When our organization established itself in the Diaspora and set itself out to struggle against apathy and assimilation among Armenian youth, it did so with the expectation that we would eventually gain the opportunity to return to a free, independent, and united Armenia. Maintaining the Diaspora and Armenian identity outside of the homeland has always been carried out with an eye toward one-day returning to the lands we were ripped away from.
Our struggle for Hai Tahd also comes directly from this condition of being deprived of our historic homeland and being exiled to foreign countries. Those who have sacrificed themselves and given their lives for this struggle, have always spoken of the need for our lands and freedom for Armenia to prosper. When Hampig Sassounian recently gave an interview to the Voice of Van radio station in Beirut, he openly called on the Lebanese-Armenian community to repatriate to Armenia. In his words, “Our time in the Middle East has passed by now. The time has come for repatriation to Armenia. From now on, we must think about gathering our families and children and going to Armenia, where future generations will be much more fortunate then of those who are living in foreign countries.”
Today, we live in a historic era where Armenia is once again an independent state. We must realize that the torch has been passed to us to strengthen and enhance the Armenian Republic. Just as the fedayees of yesteryear flocked to Armenia and sacrificed themselves for the yergir, one of the main tasks of this generation is to commit itself to the development, democratization, and defense of Armenia. Ideally, this would entail going directly there and fully joining our compatriots in the struggle for Armenia’s betterment.
There are hopeful signs that this process of repatriation to Armenia is slowly picking up steam. According to Armenia’s migration agency, the country has steadily registered a positive migration balance since 2004, with the number of people coming to Armenia exceeding the number leaving by 21,500 in 2006.
We also see that young people from around the world have been visiting Armenia in greater numbers over recent years. Some are even deciding to permanently settle there. A growing economy and warmer relations with the Diaspora seem to be the main driving forces behind these developments. By serving as a bridge for youth wanting to travel directly to Armenia and Artsakh, programs such as Youth Corps also play a crucial role in this overall process.
However, the work being done on the Genocide recognition front should also be seen in light of our commitment to strengthening Armenia. A denialist and unrepentant Turkey poses a lethal threat to the security and rights of the Armenian Republic. It is in the mutual interest of both Armenia and the Diaspora to have Turkey face up to its past and own up to its crimes. This mutual interest has been clearly manifested in everything from the mass demonstrations in Yerevan on the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide to the more recent jubilation in Armenia over the US House Foreign Affairs Committee’s passage of H.Res.106 (the Armenian Genocide Resolution).
In all of these endeavors, we must utilize opportunities to solidify our bonds with the homeland and promote the concept of Tebi Yergir. It is of utmost importance that we understand the value of this powerful concept and do all in our power to strengthen Armenia’s vitality.