President Robert Kocharian's Speech
at the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, 1999
[This is President Robert Kocharian's keynote speech at the
Armenia-Diaspora conference. It was delivered on 09/22/1999, and
subsequently published in Hayastani Hanrapetutiun, 09/23/1999,
pp.1-2. Below is a translation with some minor omissions.
Please Note: This is not an official translation, nor is it done
by a professional translator. I have tried to keep the wording as
close as possible to the original, although this particular speech
cannot be considered a direct word-by-word rendition of the Armenian
text. The text in quotation marks is a direct translation. I have
translated this for my own use, and share it with the Groong
readership -- Razmik Panossian]
President Robert Kocharian's Speech at
The Armenia-Diaspora Conference (09/22/1999)
In the history of our people, today we are opening a new page. We need
new categories and a new quality in our national self-organisation. In
the international context of economic globalisation, new information
technologies, unity of pan-human characteristics, etc., the diaspora
is no doubt an asset with its economic power, political links, and
accumulated experience. Therefore, it is of essential importance to
maintain (pahpanel -- save and defend) the diaspora. It is very
important to find the correct mechanism of cooperation. "Armenia
has much to give to the diaspora, and the diaspora has much to give
to the fatherland."
The national arch-problems (azgayin gerkhndirner) facing Armenia,
Artsakh and the diaspora can be solved with highest national unity.
"It is obvious that the idea of national unity has been the constant
tread/guide (ughekits) in Armenian reality." Based on past experiences,
we should clarify national priorities through dialogue, and we must
find organisational ways through which it will be possible to move
the dialogue to the plane of solving essential problems. We have no
other choice. This is not about creating a new organisational
system to replace the structures already operating in the diaspora
or in the fatherland. But it is about the acceptance of a completely
new quality in (level of) cooperation, within the parameters of which
each organisation will, I believe, have the opportunity to participate.
It is not enough to clarify the priorities of national-political,
economic, scientific-educational, health, cultural, media and other
issues, but to emphasise the plans of how to realise them [end of
page 1 in newspaper text].
For the diaspora, the greatest issue still remains the imperative
to maintain identity, and to reproduce itself with minimal loss of
national qualities. No matter where Armenians live, the general and
collective characteristic remains historical destiny, historical
memory, and the natural responsibility towards national preservation.
The problem of remaining Armenian in the diaspora is not just an
abstract and emotional issue; it is an essential issue. First, for
the continuation and future of Armenian statehood. Hence, the
state's role towards the diaspora is based on the following
1) Create the necessary conditions and possibilities in order to
maintain Armenianness in the diaspora.
2) Defend the interests and human rights of diasporan Armenians at
the level of international norms.
3) Create for diasporans favourable conditions to take part in the
strengthening of national statehood, and in the solution to
4) Assure possibilities so that diasporans can participate more
actively in the creation of national values, giving a permanent
and coordinated nature to their activities in spiritual, cultural,
scientific and other realms.
5) Create for diaspora Armenians conditions that will give them the
legal-civil rights to live in Armenia. This will realise the
motto "Armenia is the fatherland of all Armenians." This, no
doubt, assumes the acceptance of dual citizenship. [This point
was emphasised in the speech, adding that the constitutional
barrier to dual citizenship must be lifted. That phrase was not
in the printed text.]
6) Create in Armenia structures that will take into account the
need for multilevel relations with the diaspora.
7) In the international relations between Armenia and other states,
take into account the local diaspora as a factor.
8) Initiate and assist in the creation of pan-national public
structures in various domains.
"All the national structures of the diaspora, no matter where they
are, have had one arch-problem: to struggle against the loss of
national identity, national values, qualities, and the step by step
weakening of historical memory." A diaspora separated from national
statehood is condemned to be an extinguished historical memory. Every
new generation inevitably is one step further from national identity.
"It is our belief that the diaspora can become an active,
self-perpetuating and permanent national factor, both in individual
countries and as a general condition, if it has coordinated and
harmonious relations with the reality of national statehood and the
fatherland." From this perspective, the diaspora has two missions:
a) the constant problem of maintaining national identity, through
its own efforts and with the assistance of independent Armenia; b)
the immediate participation in the strengthening of national
Today, the two fundamental issues facing the nation are Artsakh,
and the economic improvement of Armenia. Diaspora Armenians'
assistance in the work of strengthening national statehood are:
1) Consultation through clear mechanism of advising.
2) Informative and specialised assistance in science, education,
health care, and in other realms.
3) Organisational and political assistance to the homeland's
diplomacy. The diaspora is the result of the genocide. It has
begun the struggle to get the genocide recognised by the
international community. The diaspora must continue this work,
in cooperation with the fatherland state.
4) Humanitarian aid to overcome the effects of the earthquake and
the social conditions.
5) Increase of economic investment in Armenia and Artsakh.
6) Assistance in the strengthening of the homeland through paying
7) Permanent participation in the work of solving national problems
and defining goals.
8) The organisation of gathering information, and learning about
each of the diasporan communities.
This is the beginning of the process, and the organisational work
will take years. In the meantime, we have a series of programmes
which will not be too difficult to realise. These are:
1) The creation of a united information field through satellite
communications which will lead to pan-national TV channel.
2) The creation of a development agency which will actively
incorporate diaspora Armenians in the Armenian economy.
3) The further use of the "Armenia" pan-Armenian fund, which is the
first success of a pan-Armenian structure.
4) The regular organisation of pan-Armenian sports games and
5) The creation in Armenia of a permanent youth centre.
6) The creation of many specialised business organisations such as
the Armenian Jewellers Association, and doctors' associations.
The Armenia-diaspora meeting is not going to solve all of our
problems, obviously. But a seriously organised nation is a
significant economic and political factor. Each generation of
Armenians has its own mission. With this belief, the fatherland has
initiated this meeting.
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