Led by Hranush Hakobyan since its inception in October of 2008. Its mission: to preserve, utilize and repatriate the Diaspora.
By Tamar Yardemian
Diasporan people have become increasingly common in the 21st century, as people immigrate into more economically advanced countries in search for better opportunities of living. Yet it is quite uncommon for small republics to dedicate a ministry of their government to the Diasporan entities of that country. Does Armenia’s bold move of dedicating an entire Ministry to Diasporan Affairs in October 2008 illustrate the importance of Diasporans to the vitality of the Republic of Armenia?
Either way, this is an unprecedented opportunity to fully engage Diasporans in reconnecting with the homeland both physically and emotionally. The opportunities of the Ministry are endless: an organized method of connecting the Armenian government with its people abroad.
The general goals of the Ministry have been emphasized through interviews with Hranush Hakobyan, the newly appointed head of Diaspora Affairs: (1) Preservation of Armenian identity – culture, faith and language; (2) Utilizing Diasporans to empower the homeland in progression; (3) Repatriation – return to the homeland and to one’s roots. These goals are quite general and can be pursued through many avenues. Thus far, Mrs. Hakobyan has made several visits abroad and has been speaking publicly about newly initiated programs.
‘Ari Tun’ (Come Home) is the name of the campaign being launched to encourage Diasporan tourism into Armenia, and thereby instigate spiritual and financial efforts into the development of Armenia. Another project has been titled ‘Days of Honor’ where famous and influential Diasporan Armenians will be celebrated in Armenia through specified days in their honor. Among these names are Charles Aznavour, Kirk Krikorian and Alek Manookian. More substantial examples of launched programs are the building of ties with Armenians living in Latin American because they have been identified with the danger of alienation. The Ministry is facilitating educational programs to exchange teachers and enter Diasporan youth into Armenian universities. Educational programs and technological opportunities have taken the forefront of all news related to the Ministry of Diasporan Affairs.
Are these programs nearly enough to fulfill the goals of preservation, utilization and repatriation of the Diaspora? There are continuing conversations about long-term implementations of these objectives. But the true question lies in the selection the goals themselves. What if all efforts were geared towards the broader objective of securing the existence and future of Armenians at home and abroad? As we enter the era of globalization in the 21st century, it may be more realistic to work towards the unity and continuity of the Armenian people across the world. Unification not only by language and culture, but united as well through citizenship, paying taxes, full cooperation in lobbying efforts, and undenied opportunity for employment of Diasporan Armenians in the private, public and nonprofit sectors of Armenia and Kharabagh.
As the Ministry of Diasporan Affairs works to engage us who live outside our homeland, we should take the initiative to respond with opinions about our destiny as Diasporans.