YEREVAN (Asbarez)—The Catholicos of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Friday, February 22 to discuss what Pashinyan described as “a very important mission of establishing a national agenda.”
Pashinyan explained that during his tenure as prime minister he has had several meetings with His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, saying that the two have “managed to create a sincere and open atmosphere” to address matters of church and state—specifically touching on an agenda for the nation.
“This particular dialogue is of key importance for the future of our country—for the future of our people—because I think that we have a very important mission to discuss our agenda for the nation and establish a national agenda,” Pashinyan told the two pontiffs.
“We know one thing for sure–we, our people, our church and our religious leaders have a shared appreciation that we will not be defeated and have to overcome all the challenges facing our state, people, the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh and the Diaspora. I am confident that such interactions, our relations with the Church and discussions are of decisive and key importance,” added Pashinyan.
Karekin II briefed Pashinyan on the discussions he had with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, who arrived in Armenia February 19 and has been at Holy Etchmiadzin, where the two have held extensive discussions about various problems facing the Armenian Church and attempts to find reasonable solutions for them. According to Karekin II, Pashinyan has established a working group to address and examine issues concerning the church and state with the aim of finding appropriate solutions to them.
“We also referred to the mission of our Church in our national and spiritual life, highlighting our role for the spiritual and national consolidation of our people, as well as for the progress of our country,” Karekin II said of his meeting with Aram I.
“We emphasized the importance of stability in our country and that the atmosphere of love prevails, as well as how the Armenian Church has always stood with the state whenever we had our independent statehood, and made a contribution to the safe and secure existence of our country. We have had numerous opportunities to emphasize that the Armenian Apostolic Church will continue the same work with the same vigor and enthusiasm, so as to enable our people to overcome difficulties with collective efforts, all the problems facing our country and the worldwide Armenian people. Naturally, this goes for the issue of the recognition of Artsakh’s independence, recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the stable, safe progress of our country,” explained Karekin II.
“Your success is the success of our homeland and the success of the homeland is the success of our entire nation, because the Republic of Armenia has some responsibilities beyond its borders toward the Diaspora,” said Aram I, adding his hopes that people’s expectations would be met during Pashinyan’s tenure.
“You set out on this path with that commitment and emphasized in all your public speeches that you come from the people; that the people represent the power and it’s the expectations of the people that must inspire you and the government… Of course, it is necessary to be realistic and not emotional. My final expectation is that the aspirations and needs of the people are met, and I anticipate that in this process you will be emphasize the benefit and need for diversity,” he continued. Aram I’s statements also emphasized the belief that having differing opinions is enriching and inspiring, as long those opinions intersect “around our national values and ideals.”
“It’s necessary to avoid polarizations. If there is polarization, then [the sides] must be bridged over the same values. And for this, I’d like to highlight the role of the Church… The Catholicos of All Armenians also said that the relationship between Church and State, or as I would say, the partnership, is a must for nation building. Naturally, there are different opinions and approaches. As I already said, these differences should become useful, because we are all in the same ring and on the same path,” added Aram I.