Professional potential of Armenian students for the homeland

Recently, the ARF Bureau’s Office of Youth Affairs announced the launch of the research program “Armenian Students for Artsakh.” This program was initiated in “light of the critical period that Artsakh is currently experiencing and the pressing need to utilize the academic and professional skills of Armenian students and scholars for the greater Armenian cause, particularly in relation to Artsakh.” The main goal of the project is to bring together Armenian students in the fields of political science, economics, sociology, law, culture and investigative journalism, who will contribute their research to institutions involved in Armenian causes.

The 2020 Artsakh war showed that the period of weapons of the 20th century is over. To fight against the opponent or the enemy, it is necessary to study its current political and economic situation, promote analytical thinking among our students, develop the economy of our homeland, improve the border regions and strengthen our army, while encouraging the creation of a specialized generation.

In 2021, a similar program, “Towards Syunik,” was implemented to spotlight the challenges facing the Syunik region. Back then, some thought that by compromising on the Artsakh conflict, Armenia’s territorial integrity would have been secured. This narrative turned out to be wrong, as the ARF warned that without Artsakh, Armenians will never be secure in their homeland. “Towards Syunik” illustrated that Armenian students are not only interested in issues of importance to our homeland, but are also capable of highlighting problems with analytical and investigative approaches and developing solutions.

Through “Armenian Students for Artsakh,” Armenian students from around the world have the opportunity to critically assess the situation in Artsakh. They also have a unique opportunity to work with well-known, specialized consultants, to carry out important professional studies and to counter the challenges facing the homeland.

The materials included in the program can be divided into the following groups, with their accompanying mentors. 

The Armenian issue in general, and the Artsakh issue in particular, and its international perception and manifestations: 

  • The destructive impact of the blockade of Artsakh on the rights and mental state of the children of Artsakh
    Gegham Stepanyan, Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Artsakh
  • Blockade of the Berdzor Corridor as a war crime, from the International Law perspective
    Siranush Sahakian, Head of the Armenian Center for International and Comparative Law
  • Azerbaijan’s Caviar Diplomacy in Europe
    Heghineh Evinian, Director of European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy
  • The Aliyev family and Azerbaijan’s foreign investments and manifestations of corruption
    Harut Sassounian, Editor-in-chief of the California Courier newspaper
  • The importance of the implementation of sanctions against Azerbaijan
    Aram Hamparian, Executive director of the ANCA office in Washington
  • The importance of involving international humanitarian organizations in Artsakh
    Vicken Ashkarian, Collaborator at International Organization for Humanitarian Aid
  • Artsakh issue on the agenda of international organizations
    Mario Nalbandian, Member of the Central Council of the ARF Hai Tahd, Socialist International Vice President

These seven studies can be useful for the lobbying activities of the “Hai Tahd” and the executive bodies of the Republic of Armenia to Western governments, with the aim to counter Azerbaijani propaganda and exert pressure on Baku. These studies may also unearth new resolutions in favor of Artsakh and Armenia in the parliaments of foreign countries. Moreover, such studies can be the basis for the adoption of economic sanctions against the dictatorial regime of Aliyev.

Economic and diplomatic relations of Azerbaijan:

  • Azerbaijan’s Energy Policy with Russia and the West
    Yeghia Tashjian, Associate Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute – American University of Beirut
  • Relations between Azerbaijan and Israel
    Shahan Kandaharian, Editor-in-chief of Beirut Aztag Daily
  • National minorities of Azerbaijan
    Edgar Elbakyan, Co-founder of the Armenian Project
  • Azerbaijan’s relations with regional powers
    Abraham Gasparyan, founding director of Genesis Armenia Center

These four studies are related to Azerbaijan’s internal politics and its geopolitical and geoeconomic position within the region. After the 2020 war, the main challenge facing Azerbaijan has been to conduct a balanced policy with Russia, Turkey and the West, while using oil and gas as a pressure card in order to gain concessions from the West and Russia regarding Artsakh. Also, analyzing Israel’s role is closely related to Iran’s role in the region.

Artsakh, the stronghold of Armenian resilience 

  • The nation-army system ideology in Armenia and Artsakh
    Former Deputy Supreme Commander, Lieutenant General Tiran Khachatryan
  • Azerbaijan’s political and academic attempts to distort history
    Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports of the Republic of Artsakh Lernik Hovhannisyan
  • The potential of unconventional water resources in Artsakh
    Hovsep Der Kevorkian, ARF Bureau member and water resources specialist
  • The urgent necessity to preserve the spiritual and non-material heritage of Artsakh
    Father Garegin Hambardzumyan, Director of Artsakh’s spiritual and cultural heritage preservation office in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
  • Possibilities of increasing the resilience of the Artsakh’s economy
    Suren Parsyan, ARF Bureau Economic Research Office director
  • Armenian humanitarian assistance to Artsakh Armenians after the 44-day war
    Lilit Martirosyan, Chairwoman of ARS Artsakh

These six studies are devoted to cultural, social, economic and political issues in Artsakh, Azerbaijan’s historical falsification and its genocidal policy. For both Armenia and Artsakh, the above-mentioned topics can be levers to protect Artsakh’s Armenians and preserve the Armenian identity of Artsakh against Baku’s genocidal ambitions.

About the competition

To fight against the opponent or the enemy, it is necessary to study its current political and economic situation, promote analytical thinking among our students, develop the economy of our homeland, improve the border regions and strengthen our army, while encouraging the creation of a specialized generation.

The submitted papers will be evaluated based on five criteria: modernity, feasibility significance, research work capacity, objective basis of the work and compliance with technical requirements. The goal is not necessarily to publish academic articles, nor to be satisfied only with analysis, but rather studies should present proposals that have the nature of a “policy paper/problem-solution” in which the student provides at least one policy proposal addressing the challenges mentioned. Such studies can open the door to discussions in the academic and political circles of Armenia. For example, rather than analyzing the blockade of Artsakh and its consequences or causes, students can suggest practical means of lifting the blockade, keeping in mind the current political and economic resources of Armenia and the Diaspora. In other words, being realistic is imperative. As critical thinkers, we have to go beyond mere slogan rhetoric or cheap populism. 

Completed projects will be examined by a judicial panel of consultants. All students who participate in the competition will receive symbolic gifts. The authors of the best studies selected by the jury will receive scholarships: first prize – $1,000 USD, second prize – $750 USD and third prize – $500 USD.

At the conclusion of the competition, an online conference will be convened where the best studies will be presented to the public. All the works will be published in the press. The results of the competition will be announced on November 1 of this year.

Every study will contribute to the Armenian cause, and today it is imperative that the political elite of Armenia listen to the concerns of our students and take into consideration their proposals.

Yeghia Tashjian

Yeghia Tashjian

Yeghia Tashjian is a regional analyst and researcher. He has graduated from the American University of Beirut in Public Policy and International Affairs. He pursued his BA at Haigazian University in political science in 2013. In 2010, he founded the New Eastern Politics forum/blog. He was a research assistant at the Armenian Diaspora Research Center at Haigazian University. Currently, he is the regional officer of Women in War, a gender-based think tank. He has participated in international conferences in Frankfurt, Vienna, Uppsala, New Delhi and Yerevan. He has presented various topics from minority rights to regional security issues. His thesis topic was on China’s geopolitical and energy security interests in Iran and the Persian Gulf. He is a contributor to various local and regional newspapers and a presenter of the “Turkey Today” program for Radio Voice of Van. Recently he has been appointed as associate fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and Middle East-South Caucasus expert in the European Geopolitical Forum.

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