What can the Diaspora do now?

Graphic by Proper Company, exclusive to the Armenian Weekly

Undoubtedly, Armenians all over the world are devastated by the 44-day war that resulted in the defeat of Artsakh and Armenia against the overwhelmingly large combined army of Azeris, Turks and jihadists equipped with much more superior armaments and drones. The shock was even further exacerbated by the encouraging but misleading communications from the Armenian army that all was well and we were going to win, until the last day of the war. Diaspora Armenians enthusiastically contributed to the war effort by donating more money in one month than funds collected during the past 20 years. Many Diasporans also contributed materials, medications and clothing.

Now that the war is lost, there is complete disappointment, loss of faith and trust among Diaspora Armenians, combined with angry blames and accusations against both the present and past government leaders. Once the flurry of fury and protests subside, cooler heads will prevail, and we will again able to discuss the lessons to be learned from the mismanagement of past and present governments, I suggest the following steps be considered to improve the chances of survival for Armenia:

– Armenians in the Diaspora do have the financial, technological, scientific and economic resources and know-how to help the recovery of Armenia, as well as at least double the population of Armenia. They can and must be involved in the growth of Armenia by contributing their resources in a coordinated and organized way, not on a voluntary basis, and not regarded as a milking cash cow as it has been until today. 

– This can only be achieved by representation of Diaspora Armenians in the government of Armenia. The Diaspora Armenians who do contribute to the improvement of Armenia financially, technologically, scientifically or economically must be allowed to vote and be voted for in the government of Armenia.  

– In order to provide a reliable and steady funding mechanism, Diaspora Armenians should contribute a fixed amount monthly, say five percent of their income, as a tax or bond to the government of Armenia. In order to provide accountability for the proper investment and spending of these funds, Diaspora Armenians should vote for Diaspora Armenian candidates to be elected in the parliament, based on quotas for five different Diaspora regions: Europe, North America, South America, Middle East and Russia. The Ministry of Diaspora must be re-established with increased powers with representation from the elected Diasporans, regardless of which party is in power. I believe this is the only way to re-establish a meaningful relationship between Armenia and the Diaspora now. 

– In order to provide additional ties for Armenian Diaspora youth of high school age, a kibbutz-like program must be established for at least two summers of compulsory visits to Armenia by Diaspora youngsters, financed by the government. 

– In order to provide technological and cultural interaction for Armenian Diaspora university students, a university exchange program must be established for at least two semesters between international universities and Armenian ones for all Diaspora Armenian university students.

– In order to capitalize on the technological and scientific expertise of Diaspora Armenians, sabbatical exchanges must be arranged through the companies where they work, financed by the government of Armenia.

All of these suggestions should and could have been considered before the war was lost. It is even more imperative to implement them now. After all, Armenians have only Armenians to help themselves. 

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Raffi Bedrosyan

Raffi Bedrosyan is a civil engineer, writer and a concert pianist, living in Toronto. Proceeds from his concerts and CDs have been donated to the construction of school, highways, and water and gas distribution projects in Armenia and Karabakh—projects in which he has also participated as a voluntary engineer. Bedrosyan was involved in organizing the Surp Giragos Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd Church reconstruction project. His many articles in English, Armenian and Turkish media deal with Turkish-Armenian issues, Islamized hidden Armenians and the history of thousands of Armenian churches left behind in Turkey after 1915. He gave the first Armenian piano concert in the Surp Giragos Church since 1915, most recently at the 2015 Genocide Centenary Commemoration. He is the founder of Project Rebirth, which helps Islamized Armenians return to their original Armenian roots, language and culture. He has appeared as a keynote speaker at numerous international conferences related to human rights, genocide studies and Armenian issues.
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4 Comments

  1. Agreed and who will coordinate all this? Armenia at the moment or even in the past has not seen favorably the input of diaspora. Further more, we must consider the difference of the mentality. As an Armenian form the diaspora, every cent from our community is counted for and when it doesnt add up, we demand resignation or accountability. On the other hand in Armenia, it is all based on ‘gashark’ I am being told. Again, I love your proposal similar to Mr Edward Sassoun’s suggestion (letter tio Armenians). I will put time and capital to work on projects that can increase Armenias economy, turn it to an independent country but will not donate as we use to. That is for sure…Sadly.

  2. What is the reason for the donation to betrayed Armenia,when another Armenia can be made in another place (anywhere on earth)

    • i have been thinking we need to buy land and move all our culture (including all our churches) there and create new Armenia. maybe Canada or Norway will sell us a portion of their cold lands? maybe California can sell us a piece of it and we can be like Puerto Rico?

  3. Dear Rita, i myself, being from Armenia, never donated. donating to general funds is simply not a good option. we need specific funds with specific aims. for example, at the moment one of the best place to give money is the American University of Armenia. we need more institutions like this.

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