation-building”. Why? It’s not because the RA government isn’t accomodating, or the fact that there are cultural differences or slight linguistic problems, NO, these are all smokescreens to mask the fact that all our partriotic bluster and bravado is EMPTY, HOLLOW RHETORIC!!!!!

    It is that simple. And are you serious about “returning to western Armenia”? You wouldn’t be returning because you were never there!! Those who say that the current Republic of Armenia isn’t their true “homeland” are self-delusional and exucse me for saying so – hypocrites.

    Present day Armenia, is what we have; it’s the outcome of the historical development of both east and west Armenia. We had better step up to the plate and get involved in its survival and development.

    Armenia must be the focus of our energies and resources. Build a strong and vibrant Armenia and all else will follow…

  7. amb said:

    — Real service not lip service.

    It is interesting how the talk of liberation and moving to Western Armenia started almost as soon as RA became free and independent and so made possible for Armenians to actually move there. This talk of liberation and repatriation to Western Armenia, as mentioned in many of the commentaries above, is a unrealistic expectation and effort. It muddies the urgent and important issues we need to focus on. What makes people think that people would move to Western Armenia when only a small number from the Diaspora were willing to move to RA after its liberation. Same thing will happen to Western Armenia.

    We seem not to be able to think clearly. We get issues confused, get lost in wishful thinking, magical thinking, not based on reality of things as they are but what we image the world should be like. It certainly does not help our cause. Actually, it pushes it back, and it makes our adversaries glad when we shoot ourselves in the foot.

  8. Z said:

    While it sounds good in theory, and very romantic, it’s a very naive plan. To go to western armenia and find an indigenous armenian bride is a good idea, it’s good for you and it’s like you save her and take her to better places and so on..

    But to move back and live in the middle of nowhere? And how are you gonna make money there?
    I think it’s just fine that we are all over the world. It’s like we have a network, but we should strive to collaborate better with each other, support each other, promote armenian buisness, entrepreneurship, make money, promote higher education and help out our brothers back home.

  9. raffi said:

    yes sir! this is the correct approach.
    Our ancestors never stepped foot in Yerevan, why should we move there? No.
    The right adress to move is Turkey, the land where our ancestors lived for hundreds and hundreds of years before being FORCIBLY moved out. The right answer to talat and enver pasha is to MOVE BACK, as if to say: “no you didn’t succeed in terminating Armenian presence on these lands”.

  10. Harut said:

    Ok i’m all for it lets set up a factory or even a shops build custom cars let all the other countries buy the custom cars or custom car parts right from Ardahan or Arsax or Axlkalak any one that has interest or knows some one that is willing to put up the money i have a custom body kit for diferent cars that we can produce them in our Arsax javaxk or Xarabax help the economy there any one with interest can contact me thru my web site for more details.

  11. mko Kaynakjian said:

    Hey Raffi,

    So don’t move to the Republic of Armenia…no one is forcing you to do so. But please stop spewing your rhetorical and self-delusional patriotism. It’s pathetic. You and those of your ilk can keep dreaming in your little ghettos in the Spyurk and get your hormones buzzing periodically with such oratory. Moving to Armenia would get you that much closer to the occupied lands. But that’s were you fail to “put up or shut up.

  12. mko Kaynakjian said:

    “Why is Eastern Armenia more important than Western? We have focused almost exclusively on the former at the expense of the latter for the last two decades.” ??????????????????

    What is Yegparian talking about??????????

    What exactly has been “your” focus??? What have you done??????????

    Please stop talking out of the top of your head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    There are 3 million Armenians living in the RoA, and a scattering of converted or hidden Armenians in Turkey.

    I guess that’s why we have focused the little we have on the RoA……..GET IT????