GRANADA HILLS, Calif.—On Jan. 31, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation “Shiragian” Chapter’s Public Relations Committee held its third Town Hall Meeting at Granada Hills’ North Valley Armenian Center. The subject of conversation was “Emigration from Armenia: ARF’s Alternative Plan against Emigration and the Diaspora’s Role.”
Vilma Kouyoumjian welcomed the crowd on behalf of the organizing committee and led a moment of silence in honor of the recent deaths of Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers Armen Hovhannisyan and Karen Galstyan.
The first speaker was Seto Boyadjian, a practicing attorney and former Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America in Washington, D.C. Boyadjian cautioned that if the phenomenon of emigration continues, by the year 2030, the small population in Armenia will make it difficult to maintain a nation and preserve the Homeland. “We have to picture the land and the people collectively,” he said, “because the people are identified by the land and the land is identified by its people. One cannot exist without the other.”
Boyadjian went on to say that in order for a country to be admissible, it must have land, population, government, and independence. “When you lose the population, you lose the government, you lose the independence,” he said. “The existence of present-day Armenia is in danger.”
He then explained the push and pull factors of migration and said that push factors have been the primary reason for emigration in Armenia. “If we don’t realize this and take steps to prevent it, our independent nation is at stake,” he said. Boyadjian also outlined the ARF’s “We will live in our country” anti-emigration plan.
The second speaker was Armen Zadikian, a Soviet Armenian dissident and a political activist.
Zadikian spoke about the current Armenian government and its inability to prevent emigration. “I’m not naïve enough to think that the entirety of the Diaspora will immigrate back to Armenia in caravans,” he said. “That’s neither possible nor right.” Instead, he said, a group of a few thousand Armenian youth ages 30-50 must immigrate to Armenia and become active. “This is our last chance,” he said.
Zadikian also talked about the problems associated with living in the Diaspora. “The majority migrate to Russia and there, half a generation later, the children slip out of their fingers,” he said. “Here, we are able to raise Armenian children from generation to generation because we have the means to do it.”
After the conclusion of the speakers, the floor was opened for those in attendance to ask the speakers questions and share their thoughts on the topic.