Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakopyan Visits Boston


WATERTOWN, Mass. — The new Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakopyan
visited the Armenian community of Boston on June 29 and 30.

She was met at the airport by Kevork Marashlian, executive secretary of Tekeyan Cultural Association. He later escorted her to the Baikar building, home of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, where a press conference took place with the participation of the editors of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, the Armenian Weekly, Hairenik Weekly and the Armenian Independent Radio of Boston. Armenia’s ambassador in Washington, Tatoul Markarian, accompanied Hakopyan during her visit.

During an hour-long press conference, Hakopyan expressed her enthusiasm for her new position, as well as the interdependence of the diaspora and the Republic of Armenia.

She said, “The Republic of Armenia is 18-years old. [President] Serge Sargisian created this ministry, and I think it’s been created 18 years too late. We want to be the voice of the diaspora in the government. We want to coordinate with other bodies and strengthen ties between Armenia and the diaspora.”

In helping Armenia, she said, in turn the country helps the diaspora remain Armenian. “The diaspora has a lot of resources that can help Armenia. Two thirds of the population lives outside of Armenia. We don’t want to force them to come to Armenia, but we want to tie them to Armenia.”

She noted that she has just signed a bill that would authorize a diaspora studies major at Yerevan State University.

She touched on the different Armenian Diasporas and their different needs. For example, she said, in Russia, the biggest diaspora, Armenians assimilate very quickly; others, like Iraq, she said, require assistance in terms of various needs.

The ministry, which is based in Yerevan’s Republic Square, is working on a booklet for Diasporan Armenians to help them when they visit Armenia.

“We need to create a pan-Armenian feeling. Armenia is forever and we should
strengthen the republic. Armenia is not just for Armenians or the Diaspora
Armenians; it is for all of us. That is our foundation,” she said.

She noted that the ministry will aim to not just create Armenia-diaspora ties, but ties within the diasporan communities. Among the programs that the ministry is in the process of proposing are encouraging couples to marry and honeymoon in Armenia, as well as creating a pan-Armenian bank. In addition, she said, the ministry is printing books in both eastern and western dialects of Armenian and sending them to communities that need them.

Later, Hakopyan visited Saint James Armenian Church and  met with Rev. Arakel Aljalian. She continued her visit to the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), where she met with Haig Der Manuelian, chairman of the Board of Directors of ALMA, toured the museum and the library. She visited the offices of the Armenia Tree Project, Armenian International Women’s Association and Project Save, which are located in the same building.

At the same night at her Sheraton Commander Hotel suite, gracefully provided by the Guleserian family, she met with James Kalustian and Don Tellalian, chairman and architect of the Genocide monument at Armenian Heritage Park, respectively, and listened to the details and observed the images of the future park and the Genocide memorial.

Reception and Meeting with Community Leaders

At night, leaders of all Armenian organizations of Greater Boston were invited by the Embassy of Armenia to a reception held at the Sheraton Commander Hotel ballroom. The reception was hosted by Nishan and Margrit Atinizian.

After prayers by Rev. Avedis Boynerian of the Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown, Marashlian welcomed Hakopyan to Boston. Master of Ceremonies Carolyn Atinizian then presented Markarian to the audience, who thanked the Atinizians for hosting the event and said he should have visited this vibrant community long ago. He then presented Hakopyan.

She started her eloquent speech by saying “Armenia has seven million ambassadors all over the world” and each ambassador is doing its best for Armenia. She said President Serge Sargisian started the Diaspora Ministry nine months ago by the demand of Armenians living outside Armenia. Each diaspora community is different by character, language and way of life. Our approach to the Armenian living in Moscow is different than the Armenian living in Sydney and so on.

She said the main objectives of the ministry are to implement pan-Armenian programs aimed at developing the Armenia-Diaspora partnership and raising the reputation of Armenia and the Armenian people through education and culture and support initiatives that are aimed at preserving Armenian identity.

Hakopyan emphasized the maintenance of the security of Armenia, recent advances in democratic reforms, thanked all Diaspora Armenians who are doing business in Armenia and described the textbooks that the ministry is sending to Armenian day schools in diaspora.

Hakopyan’s speech was translated simultaneously into English by Anna Ohanian Adourian.

On the last day of her visit, Hakopyan was interviewed by Yevgine Gharibian of Independent Radio of Boston, visited St. Stephen’s Armenian Church, the Hairenik Building and the National Association of Armenian Studies (NAASR) center in Belmont.