Zartonk Legacy Celebrated, Vartivarian Award Given Out


From left, Aram Sepejian, Zaven Messrlian, Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Hagop Vartivarian, Baydzig Kalaydjian and Prof. Hrair Hovivian

BEIRUT — Members of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) and the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA), along with friends of the ADL Beirut newspaper Zartonk, gathered on June 16 in the Kersam Aharonian Hall of the Tekeyan Center in Beirut to celebrate Zartonk’s legacy.

ADL member Baydzig Kalaydjian, the editor-in-chief of Zartonk, told the audience, which included member of the Lebanese Cabinet Jean Oghasapian, the TCA Founders’ Body, the ADL Regional Executive, First Secretary Vartan Atamian of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Lebanon, and Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, about the announcement on December 1, 1995 of the establishment of the Haigazoun and Anahid Vartivarian Zartonk Press Annual Prize. It was created by Hagop and Arpi Vartivarian in memory of the former’s parents. Kalaydjian pointed out that Zartonk was proud of the success of this award and owed much as a newspaper to the TCA Founders’ Body and its administration.

Hovig Eordekian won the award for 2010 thanks to his activities beginning in the 1980s in the Lebanese-Armenian and diasporan Armenian press. Young TCA intellectual Dr. Antranig Dakessian presented Eordekian’s work as a newspaper reporter, philologist, editor and public figure. He noted that in 1980 Eordekian began working as an assistant editor at Zartonk and from 1985 to 1987, he served as editor of the ADL’s organ in South America, the weekly Sardarabad, and years later participated in the work of Yerevan’s Azg daily newspaper.

ADL members Eordekian, Hagop Vartivarian and Hagop Kassardjian, chairman of the TCA Founders’ Body and former Lebanese parliamentary deputy, took to the stage next for the actual presentation of the award, which was followed by Eordekian’s comments. The latter said emotionally that memories of more than three decades were awakened within him. He said, “Our great ones again are walking about in front of my eyes. Not only did they build this building, but they provided leadership throughout the diaspora to people of the same ideology and the sympathetic masses. While still young, we became followers of their words, actions and national and political itinerary.”

Eordekian said that Zartonk served as a unique school for him, with Kersam Aharonian as a teacher. Prof. Parounag Tovmassian sent him to Armenia to learn Armenology 30 years ago. Several years afterwards, the lawyer Hracheay Setragian informed Eordekian that he had decided to send him to Argentina to edit Sardarabad. These three great men played decisive roles in Eordekian’s life. His schoolteachers from Aleppo’s Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Lazar Najarian-Caloust Gulbenkian School, Garabed Jouharian and Haig Barigian, had earlier played an important role in awakening his interest in Armenian literature and the press, while he also learned much from the AGBU and its Armenian Youth Association in Aleppo and Beirut, as well as from the ADL Mgrdich Portoukalian Chapter.

Eordekian pointed out that Vartivarian served as the sponsor of the publication of his Armenian-language books Hamarod badmutiun HRAG-i (A Concise History of the ADL), and RAG-i mamuli khmpakirnere (Editors of the ADL Press). Eordekian concluded with his profound thanks to Vartivarian, the award’s patron, the award committee, the TCA Founders’ Body, Zartonk’s editorial body, Lebanon’s ADL Regional Executive, and all those who organized the event that night.

Vartivarian took the stage to express his great respect and love for Zartonk, and officially expressed the congratulations of the TCA of the US and Canada for ADL member Hagop Kassardjian’s election as chairman of the TCA Founders’ Body, as well as to the other newly elected members. Vartivarian declared that Zartonk’s website allowed it to exert its influence outside of Lebanon, in the rest of the diaspora and in Armenia, and that he had personally witnessed how great numbers of clerical and political leaders followed its news. In addition to disseminating news about the ADL, it also reported on the activities of the AGBU and its Armenian Youth Association throughout the world. Vartivarian concluded that Zartonk, as the ADL’s sole daily newspaper, must be cherished, along with its editor, Kalaydjian, and its other staff members. Kalaydjian’s dedicated work keeps the newspaper at the highest quality.

Atamian spoke next, quoting Armenag Yegarian on the important role of the Armenian press in Armenian national demands. He wished continual success to Zartonk and to its award winners, greatly praising the newspaper’s patriotic and traditional direction.

Archbishop Nareg Alemezian concluded the evening with his appreciation of the sacrifices made for Zartonk in the past, and added his praise of Eordekian and Vartivarian, whose work he got to know in Yerevan and New Jersey. He also added the name of his own mother’s uncle, Setrag Gebenlian, who served the Armenian press in Dörtyol, Alexandretta, Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon. After a final prayer, a reception was offered to those present.

(Translated from Armenian, this article was previously published in Zartonk daily.)