ANTELIAS (Combined Sources)–Delegates from five continents congregated in Antelias–Lebanon on November 18 to participate in a three-day conference of Armenian Revolutionary Federation-affiliated organizations. Organized by the ARF Bureau–the conference featured representatives of the Hamazkayin cultural organization–Homenetmen athletic and scouting organization–and the Armenian Relief Society.
Hagop Der Khatchadourian of the ARF Bureau–Maro Minassian of the ARS Central Executive–Karnig Megerdichian of the Homenetmen Central Executive–and Megerdich Megerdichian of the Hamazkayin Central Executive opened the session with individual remarks–which were followed by a speech delivered by ARF Bureau representative Hrant Markarian–who stated–"to tap into our country’s full potential–we must work as a united entity."
The unprecedented conference officially opened on November 19 at the Homenetmen Aghpalian complex in Antelias. The first session–chaired by ARF Bureau member Hagop Der Khatchadourian–introduced the mission of the ARS–Hamazkayin–and Homenetmen–and their activities in various regions.
ARS Central Executive chair Maro Minassian presented the noble history of the organization–established in 1910 to assist the Armenian people. She gave a snapshot of activities–revealing the profile of its members–which range from the age of 18 to the 90. She detailed ARS’s activities that include assistance to educational establishmen’s–active social service centers–a kindergarten program in Mountainous Karabagh–as well as its activities within the UN. She underlined the necessity of successful implementation of programs–and the need to provide social services to Armenia’s of Javakhk.
Minassian revealed that current priorities include assistance to Armenia’s in Iraq–a publication detailing the history of the ARS as it approached its 100th anniversary–and cultivating government-level ties in countries where it operates.
On behalf of its Central Executive–Karnig Megerdichian detailed Homenetmen’s mission and scope of activities–stressing the importance to establish chapters where there the need exists–specifically in Artsakh and Javakhk. Present difficulties–revealed Megerdichian–include a lack in funding–uniformity of athletic activities–and the youth’s participation in decision making bodies.
Central Executive member Keghani Etyemezian–spoke of Hamazkayin’s efforts to rework its mission and the organization’s new approach to operating by its already reformed by laws.
She outlined the three-year activity of the past executive–detailing the progress of its printing and publishing houses–literary periodical Pakine–schools and centers of learning–and the organization’s dynamic Summer Forum that began in 1995–and has since provided an exciting environment for young students to learn a great deal about Armenian culture and heritage.
The second session convened with chairman Haroutioun Kurkjian–introducing lecturer Levon Mkrtchian–ARF faction leader in Armenia’s National Assembly and ARF Armenia Supreme Body member. Speaking of more effective Armenia-diaspora relations–Mkrtchian stressed that efforts must be organized for more valuable and productive results. This–he said–requires appreciation for input both from Armenia and the diaspora. He explained that not only must the general Armenia-diaspora relationship be strengthened–but that specific communities must also establish vital links with Armenia and its government.
Chaired by Megerdich Megerdichian–the second and final session on Saturday included Khatchig Der Ghougassian–who addressed the general and theoretical concept of "nation," and asked–"how is it possible to be Armenian in an international setting?"
Focusing on the re-establishment of the concept of "diaspora," Der Ghougassian explained that redefining the diaspora of the global 21st century–requires a mission from the past–along with a generation whose existence born outside of Armenia–grasps the concept of pan humanitarianism; this understanding therefore not only helps to preserve–but also develop our existence and individuality.
Other sessions included Seta Khedeshian speaking about utilization of modern means to revamp organizational structure and to face current challenges. She specifically stressed the need to develop relations with international–as well as non-government organizations.
The topic of assistance programs to Armenia–Artsakh–and Javakhk was presented by Pakrad Sarkisian.
Albert Ajemian spoke about youth centers in Armenia–and the urgency for the ARF to create the ideal means to attract and guide youth–not only as a means to gain manpower–but more importantly–to become the ideological and political force of the future.
Noura Navoyan described the history and present situation of Armenian communities in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). She spoke of population–schools–churches–and quality of Armenian life–revealing that in the CIS countries alone–there are as many as 2.8 million Armenia’s.
Dikran Jinbashian spoke of the birth of ARF–and the three organizations–ARS–Hamazkayin–and Homenetmen–that eventually became a part of each community to assist generations of Armenia’s in shaping their identities and national belonging.
The last and final topic presented by Hagop Havatian–addressed public relations and the accountability of organizations.
At the conclusion of the conference–participants passed a declaration presented by the resolutions committee.
ARF Bureau representative Markarian closed the conference saying that it served to conduct a general review and clarification of issues–and can be considered the cornerstone to tackling issues.