YEREVAN—With the participation of more than 1,800 from 71 countries, the sixth Armenia-Diaspora Conference kicked off on Monday at the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex. The conference entitled, “Mutual Confidence, Unity, and Responsibility,” will address topics such as national security, defense, foreign policy and economic development.
Following welcoming remarks by Armenia’s Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakopyan, the opening ceremony included remarks by President Serzh Sarkisian, Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
In his remarks, Sarkisian discussed the Karabakh conflict, saying that Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian and xenophobic policies force Armenia to harden its approach toward mutual concessions. He also urged Diaspora Armenians to resettle in the homeland, reiterating his pledge to increase Armenia’s population by 2020. Soon after the opening ceremony, Sarkisian left for New York where he will be speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.
In his remarks, President Sahakian highlighted the strategic importance of the items on the conference agenda, saying that a collective approach to the challenges facing the Armenian homeland would be more beneficial.
Catholicos Karekin II said that each Armenian is a soldier and servant of the homeland and urged unity in confronting the challenges facing the homeland.
It was Catholicos Aram I, however, whose message touched on some of the critical realities of Homeland-Diaspora relations.
“We are at a critical crossroads of our history. Let us be realistic and honest. Armenia is emptying, and the Diaspora is wearing out. In the face of this dangerous reality, random initiatives cannot solve our troubles and heal our wounds. The signs of the time must be read correctly, the diagnosis must be made accurately, and the appropriate decisions and effective remedies must be applied properly,” said Catholicos Aram I during his remarks.
While large delegations arrived in Armenia from Russia, the United States, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Australia, Turkey, and Artsakh, representatives from Malaysia, Japan, Mexico and Sudan are also participating in the event for the first time. Representatives of the Armenian Diaspora organizations of Belgium, USA, Russia, Argentina, Lebanon, Portugal, Canada, Iran, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria will make presentations.
Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is also participating the conference and will be a panelist in a session to be held Tuesday. He said that he was proud to be in Armenia as a member of the Turkish parliament
The conference will feature several panels focusing on the development of Armenia, the foreign policy agenda, security and defense and issues of preservation of Armenian identity and will include experts from Armenia and Diaspora who will be addressing the two-day conference.
During Monday’s session Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan, Artsakh Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan and Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau’s political representative and the leader of the party’s parliamentary faction, Armen Rustamyan, addressed the conference.