Our Useless Diaspora, Our Future Armenia

Inside Shushi’s shelled Ghazanchetsots Cathedral (Photo: Apo Sahagian)

During the Artsakh War of 2020, my group of Diasporan friends and I rushed to the homeland to volunteer. On October 18, 2020, we visited Shushi and lit a candle in the shelled Ghazanchetsots cathedral. I’m sure we all prayed for the same thing: that we’d win this round as well. A week later, in the evening time, when we were at our post, my friend’s father called him from Jerusalem worried about a video of Artsakh’s president Arayik Harutyunan in which he claimed Azeri forces were quickly closing in on the Fortress City—the strategic and symbolic cornerstone of the narrative that the third republic of Armenia was founded upon.

I finally understood there and then what I had been suspicious of for years: that the Diaspora is in all honesty useless. The concerned voice of my friend’s father was all the proof one needed to expose the Diaspora as a helpless mass. Because while a large number of protestors flocked the streets of Los Angeles, Paris and Jerusalem, the Turks took Hadrut. Because while Diasporans passionately lobbied and petitioned around the world, the Turks made it to the gates of Shushi. And while every Diasporan dedicated their social media pages to the war effort, Shushi slipped away. The candle I lit a mere week before it was snuffed out exemplified nothing but the unanswered prayers of a depressed nation.

In 44 days, Armenia went from being one of the safest countries in the world to a failed state—broken, fragmented and defenseless. Neo-Ottoman forces had finally crashed through our doors and set a foothold in our home. Russian peacekeepers for their own interests barged in to preserve something of their once-upon-a-time Caucasian ally, and the most incompetent, inexperienced and treacherous Armenian government stubbornly clutched to its seat while trying to juggle the myriad of new challenges the country had to deal with. The Diaspora could not stop any of this, no matter the protests, the donations, the petitions, or the poetic Facebook posts. 

Yet, when we ultimately capitulated, I turned to my fellow volunteers and said that I preferred losing with my feet planted on Armenian soil rather than being disoriented in the Diaspora. Because what the Diaspora has failed to understand over a century is the following: the one who lives on the land keeps the land. Sure, our tumultuous bloody history might suggest otherwise, but the basic tenet of that idea still stands. Artsakh, the size of many recognized countries with millions of inhabitants, had a population of 160,000 on the best of days. That is abysmal and a testimony to our failure as a socio-political collective. 

I assured my volunteers that despite all the blame game unfolding post-war, we, there, standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Artsakh and southern Armenia, were neither responsible nor guilty. The culprits were the Diasporans who found it more comfortable fighting the war from a distance on the internet. The culprits were the Yerevantsis whose geography of Armenia is limited to Yerevan and a long weekend in Dilijan during summertime. The culprits were those young men of Artsakh who deserted the front and hid away in Armenia. The culprits were the government officials who ran the war in criminal mismanagement, disorganization and idiocy. 

If me and my guys were guilty of one thing, it is what everyone else was guilty of. That is, we took Artsakh for granted while enjoying it as a tourist hotspot for its divine beauty. It turned into the background of our social media pictures, but it never made it to the tangible forefront of our daily lives. 

For 30 years, Artsakh was in a bureaucratic limbo yet still secure. Today the remaining parts of Artsakh linger in purgatory while Armenia is lost and confused in a dark tunnel that refuses to show a light at the end of it. 

So where do we go now?

First, we have to accept that we are the generation that lost Shushi. When my father was 30, Shushi was liberated in the famous operation of the Wedding in the Mountains. I turned 30 a few days after the end of this war, having lost Shushi and watching Armenia coming apart at the seams. Therefore, we can only look at ourselves in the mirror and admit that we are losers— basically, a new set of losers in the unrelenting loop of the past 800 years. In this loop, the victory of the first Artsakh War is only a random miracle—an outlier that does not fit the norm. 

Second, we have to decide whether we want to be like our grandparents who, after the Genocide, withdrew into their corner, resigned themselves to the tragedy and told themselves they would focus on preserving what they had; or, we make the decision not to become our grandparents, not to let Shushi slowly turn into a modern Kars and work on breaking the loop. We do that not by preserving what we have, but by strengthening what we have. It’s a simple turn of the wheel that will make a difference. 

As Diasporans, we need to change the way we utilize our resources. We do not need to sustain the Diaspora; we need to end it. Armenia’s weakest point, the chink of chinks in her armor, is the miserable demographics. Just like there wasn’t a sizable population in Artsakh, there also isn’t one in the Armenian countryside. If you’re a young Diasporan family raising children in the Armenian culture, but planning a life for them that mostly transpires in the Diaspora, then you are perpetuating the loop. If you believe that your childrens’ enrollment in an Armenian school is enough and you fail to prepare them for a life in Armenia, then you are perpetuating the loop. If you are gaining the wealth and knowledge of the outside world and not actively using it for the benefit of Armenia, then you are perpetuating the loop. I can go on and on about how the Diaspora can so easily and subconsciously perpetuate the loop while thinking it is doing otherwise. 

Saying “never again” but repeating the same half-hearted patriotism is something the future of Armenia cannot afford any longer. To be poetically cruel, it is time we snatch your children away and send them to Armenia; deprive the sloths from their comfort and send them to Syunik; gather all the good-for-nothing drunkards and underachievers wandering on our Diaspora streets and relocate them to the Lachin corridor with the promise that they’ll get a daily batch of vodka as long as they drink away on Armenian soil. Yes, it’s time to use the resources of the Diaspora with clear-cut strategies and even manipulation that result in concrete tangible results on the ground in Armenia. 

Finally, we must accept the new trauma haunting us. If my forefather lived the last Armenian days of Sepastia and Western Armenia, then me and my volunteers lived the last Armenian days of Shushi and Karvajar. I did not experience these losses through a history book or an Instagram story; I was there. And I can never unsee the last time I drove away from Shushi with Ghazanchetsots in the rearview mirror. In the West, it is a trend to reconcile with trauma in the hopes of letting it go. But, on the contrary, we need the trauma. I have been refusing my friend’s endless invitations for an ayahuasca session. Because, deep in me, at this moment, there is both a little boy crying rivers wider than Arax and a raging monster thirsting for revenge. And they both have a role in rebuilding our homeland.

There’s much to do and not much time. The Caucasus is a geopolitical region built on quicksand, constantly changing and offering new challenges and opportunities. For military strategists and students of political science, a quick scan of the map and a digest of the news can provide countless scenarios that could and will occur in the region. It’s time we built a country that is strong and cunning enough to adjust and adapt to the pendulum. That also requires the more politically savvy amongst us to look at things not from an immediate angle, but from an evolutionary point of view on a scale of 50 years, or a hundred, or even more. Once you adopt that aerial view, you realize the 800-year confrontation with the several Turkish onslaughts makes up barely 16 percent of the 5,000-year-old Armenian history. To put it simply, that is 800 pages in a 5,000-page book. It’s clearly not the longest chapter. But because we are living in the here and now, every word of every sentence in these 800 pages is amplified and occasionally makes us lose sight of the grander horizon. 

In this loop, we usually end up on the losing side. At the same time, nothing is infinite. Just as the Armenian hold over Shushi was not infinite, the Turkish hold over Kars cannot be considered infinite. Who’s to say the Armenian hold over Yerevan is? But one must be truthful to the cosmic loss Artsakh experienced this time around. For the first time since the dawn of Armenian time, Shushi, Hadrut and other towns in Artsakh do not have Armenians, Armenian life or an Armenian hearth. That is a reality that should freeze you for a moment and pull you into the depths of an incurable despair. Yet sooner or later the pendulum will swing again, and we will have a chance to break the cycle, to untie the knot at a specific point and either begin a fresh loop of new outcomes or, in the best case scenario, no longer be tied to a loop but rather forge a linear course.

This can only happen if we prioritize the strengthening of what we have at all costs with any means necessary. When Gyumri comes before Los Angeles. When Goris comes before Paris. When Stepanakert comes before Jerusalem. When the modest income of Armenia is seen as more fulfilling than the millions of dollars one can strive for in the West. When knowing the ins and outs of a random rural town in the Armenian countryside becomes more a source of pride than knowing the streets of London. 

Nobody is asking you to shed your individuality or personal ambitions. I, for one, am not. But at the end of each day, ask yourself what you did that day to strengthen Armenia. Because, after all is said and done, we still have an Armenia. It lays naked, exposed and lacking a new narrative to take it forward. The riches of Glendale or the intimacy of Bourj Hammoud do not even cut the threshold; they are not ours and never will be. Mother Armenia, with the spleen of Artsakh, is all we have. And only we, the generation that lost Shushi, can make sure that we prepare the launching pad for the future generations that will carry the homeland forward.

The responsibility resting on the shoulders of our generation is heavy, and our task is multifaceted. We are the motley of losers that must begin paving the paths to victories which we will never see, never celebrate and never smell. You’re going to be lowered in your grave content with what you did and with the faith that someone else picks up where you left off. That is our chapter in the continuous Armenian history book. Accept it. It’s better than not having a book at all. 

Apo Sahagian

Apo Sahagian

Apo Sahagian is a Jerusalemite-Armenian musician and writer.
Apo Sahagian

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  1. No sir. You don’t speak for me. I’m that other diasporan you clearly don’t know of. The type that you pray for. The kind you could only imagine existed in your dreams but scared out of your mind if you ever saw in reality.

    So don’t go generalizing and coming to conclusions about the Armenian diaspora. Let’s be clear: useless is the candle you lit.

    It seems like it’s going to be up to diaspora to clean up this colossal mess. Think about it, what was Monte?

    Yeah, sleep on it in Jerusalem.

    • Apo, thank you for opening the Pandora’s Box to the conversation Diasporans do not want to have. The diaspora is useless as long as there is a diaspora.

    • This is exactly the problem. Diasporans think they have ground to stand on. Yes. It is up to us to clean this up. We’ve been living in comfort for 80 years, leaving our brothers in the east to fight for our idea of a Fatherland. I’m having trouble picking apart what exactly the point of your comment was but I’ve come to “Don’t generalize about the diaspora, it’s not up to the diaspora, I wanna sound badass, something something Monte Melkonian.”

  2. The author is clean as a whistle and as honest as the (Armenian) day is long. In my days during the 60’s the slogan was “do not trust anyone over thirty”. Let us face it, the over thirty generation messed up Armenia real bad, and now the burden sorrowfully lays on the App Sahagian like minded post September 21, 1991 generation living in Armenia and no where else.

    • Yes but if you speak to over 60’s here in Armenia they would claim that they were ‘victorious’ generation liberating Artsakh etc, but at the same time they were also the rulling generation who robbed the Army and the nation of their scarce resources for over 30 years and created an environment that people from diaspora were only allowed to visit the country once or twice a year for their annual injection of ‘tooti aragh and xorovatc’ and may be some emotional tears listening to duduk, or best case scenario retire here when their productive life is over.
      As for the current ruling generation ministers they are young and inexperienced and protective of their position and refuse to use the enormous source in diaspora to fulfil the nations needs i.e. political, technical etc.
      I believe the only way to build Armenia for the future is to have a government which reflects the opinion of All Armenians in the world, yes by encouraging everyone one to take ownership of their identity and have Armenian passport and have the voting right to elect from worldwide candidates, This will create a an environment that would encourage a good proportion of diaspora to move permanently, at the current situation Diaspora can’t do anything but Demos, lobbying etc.
      By the way I am from diaspora and over 60, currently live in Armenia

  3. It is time to stop thinking of “the diaspora” as the post genocide dispersion. It has to include the “new diaspora” of the dispersion from the Republic of Armenia…and the gap between Eastern and Western Armenians (and the old Tashnag/Ramghavar divide) has to be dissolved. The tragedy in Artsakh grew out of the old mentalities and social and political divisions.

    • The divide is all but gone. In New Jersey, Tashnag kids go to Shushi barakhump, Ramgavar kids go to Camp Hayastan, the only thing left to do is come back to the homeland.

  4. My question is : Why was there no committee formed to prove that artsakh was legally ours and that artsakh seceded from Russia and Azerbaijan.
    We had 30 years to do so and NOTHING.

    • Because even if there was, nobody would care. Azerbaijan would not roll over and give away land for nothing.

    • Artsakh was an autonomous oblast, which essentially gave it to right to be an independent country,but located in the Soviet socialist Republic of Azerbaijan,was not recognized when the Soviet Union fell,1st post Soviet Union war in Remember?

  5. Apo, thank you for this poignant article. Bravo! You have nailed all our issues head on. Sadly, people in Armenia have very high regard for the Diaspora, but as you have correctly pointed out, we are practically useless. With the exception of a few individuals who have established the likes of the AUA, TUMO, Birthright Armenia, wineries and some others, the collective support the Diaspora has given the motherland has been pathetic. The best evidence is the funds raised during the latest war when our nation was fighting its most serious existential threat in a century. Yes, $170 million may seem a lot, but in reality it was not. Considering about $60- $70 million came from Armenia itself, the remaining $100 million for a Diaspora worth billions is a shame. As you mention, our salvation is to change our mindset about patriotism, changing it from ազգասիրություն (love of the race) to հայրենասիրություն (love of the country.) We have confused those two for far too long, with devastating consequences, thinking they are the same. Spending $30-$40 million to build a museum in Glendale when it could have been better invested to strengthen the motherland is appalling, showing the Diaspora’s misguided priorities. Planting a seed on our land will yield a hundred folds more than planting it on some foreign soil. I have met numerous Diasporans who consider themselves patriotic Armenians, but have never visited Armenia (or at the most just once.) We have been inundated by “Facebook Fedayees” who have never visited Shushi or contributed to its development while it was under our control, now screaming the loudest as its staunchest defenders. Times have changed and speaking the language, sending our children to Armenian school and closing our shops on April 24 doesn’t cut it anymore. We need to act, that is the real measure of a patriot, our willingness to sacrifice for the motherland, to repatriate or at the least get engaged. We have been given a golden opportunity to prove our worth of having an independent country, and that depends on ALL of us, not only the people living there. This is a challenge we can’t afford to lose and I am delighted to see people of Apo’s generation rising to the challenge.

  6. I would disagree that Armenia is a failed state. ( Please be very careful about using this term ).

    Otherwise totally agree. Having been both diasporan and a repatriate, I have long concluded that much of The diaspora has never intrinsically connected with the notion of Armenia being a nation state. For most, Armenia is an imagined homeland. Instead of paying tax, or taking a passport , we prefer to pay for apple vodka and take a photo on our yearly trip. (If we make that trip at all). I think that the old diasporan structures perpetuate this by making being Armenian as much about being a part of the “diaspora” as it is about being Armenian itself. The structures monopolise Armenian identity and restrict it to Sunday schools and charity drives. In actual fact , there is only one Armenian identity. That is the person who is completely and intrinsically linked to the nation state of Armenia. Like it or not, we have a state. It’s not including Kars , or many of the places the diaspora dream of…but frankly , I’d rather have a tiny state of Armenia that is rich and prosperous than have a screaming diaspora dotted around the world crying over us losing what was and is ultimately a poverty stricken land. There is only one solution , come here and make a life. If you can’t right now, then plan it in 10 years..pay tax and take a passport. We will not protect Syunik by dancing outside embassies. Come and build.

  7. Good Afternoon guys. we all are going thru tough and tragic times. We all care about future of our motherland but accusing each other or pointing fingers won’t help. We must be united. Most of you talk about diaspora not being a big help but for past 30 years millions of dollars were sent to Armenia and be used on proper staff. Where did it go??!!! Then during this war over 500 million dollars were send, what happen to that money??!! While Artsakh is fighting for life government of Armenia is fixing streets of Yerevan. People in Parliament are getting bonus, tell me for what??!! Ruining our country? People from diaspora came to Armenia to fight but recruiters in voenkomat kept telling them we will let you know when, go home now. So much supplies were collected and sent to help people of Artsakh. Where is it?? Got stolen and sold by corrupted government. Instead of being selfish and unthankful we must start asking question “What did we do wrong??Why Armenia itself did not recognize Artsakh first?” Did we appreciate our fidayee who fought in 1992-1994? Did we listen their advise in this war? Answer is no we did not. Our present government ignored everything and it is their fault that we are in this position. Blame them first. Now it is time to get together as a one nation and take our land back. No other way around. Period.

  8. A very well written article. I support whole-heartedly the immigration of Diaspora Armenians to Armenia. However, I disagree with the thought that the Diaspora is useless. There are many reasons why many Diaspora Armenians cannot move to Armenia. Many of the reasons are personal. There is nothing to be gained by shaming millions of Armenians into moving to Armenia. It is not realistic to expect millions of Diaspora Armenians to move to Armenia. All that the writer accomplishes is alienating the majority of Diaspora Armenians. Rather than enticing them to move to Armenia, we are pushing them further away by offending them. Even if a miracle happened and seven million Diaspora Armenians moved to Armenia tonight, where would they go from the airport in Yerevan? Where would they sleep at night? What would they eat? Where would they work? The more sensible approach would be for the Armenian government along with the assistance of the Diaspora to offer incentives for the Diaspora Armenians and prepare the infrastructure necessary for their settlement in Armenia. This is not easy to do. Nothing has been done in the past thirty years. As usual we talk big and do nothing. As Armenians say, “khoskov pilav chepvir.” Rather than just talking about it, prepare the infrastructure and then invite them to come. I suggest that the plan should be to entice first those Hayastantsis who left Armenia in recent years. Furthermore, I disagree that the Armenian Diaspora is useless. Just the opposite. The Diaspora has contributed and invested billions of dollars since independence and even more valuable has been the Diaspora’s political lobbying for Armenia. Just imagine where Israel would have been today if all the Jews had moved to Israel since 1948. What keeps Israel strong, in addition to Israelis in Israel, is the support that millions of Jews provide to Israel financially and politically. What can be honestly said is that the power and leverage of the Armenian Diaspora is not leveraged properly. What we should do is come up with mechanisms for the Diaspora to be better organized and more helpful to the homeland. Let’s not alienate, let’s entice. Let’s get united and let’s become more effective. Let’s not just talk, but act.

    • I understand this sentiment but I wonder if those things are actually necessary for resettlement if the people’s true goal is for the strengthening of the nation. The reality of the situation right now is that Armenia is facing an existential threat. Given the extreme importance of what happens next, it is abundantly clear that the need for unity and sacrifice is now. It is important to remark on what happened to Israel when they experienced genocide. They immediately realized that they could not guarantee their safety and right to exist while living dispersed in a stranger’s land. So the movement of creating a land for the Jews began. Whether or not you agree with Zionism morally, you have to admit that the Jews were able to create a society within a system that did not at first support them. They went from being a minority in a nation with no political power and no support to a nation with strong political and military backing in a single generation. Key to this progression is the notion of Aliyah, the idea that Jews from around the world were called on to immigrate and later to serve in the army as a moral/civic duty to their state. In the beginning, the diaspora of the first Jews did not have a government to fund or support them, they had stores and shops, and their first goal was the increase of their numbers on the land they claimed to be theirs. In contrast, Armenians are leaving their nation en masse. It is understandable for the poor to look for opportunities elsewhere, but in this current political climate, it seems to me that if the diaspora really wanted to help secure the strength of their nation they would go back and create opportunities. They would create their own shops, their own schools, their own political parties and inspire the change they want to see in creating the opportunities they want to see for the returning diaspora. The problem is that nobody wants to make the tradeoff between comfort and removed involvement to a life of sacrifice and struggle. You say that the Armenian people should be motivated rather than alienated. But what would motivate someone to give up their life and their livelihood for their nation if they value money and comfort? The people who want to help will have to understand and be willing to accept the truth of contributing at this time– life will be harder than the West, you may give all your efforts to this project and it may still have no effect, you will deal with problems you never imagined and your family will be uncomfortable. But isn’t Armenia worth it in the end?

    • I completely agree with you. I just replied and added your yearly report of Armenia Artsakh Foundation contributions to Armenia and Artsakh.
      Without a strong Armenian Diaspora there is no way Armenia can face alone all the challenges and dangers facing her.

    • Millions of Armenians coming back to Armenia is absolutely the only way our country will survive another 30 years. It’s difficult, but moving to a different country is a billion times easier than going to war and fighting.

  9. All so tiresome. A country/a population that votes a failed western-sponsored journo into power and is then unable to get rid of him (to this day), doesn’t get my support. Enjoy your delusions of grandeur while they last, I’d only wish you had an autocratic leader who chose for Armenia to be a de facto Russian provice instead of a vilayet but alas. Instead you democrats got someone from the gutter and here’s the result. I’m speechless over the incompetence and blaming diasporans here is laughable. You know you could have staid with gun in hand by that cathedral, right? Tough guy…

  10. We need to become Armenian “Zionists”, people willing to leave their comfortable lives behind and opt to live in their historical land.That’s how Zionism started …

  11. First… it’s starts internally. Volunteers are useless , especially with no proper training. Simple to take bullets? The people who deserted had a enough brains to realize that this was an inside screw job. Far from a conspiracy theorist, but every military vet on the ground who saw what was going on… realized that Armenia “proper” was trying to loose on purpose. Not even fighting. 16 year old kids with mothers fought… while the Armenian military did nothing. So … it starts at home, like almost everything. Anyone…. who can support Pashinyan…after all this… is either truly brainwashed…. or understands what’s the real agenda and is a Turk in nature. Forget about independence. That is only for world powers, such as The USA and Russia. Armenia has 3 choices for an ally…. not some half dead idea thousands of miles away. It’s either A. Russia, B. Turkey… or C. Iran. From day 1… when I saw those brainwashed fools support Pashinyan… I realized that we had not only lost Artsakh, but the only ally that actually did things and not just condemned aggression, being Russia. We back stabbed them… by supporting Pashinyan… a journalist with zero political experience, and no concrete beliefs. And yes, Kocharyans regime wasn’t the best… had plenty of faults… corrupt…. but if he was in power… every single Armenian soldier would of been at the front. Idk why they weren’t mobilized… but I have an idea. Now it is all being revealed. Btw… to note… the greatest heroes of the first war were Diaspora Armenians. With that…. Armenia needs to choose a path and stick to it. Wake up and realize that the only ally that gave a care… got spit on (Pashinyan being elected). So I don’t blame the Russians for half assing …. if not for them… all of Artsakh would be lost. Honestly, if I was Russia… after all the betrayal… I would of let the Turks wash Armenia away. Time to wake up…. choose a path…. stop blaming everyone and everything like a bunch of babies… and build something foundational…. for generations to come.

    • Back stabbed Russia? Please Russia is Armenia screw light. Its the very reason Artsakh is in Azeri hands in the first place. Same for Nakichivan. It gave away those historic Armenian lands and cant say whats just and correct? It abandoned Armenia totally its “supposed ally” while Turkey was conducted a drone war. It was beloved mother Russia under Gorbachev that allowed the pogroms in Baku and Sumgate. Its Russia that sells weapons to Azerbaijan. It can historically care less about Armenia in any way shape or form. Let be clear. the ONLY REASON Russia is involved today is because IT understands that ITS OWN underbelly cant be surrounded by Turks. Yes I get real politics. But its not Russia, this is our own fault. Total incompetence of the PM who grossly mismanaged the war and who still is doing so in the after war. And lied everyday about it. PASHINYAN NEEDS TO BE REMOVED. UNITY with superior leaders and goals and properly implementation is our only answer. ONE ARMENIA, ARTSAKH AND DIASPORA. There is no other ally..

  12. Bold words from someone who contributed equally little but a nice photoshoot. But let me guess, your music and poetry was meant to inspire the folks getting droned? Which by the way, this may be a good wake up call. You folks seemed to have thought everything is fine in Armenia until this loss which was largely technical, thanks to the military sleeping on developments in Syria. Well, you (not the diaspora) voted for that failed journo and still have him in power so… kerek, kerek.

  13. This is an extremely well written piece and it pierced at my heart. Harout sassounian I really like your response as well about the fact that the power of the diaspora is not leveraged well. I remember growing up in Saudi our parents used to constantly donate and always spoke about the thieves who were stealing the money. My husband and I were in Armenian in September during the war , it was the 2nd time we visit Armenia and we made a pact to bring our children in the future and to make Armenia an active part of our lives. We went to invest, to buy our first apartment. And even when the war started , I didn’t change my mind even though we were putting everything we had worked for, 10 year savings into it. As someone else commented Armenia needs to lag the infrastructure for diaspora Armenians to repatriate. Most of the developers we met with had zero interpersonal skills, zero passion, zero motivation to encourage diaspora Armenians to invest it was like we were begging them. We kept pushing and pushing until eventually I lost hope and the war started on top of it and we changed our mind. Also we have alllllllot of friends from Aleppo who moved to Armenia after the Syria war , with lots of money ready to invest, and they were turned away. It’s easier said than done especially if you are not a Hayastantsi. Both times I visited People there were not hospitable towards us at all, as thought we were Chinese or something. And us filled with hope, resilience, drive , longing for our motherland, we’re always left disappointed

  14. Diaspora moving to leave in Armenia is an indicator or a manifestation what Armenia is becoming a strong state. It is not a condition for Armenia to become one. What do we want more unhappy Armenians? Same I think about the language we speak in Diaspora. Speaking Armenian language is not a means for preserving Armenian identity, but rather an indicator of it. If I speak French, it does not make me French. If my kids speak Armenian, it is not because I force them to, but because they consider themselves Armenians. And we make them Armenians by telling them stories about our ancestors. How Paruyr with the help of Medians liberated Armenia from Assyrians, and crowned his son Eruand as the first Armenian king after 200 years of having non-Armenian leaders. . Or how Khosrou III planted a large forest. Or telling them about their grandparent or great grandparents, about how they survived the genocide (not how they perished, as we usually do) or may be stories of less significance. Ok, this a different subject.

    I do not think anybody is entitled to blame a Nation, any Nation. Let me bring some examples. In ancient Greece, when Persians were trying to conquer them, most of the Greek cities joined their forces with the Persians. In the battle of Platea, it was only the Spartans who defeated the 6-10 fold larger Persian army. Should we scold Greek people for not being like Athenians or Spartans? When Mongols came to the eastern Europe, the Rus people were divided into small principalities and could not withstand the “Golden Horde”. Should we blame Rus people for that?

    On the other hand, there is an example of Frederik the Great of Prussia, who made the Prussia the second great German power (the first being Austria). It was the Prussia, long after Frederik’s death that served as a center of gravitation that united the German people into one State (except Austria – Bismarck’s whim). Another Example is Artashes I of Armenia, who in the 2nd century BC united all Armenian under one state – Greater Hayq.

    Why I am saying this is people themselves cannot bring up a change. They need leaders. One might say leaders are born from the peoples desire for a change. How many time in History this was observed? IF Frederik’s father had executed him (as he was thinking to), will the German history be same? I do not think so. Or if German did not have Arminius, what would have been the boundaries of the Roman Empire? I am sure that Raine and Danube would not confine Roman generals in their search for Glory.

    It is the leaders who make a difference. Independence of USA from England was successful because Americans have their founding fathers. Great Hayq was established because we had a visionary leader: Artashes I (and of course the circumstances…).

    Some say that people deserve their leaders. I, physically refuse to believe that we deserve Nikol or any of his predecessors.

    My grief is not that Armenians are not returning to their Motherland, but 30 years after independence we do not have 2-3 people who will have the courage, the vision of our future, who will be the collective mind of our people. Who will set and implement policies that will make our Motherland a Nation who is respected, where people are happy, and with whom no other nation can mess with.

    Returning back to Motherland… On my mother side I am from Nachijevan. On my father side I am from Salmast. I was born in Yerevan. Where should I return to?

    • Stay where you are. People that suffer from delusions of grandeur, who don’t understand the peril they and by extension every Armenian is in given that the Turks never forgave us for surviving, who with open eyes vote for a failed journo who on top of being that is unoriginal in his Saakashwilian agenda (albeit far less educated and smart – again: failed. journo… yuck), who tolerate him executing on his agenda (think CSTO), who while being literaly half a day by car away from a war let their government lie to them and willingly accepy those lies… they deserve exactly the government they got. Now go to the streets with your camouflage-clad leader, why won’t you?

      I for one understand the Turkish narrative about 1900 far better now that I’ve seen how fickly, short-sighted, self-centered and naive our people are. But hey, as long as everyone can post their garbage on facebook (hint: you’re 10-15 years late) and feel good about themselves. Only wannabe chieftains. Ironic they would pick possibly the worst option among the two or so million remaining Armenians. I hope those folks feel good about themselves, well done boys and girls.

    • “In ancient Greece, when Persians were trying to conquer them, most of the Greek cities joined their forces with the Persians. In the battle of Platea, it was only the Spartans who defeated the 6-10 fold larger Persian army. Should we scold Greek people for not being like Athenians or Spartans? When Mongols came to the eastern Europe, the Rus people were divided into small principalities and could not withstand the “Golden Horde”. Should we blame Rus people for that?”

      – yes. yes you should blame them, just like you can blame the Diaspora for not doing enough.

  15. Armenia wouldn’t have an economy without the diaspora. We’ve given Armenia billions to rebuild roads, to increase infrastructure, to support Armenians through to prosperity.

    What’s useless are the Armenians that have let corruption become so deep that they’ve wasted everything the diaspora has given for decades.

    Instead of success and growth we see continued corruption and inept leadership. We see youth that buy and bribe their way through schools and college to get useless diplomas but no knowledge and skills. Armenia let the diaspora down and then has the gall to blame us.

  16. While I understand the author’s angst, how do we know that this capitulation was not planned? The only way any part of Artsakh could be relinquished is through a losing war — lest the end of Pashinyan’s reign. The only way Pashinyan stayed in power during the war was through the disinformation we witnessed.

    I don’t make this hypothesis lightly. It is one of several hypotheses. It will be interesting to see who will sign the first contracts with Turks and Azerbaijanis, and how soon Caspian gas enters Armenia. All of this diaspora or no diaspora.

    Yerevan, Armenia

  17. Excuse me? The Diaspora is deliberately neutralized by Armenia/Artsakh and then when the time comes to look for someone to blame, we are the prime target?

  18. People do not move from affluent countries to poor countries unless they fear for lives where they live. Since Armenia became independent, it has been misgoverned (corruption, killings of politicians, a selfish elite, corrupt catholicos, despicable oligarchs who behave like gangsters). The few diaspora Armenians who tried to open businesses were pushed out by corrupt businessmen and cliques who had the support of bureacrats and certain politician.
    The only significant immigration has been that of Syrians because they were fleeing for their lives.
    Unless Armenia becomes a true democracy and there are indications the government is serious about boosting the economy (i.e. eliminates the oligarchy and bureaucratic corruption) few diaspora Armenians will settle in Armenia.

  19. Stamp out the corruption and stop allowing the Russians to play with the Armenian politicians as toys, and you’ll find Armenians of diaspora flocking back to the motherland. Better yet, allow diaspora to have a voice in the way Armenia is governed.

  20. Your “where should i return to?” question confirmed to me that the rest of your rant was an excuse. Children should be taught to master the language. Your methods of motivation can be whatever you choose, but if they aren’t learning all the Armenian language, history, literature they can, then you are part of the reason why “we do not have 2-3 people who will have the courage, the vision of our future, who will be the collective mind of our people. Who will set and implement policies that will make our Motherland a Nation who is respected, where people are happy, and with whom no other nation can mess with.”

    We need generations of Armenians who will sacrifice, instead, we encourage our children to pursue the path of comfort and luxury. bourgeois nihilism: sending our nation into the abbyss one luxury at a time.

  21. I think the bigger and more glaring issue on hand is that Armenia’s survival 100% totally depends on Russia. They own you. If it wasn’t for the treaty you have with Russia the Turkish flag would be flying over Armenians capital right now. It’s sad that you don’t have oil, then maybe the United States would actually care. I would also like to point out that Azerbaijan‘s crushing victory weighed very heavily on Israeli drones, ballistic missiles, and military training. Enjoy your time in Jerusalem.

    • Armenians did not fight Azerbaijan. They cant fight. Azeri’s alone would have lost. Armenia fought Turkish military with Israeli direct support, with drones and intelligence.. The 2 worst human right violating counties ever. Russia is useless basically. Their only interest is making sure Turks do not occupy ITS OWN underbelly. No need to thank them. They are the reason these historic Armenian lands are in invading Turkish oil created Azeri hands in the first place. Russia ignored their supposed best Caucus ally and pretend to come to the rescue while Armenia was fighting Turkish drones. Again Russia is useless for Armenians. The sooner we all realize that the better. Armenia’s survival depends on our own UNITY and competence. 2 things lacking ..

    • Responses to the other Joe:

      1. Armenia betrayed Russia. First and foremost, Soviet Union gave away Armenian land to Azerbaijani… not Russia. The czars were nice to Armenia, and helped us retain eastern Armenia until the Soviet revolution… so for that you should blame left wingers / socialists / communists. You want Russia to recognize Artsakh when Armenian itself doesn’t? So what it sells weapons to Azerbaijan. They can get those same weapons if not better from any other country. It wouldn’t make a difference if Guatemala sold Azeris weapons. If the Russians wouldn’t be guarding Armenia proper, up and leave … Turkey and or Azerbaijan will invade, and not a single country would do anything about it except condemn. Even the best of allies always have to look out for there own interests. Everything else we agree upon.

      2. Yes we should thank Russia… or Armenian wouldn’t exist today’s date, as Israel wouldn’t of the USA didn’t exist. If Russia didn’t stop the Turks, all of Artsakh would be lost. We can thank them not only for guarding Armenia, but cheap gas , open borders for Armenians, and practically free weapons. Haven’t seen a better ally… have you?!

      Russia is useless? Have you not studied history…. or evaluated the surroundings of Armenia? That just shows you lack depth in history, and geo politics. I hate to say this… reality is the we, Armenia , are useless. We provide no benefit to Russia other than a military base and act like we are important! 😂 We get more out of that relationship than Russia… and act Vice versa. We are useless on the international stage as well.

      Regarding drones issue, again we are at fault (me and you agree on that). Israel offered to sell those same weapons and jammers to Armenia for even cheaper, our corrupt leaders said no thanks. Open market, and anyone can buy anything from anyone. If I sell my neighbor a knife… and he goes and uses it to kill… it is not me to blame… but the neighbor. He could of use to to prepare xorovatz. We need to grow up and stop blaming everyone under the sun. As they say, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

      We agree that Pashinyan is horrible , which I knew before he even became relevant. We agree that the mess we are in is our own fault. And we agree that we need unity.

  22. I do not agree with much of what this author is saying, but I don’t disagree with some of it either. It is well written, passionate, and honest. Bold to be sure.
    For example, there is no question that the Armenian Diaspora is squandering its resources on projects like the Armenian American Museum in LA, for example. Additionally, it is disconcerting to think that many of my Armenian Diasporan friends whom I grew up with actually equate fiery social media posts, reactions, and debates on social media to equal actual progress as it relates to Armenia herself. Much more puzzling are posts and actions that suggest that going to malls in the United States and “protesting” actually impacts anything other than our desire to desperately reaffirm our outrage and ethnic identity, and perhaps even guilt for not actually living in the country we so feverishly love and identify with. I support lobbying efforts by the ANC and AAA here- they do a fine job. However, it is not the end-all, be-all of the Armenian experience. I’ve been on both sides of the fence- lived, worked, employed people and payed taxes in Armenia while also being a product of the Diaspora. I’m proud of being a Diasporan. I understand both sides. However, the author overlooks poor, perhaps catastrophic decisions made by local Armenians in power. And I am not just talking about the current PM. He also overlooks a generation of Armenians not being prepared for the moment of loss that came and went. He also dismisses the lack of accessibility to Armenia by his grandparents generation (immigrants or first generation Armenians in foreign lands) and the heroic job they did in dealing with mass trauma forming important Diasporan outposts around the globe to put their kids and grandkids to be in a position to rebuilt Artsakh in the early 1990’s, assist in creating and maintaining institutions in Armenia herself since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and other individual and organizational efforts that have been crucial and necessary as we move forward hand and hand as brothers and sisters. This is not to mention securing and building an Armenian identity in us. Apo repeats a common behavioral refrain in blaming the Diaspora for everything once he is connected to his homeland. It’s natural, we’ve all done it, and it’s not just relegated to Armenians. However, it’s foolish and short sighted, not to mention a very common sentiment to show “locals” that you are more Armenian and connected to the “homeland” than your other Diasporan friends and family. It’s downright silly to be quite frank. I’ve seen this syndrome for over 30 years in our community. It’s time to remove this from our behavior. Years from now, the truth will come out as to how and why we lost the war. Some of it is fairly obvious, and other things not so much. However, one thing is for certain, the game has changed and we as Diasporans, or rather, Armenians, no longer have the luxury to do things as we used to and take our Armenian identity for granted. If we do, your children and grandchildren will be visiting that Armenian Museum in LA and reflecting on what may have been, much like the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Kurds do now- people without a state with no chance of getting it back. So, I’m glad Apo wrote this article. It gets us thinking- and hopefully acting- to prove him wrong.

  23. I hear a lot of pain and grief in this. I’m also exhausted from the shaming we do to each other. I once said that the “enemy” doesn’t have to worry because we kill each other.
    The diaspora is my home. During this global pandemic I and many other have done the best we can. The message I have heard my whole life is that it is never enough or never the right thing or I’m not Armenian enough.
    I agree that old strategies don’t work. I also believe in empowering and respecting the leadership that is there. If Armenia is to be a democratic country and able to engage in self-determination, it will take time but they have to do that.
    My own country has been falling apart. It might be turning the corner. But who knows.
    We have to stop attacking each other. We should have learned that by now.
    So, I respectfully reject that the diaspora is useless. However, I think it’s a new day and the strategy needs to change. I don’t know what that is but I’d be glad to participate in that effort.

  24. Only the voice of the ethnic Armenian Nina Garsoyan, who specializes in the history of Armenia and Byzantium, made its way out of the powerful stream of greatness and myth-making about the greatness of the Armenians, who openly stated that: “All ancient Armenian sources are false and caused by the desire to stand out among other peoples.”
    It became the Republic of Armenia only on May 28, 1918 in Tbilisi, where the declaration of independence took place among the diaspora in neighboring Georgia.
    It so happened that in the absence of a state, Armenians lived in different cities of the world, engaged in trade or craft. By the way, the Armenian merchants played a significant role in the development of Amsterdam and Lviv, but for some reason they never claimed to join them to Armenia, although everything is ahead, since, for example, in Moldova, already from local Armenians, claims to the territory of Moldova and to the ethnicity of one of the most prominent rulers of the Moldavian principality of the 15-16 centuries Stefan Chel Mare.
    I see that the Armenians liked living in virtual reality so much that they decided not to get out of this reality at all and invent a mythical story for themselves. The myths about Tigranes the Great are so absurd that they are akin to tales about the conquest of Ancient China by the Russians – it was not here, a very long time ago, and completely untrue. Thus, the Armenians became victims of their own history, that is, the history that was composed by the Armenian false historians.
    In the doctrine of “Great Armenia” incompatible things are strangely mixed – the desire to have a modern state at the expense of the territory of all neighboring states and the non-recognition of international law. The desire of two thousand years ago from the time of Tigran the Great does not in any way correspond to the principles that modern Armenia undertook to recognize when joining the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.
    Dear Armenians, I am sincerely sorry for you … Recover !
    We must put an end to this insanity and save our people from myth-making and fascism.
    At one time, the Germans recovered from the Mein Kampf doctrine and after which they became so successful that today everyone is envious of them.
    Learn to finally live amicably with all your neighbors.

  25. Who says it over? Who says its lost forever? Azeris lost the first war and since have had a stance that they will regain their loss. Armenians need the same approach. But I know that wont happen until the loser of All Armenians, Pashinyan the incompetent traitor, is removed and a new forward thinking, UNITING leader, takes over. AGAIN, UNITY is our only answer. Living in Armenia doesn’t equal winning. Ridding the 17 divisional political factions is a must. UNITY, One Armenia, Artsakh and diaspora is the only answer.. nothing else.

  26. if you pay taxes in the US or EU you have the blood of Armenians on your hands. It is insanely easy to move to Armenia and live in your homeland. We do not need a diaspora, we need taxpayers.
    I also dont want to hear anything about corruption. Armenia is no worse than any other country, there is just so much western funded media that makes people believe they live in an African colony.
    If you feel guilty about bringing Pashinyan into power now is the time to make up for it, not put the blame on Russia
    move to Armenia or stop calling yourself Armenian

    • Have peace with Turkey and all problems will be solved. If not…Even 10 million extra Armenians in Armenia would not make a difference.

  27. You do not speak for me, as I have done my duty over and above what most Armenians in diaspora did. Dont you dare blame the defeat on the diaspora, we as individuals and organizations tried many many times to engage the authorities in Armenia, thugs and criminals all of them, all they ever wanted was what would the get out it…. Leade after leader along with their cronies raped and pillaged Armenia, hundreds of millions remains unaccounted for, almost all of it stolen by successive governments ruled by criminals.
    Even the Lincy Foundation finally gave up, these thugs and criminals including Karekin 11 are corrupt beyond help, the same situation applies a thousands times throughout our history. Tell me what happened to over $100 Million that simply got sucked up by the government from the Haystan fund? and this was not the first time, hundreds of mansions for thugs we funded over the years from Der Petrossyan to the biggest thug of them all Sarigsyan…
    I for one am about to give up on

  28. I disagree that the Diaspora is useless.
    Please see below the just the Armenia Artsakh Fund 2022 Report: –

    Harut Sassounian wrote : As President of Armenia Artsakh Fund, I would like to publicize our latest information:⬇️ARM⬇️
    AAF Shipped $968 Million of Aid in 33 years; $21 Million in 2022, to Armenia and Artsakh.
    Glendale, CA — In the past 33 years, the Armenia Artsakh Fund (AAF), including the shipments under its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund, delivered to Armenia and Artsakh a grand total of $968 million worth of humanitarian assistance on board 158 airlifts and 2,540 sea containers.
    During the twelve months of 2022, AAF shipped to Armenia and Artsakh $21 million of medicines, medical supplies and other relief products, including $2.8 million of aid during the fourth quarter of 2022. Of this amount, Americares donated $1.8 million and Direct Relief $1 million donated to AAF for Armenia and Artsakh,.

    The large amount medicines, medical supplies and Clorox wipes donated during this period were sent to the AGBU Claudia Nazarian Medical Center for Syrian Armenian Refugees in Yerevan, Arabkir United Children’s Foundation, Fund for Armenian Relief, Kanaker Zeytoun Medical Center, Metsn Nerces Charitable Organization, Muratsan Children’s Endocrinology Center, National Hematology Center, St. Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, and the health ministries of Armenia and Artsakh.

    “The Armenia Artsakh Fund is regularly offered free of charge millions of dollars of life-saving medicines and medical supplies. All we have to do is pay for the shipping expenses. We welcome your generous donations to be able to continue delivering this valuable assistance to all medical centers in Armenia and Artsakh,” stated Harut Sassounian, the President of AAF.

  29. They are good for cheering on from 1000s of miles away. Meanwhile, they flee to USA for welfare benefits, coffee at 11AM and hanging out from noon till late PM. Also, installing defend Artsakh decals on their late model cars and driving around in Glendale.
    My late Grandfather who fought these bastards, is rolling in his grave. RIP

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