A Couple of Notable Words in Arayik Harutyunyan‘s Inaugural Address
The fourth president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh took his oath of office on Thursday, May 21. There are many observations that could be made about the ceremony – the broadcast and the narrative it creates, how it portrays and situates the new leader, Arayik Harutyunyan, within it, the implicit and explicit context created by the visuals, locations, and music, alongside the protocols surrounding the inauguration.
I was drawn to one paragraph in Harutyunyan’s speech:
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Երեւանում Գանդիի Արձանը՝ Ողջունելի Փաստ
Պատրիկ Ազատյանը Երեւանում տեղադրուելիք Մահաթմա Գանդիի արձանի գաղափարին դէմ իր յօդուածում բովանդակալից փաստարկներ է առաջ բերում: Գանդիի քաղաքական ժառանգութիւնն իսկապէս վիճայարոյց է: Ինչպէս Ազատյանն է նշում, Գանդիի առաջնորդած Հնդկական Ազգային Համագումարը 1920-ականների սկզբին Խալիֆայութեան Շարժմանն էր աջակցում՝ որպէս երկրի հսկայ մահմեդական բնակչութեան հետ համագործակցելու հարթակ: Այն օսմանեան փլուզուող կայսրութեան սուլթանի հանդէպ գաղութատիրական ուժերի կողմից տեղադրուած սահմանափակումներին ընդդէմ շարժում էր. սուլթանը խալիֆն էր՝ այսինքն, սուննի մահմեդականութեան առաջնորդը: (Երբ Մուսթաֆա Քէմալը անցաւ իշխանութեան եւ աշխարհիկ հանրապետութիւն հիմնեց Թուրքիայում, նա խալիֆայութեանը ամբողջովին վերջ դրեց, այնպէս որ այդ շարժումը մարուեց:) Հայ ազգայնականների համար Գանդիի կապը Խալիֆայութեան Շարժման հետ բացասական կէտ կարող է հանդիսանալ:
A Statue of Mahatma Gandhi is Welcome in Yerevan
Patrick Azadian puts forward some meaningful arguments in his article against the plan for a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Yerevan. Gandhi’s political legacy is indeed controversial. As Azadian outlined, the Indian National Congress led by Gandhi supported the Khilafat Movement in the early 1920s as a platform for co-operating with the large Muslim population in the country. They were protesting the limitations placed by the colonial powers on the Ottoman Sultan – who served as Caliph, or head of Sunni Islam – as the empire was collapsing. (Once Mustafa Kemal came to power and established a secular republic in Turkey, he abolished the caliphate outright, so that movement subsided.) For Armenian nationalists, Gandhi’s association with the Khilafat Movement could be a sore point.
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The Armenian Genocide, Modern Times & The Surrounding Region
“Our hero enlightens himself on a topic that he really should know more about. Lets get educational.
Less lols this week but much more interesting and hopefully y’all can learn something.
As we hear in this episode, I personally, had never heard of the Armenian genocide. But years ago, outside a bar in Berlin – I heard someone reference it. And since then, it has kind of just stayed in my memory without really learning much about it.
Wouldn’t it be great if I had some form of vehicle where I could interview people and learn more about topics that I wanted to learn more about?”
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Անհնար է Սփյուռքի միասնական մարմին ստեղծել
Վերջերս ՀՀ Սփյուռքի գործերի գլխավոր հանձնակատար Զարեհ Սինանյանը Սիվիլնեթի հետ հարցազրույցում շոշափեց «ամբողջ սփյուռքի միասնական մարմին ունենալու» գաղափարը: Նման միտք անցյալում էլ է հնչել, օրինակ 2010-ին` լոսնաջելեսահայ հայտնի սյունակագիր Հարութ Սասունյանի եւ նախկինում ավելի աշխույժ գիտական խմբակ Policy Forum Armenia-ի կողմից:
Այդ գաղափարն ինչքան էլ արտացոլի ազգային միասնականության զգացմունքը, իրականում բնավ իրատեսական չէ, մի քանի պատճառով:
A Unified Diasporan Representation is Unrealistic
In a recent interview with CivilNet, the Republic of Armenia’s High Commissioner for Diasporan Affairs Zareh Sinanyan touched upon the notion of “having a body unifying the entire diaspora”. This idea has come up in the past, such as in a column by the well-known Los Angeles-based writer Harout Sassounian and in a report by Policy Forum Armenia, a formerly more active research group, both back in 2010.
As much as that idea reflects a feeling of national unity, it is not feasible in reality, for a few reasons.
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An influx of foreign residents and visitors is changing the face of Armenia
A quick walk from Republic Square, an LED sign lights up for a store. The place advertises itself in Armenian, English, Russian, and Farsi. Four languages, four entirely different scripts—a doubly literal and figurative sign of Armenia as a crossroads of cultures with a lively tradition of global trade cutting through borders.
Over the past decade and more, as Armenia and Armenians have reached out to the world for business, education, or tourism, foreigners have been beating a small, steady, and lasting path toward the country. According to the Migration Service of the Republic of Armenia, 18,856 foreign citizens had received temporary, permanent, or special residency status by the end of June, 2019, half of whom were from Russia, Iran, and India, with Syria and the United States trailing not too far behind. The numbers have been a bit erratic over the past five years (see figure), but a recent upward trend is notable.
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The US Congress’ recognition of the Armenian Genocide goes beyond trying to vex Turkey
Amidst all the ruckus over impeachment, Ukraine and whistleblowers at Congress, the House of Representatives took a landmark decision on Tuesday 29 October, to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide.
Various incarnations of the resolution, which passed overwhelmingly by 405-11, have appeared and been shelved on a number of occasions over the past few decades. Pushed forward by Armenian-American advocacy groups with the support of key representatives and senators, it was always countered by lobbying led by the Turkish government, often with the backing of the State Department or the defence establishment.
Although a majority of scholars have long agreed that the experience of the Armenians and other non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War amounts to genocide, the government of Turkey denies that designation, instead describing the massacres and deportations as general wartime catastrophes during which Muslim populations suffered and died as well.
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Episode 44 (1 of 2): Armenia, Armenians & Armenian-ness
In this first half of our two-part conversation with Nareg Seferian we speak about the Armenian Genocide, the modern state of Armenia, the Armenian diaspora, and Armenian identity.
listen to part 1
Episode 45 (2 of 2): Armenia, Armenians & Armenian-ness
In this second half of our two-part conversation with Nareg Seferian we speak about the Armenian Genocide, the modern state of Armenia, the Armenian diaspora, and Armenian identity.
listen to part 2
Book Review: The Dreamt Land
The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California
By Mark Arax
576 pp., Knopf
For two summers in a row, I had the privilege of acting as an interpreter for a team of auditors of an international development organization which was involved in a reservoir and irrigation project in Armenia. My two big memories from that experience were the adage, “Water is life” and how rural individuals and groups in Armenia had it in them to get organized and advocate for themselves in the face of a rather rigid government and a major global donor. It was moving and impressive.
The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax has numerous such tales to share in the continuing saga of “Water is life” across a territory about 15 times the size of Armenia with a history of pipelines, wells, irrigations, dams and claims and counter-claims on land and land use that date back two centuries. The book is in part a history of California told through its management of water and other natural resources and a compilation of investigative reporting pieces, alongside profiles of notable figures past and present. There’s also plenty of social commentary, as well as autobiographical elements. It is a lengthy piece of writing – sometimes disjointed, often very much detailed – but always revolving around the same key question: Who gets to decide what to do with the land and the water in California, how and why?
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Home away from home
Mutig in die neuen Zeiten,
Frei und gläubig sieh uns schreiten,
Arbeitsfroh und hoffnungsreich.
Einig lass in Jubelchören,
Vaterland, dir Treue schwören.
The Austrian national anthem consists of three verses, each ending with a reverential description of the country – much-vaunted Austria, much-tested Austria, much-beloved Austria. The lyrics, composed after WWII, are telling. Austria, situated in the middle of the Continent, had had to re-invent itself as a republic following the fall of the House of Habsburg with the end of the First World War; and within two generations, had again to re-imagine its place in the world, in the aftermath of its wartime Nazi associations.
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Book Review: Mr Five Per Cent
Mr Five Per Cent: The Many Lives of Calouste Gulbenkian, the World’s Richest Man
Profile Books, 2019
As the title suggests, there is more than one Calouste Gulbenkian portrayed in this comprehensive biography by Jonathan Conlin. Two in particular stand out: Calouste the indefatigable man of business and Calouste the Armenian, who belongs to everywhere and to nowhere. For both and more, Conlin has put together a revelatory piece of writing, having gained access to the archives at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal, among a broad variety of other sources. Combined with his adept skills as a historian and storyteller, Conlin’s work makes for engaging reading. (Some disclosure: I had the privilege and pleasure of assisting with archival research for this book.)
As far as the first Calouste goes, this book offers a detailed account of the life and efforts of a remarkable and influential man whose actions informed key aspects of the world’s economy in the 20th century. The development of the oil industry and the financial practices and networks associated with it owe a great deal to Gulbenkian, as does the shaping of commerce between the Western world’s powers and other regions at a time when European colonial empires were being challenged by a rising United States and an upstart Soviet Union.
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