Restoring Armenian Identity

By Alec Manicone, New York “Hyortik” chapter

The Armenian Youth Federation Eastern Region is pleased to present the winners of the 2024 AYF Camp Haiastan Campership Essay Contest. The first and second place winners in each age category were announced at AYF Junior Seminar over Memorial Day weekend. Manicone’s essay, which won second place in the younger group (ages 10-12), answered the following prompt: Let’s time travel to 2034: What do you think Armenia will look like then? What steps can you take to build the Armenia you want to see in 10 years? What steps can you take to build the Artsakh you want to see in 10 years?

Central Junior Council with Ari Shirozian, Philadelphia “Papken Suni” chapter, and Alec Manicone, New York “Hyortik” chapter, younger group winners

I’m only 12 years old but have incredible visions for Armenia and the Armenian people. Armenian people have a connection and a cultural identity that brings a sense of security, ever since Armenia has become an independent nation after the USSR. The Armenia that everyone had wished for was there. Armenia has been dealing with disgusting acts of terrorism and ethnic genocide by the Azerbaijani regime. Unfortunately, Artsakh is out of Armenian control and is being ethnically cleansed with many churches and ancient Armenian ruins being destroyed. This is a tragic thing that is being blocked out of the world. I have a great vision and idea to not only save Artsakh but to restore Armenian identity and power throughout the whole world.

Armenia is a Christian country surrounded by two Muslim countries known as Turkey and Azerbaijan, two countries that have committed genocide on the Armenian people and had visions of removal of any historical Armenian presence. I think that the Armenian government needs to become closer with more powerful regimes in the area, such as Iran. Many people including myself think that Iran has done some terrible things but is a powerful nation that also has territorial disputes with Azerbaijan. If Armenia was ever in serious problems they would have their neighbors who have proven throughout the year that they will help and provide for Armenia. This would be good to have a neighbor who helps, especially since Azerbaijan has Turkey as their devoted puppet. Another thing I would do to support Armenian power would be to pause all extra funding to anything that does not associate with Armenia. I would get this money by letting our economy thrive by deporting our natural resources unlike right now where our deportation is low due to the scarcity of war. This is also where the relations with other countries comes to play where they will help with trade and financial aid. All in all, I would put that money to a full military makeover to assist with the security of another Azerbaijani war. The Artsakh that I want to see in 10 years has to be built off a successful reality or it may not be Artsakh and will stay in Azeri control. Something else that the Armenian government should do is reach out to the West, which we have been seeing them do these past couple of months. This is great to have as the West is a powerful force and can be used for great Armenian aid just in case of another war. In my opinion, Armenia can be a useful country for America as well. Being one of the only Christian countries in a Muslim majority area, also near the Middle East, a place where America is located and based a lot. The Middle East is a difficult and dangerous area in the world, but if America had a Christian and willing country like Armenia that would higher their representation in the Middle East and could be an advantage to future relations between the two nations. America is a country that can help Armenia with money and their economy, while Iran is a country that can militarily help Armenia as a nearby neighbor.

Once Artsakh is restored and Armenia is a powerful country, I will restore Armenian presence into Artsakh and will preserve all of the ethnic churches and monuments from the danger they are being put into right now. I will invest in the military for the region to make sure there are no other attacks to the region by neighboring countries such as Azerbaijan. I think that we will rebuild a self-run government in Artsakh, but it will be a region of Armenia. Artsakh will become a thriving region and will bring in a lot as they should use their natural metals, such as gold to make an economic power. Artsakh should be a fun place of culture, and the people there should get to feel secure like anyone deserves to be, and by doing these things we can build an Artsakh that the citizens can feel safe and not have to deal with losing their homes and families ever again. This risk of suffering not only scares the people away but major countries and businesses due to it being very political and not a very secure area to thrive. This is why we need to make sure that this just doesn’t stay that way but that we do something about it so that in 10 years we can help our country and not bring it down.

Now all of this is a successful step to improvement. Therefore, after stating my perfect Artsakh and my Armenian dream I will say it with no fear and no shame that Artsakh will be great, and Armenia will be successful, if the government lets it!

Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.

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