BEVERLY HILLS–Armenia’s newly-appointed Diaspora Minister, Hranoush Hakopyan, Wednesday explained that the newly-created ministry aims to consolidate all forces of the Diaspora and homeland to enhance the development of the entire Armenian nation.
At a meeting with Armenian press representatives, Hakopyan outlined the four main objectives of the ministry, among them development of programs to strengthen Armenia-Diaspora relations, establishing a new 21st century national identity, which aims at harnessing the strength of the 10-million strong Armenian nation and encouraging the participation of all realms of the Diaspora for the development of the nation.
Since its inception first as a department working within the foreign ministry and later as a full-fledged ministry, Hakopyan has signed several agreemen’s, including one with the National Academy of Sciences to establish an Armenian Diaspora Studies chair in Armenia’s universities and one with the United Nations Development Program to accommodate for jobs for Diaspora Armenia’s who are willing to work within the ministry.
Hakopyan also said that the ministry would like to utilize technology to improve and encourage open lines of communications, adding that a new six-language Web Site is under development to meet the needs of the ministry.
The minister did say that extensive research on the history, sociology, economy and psychology of the Armenian Diaspora was needed to fully develop and carry out projects in the long run. In the short term, however, the Diaspora Ministry is seeking to develop Diaspora experts who can accommodate the needs of the ministry.
She placed special emphasis on new Diaspora communities in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc as a focal point for organizing, adding that the most effective solution was to establish Sunday schools in those communities to engage a new generation and bring the communities together.
Her aim, she said is to encourage young Diaspora Armenia’s to visit Armenia and as such develop a bond with the homeland as a key to maintaining Armenian identity in future generations of Armenia’s.
In addressing the role of the ministry in dealing with the Armenian community of Turkey, the minister explained that she recently met with author Fethiye Cetin who she said "entered the room as a Turk but she left, in my eyes, as an Armenian."
Cetin is the author of “My Grandmother: A Memoir,” which chronicles the life of a Turkish woman who discovers her Armenian heritage.
Hakopyan said that the ministry is devising a strategy to deal with this reality, experienced by hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s, who throughout the years have changed their identity but are finding their Armenian roots in modern times.
The minister was clear to point out that the ministry was intent on learning from past mistakes and to ensure the new body would truly serve as a bridge between the homeland and the Diaspora, with the motto of "Return to the homeland" aimed at encouraging a tie between each Diaspora Armenian and the homeland.
She recounted another call to repatriate in the 1940s, which had dire consequences for many who left their Diaspora existence and returned to then Soviet Armenia, only to find discrimination and the promise of a better life unfulfilled.
"I would like to offer my sincere apologies to all those who came to Armenia in the 1940s but were met with dire circumstances," announced Hakopyan.