A Political Party Approach Instead of a State One


By Hagop Avedikian

It has become very fashionable these days to speak about Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora tripartite unity. For many, especially during this pre-election period, this wonderful national-political unity formula has been turned into a tripod, on which it is both convenient and safe to sit—and for some, profitable. Even certain state structures, which have been tasked with putting into practice in a professional manner this idea of national unity, are exhibiting formal approaches which naturally are unable to attain any results.

The most reliable indicator to understanding the failure of pan-Armenian unity—or, as I would call it, fiasco—is always the financial outcome, in this case the result of zero. First of all, I am considering the eight-year existence of what is called the Pan-Armenian Bank. It is form without content, a bank without money. I could point out other examples in addition to the presence of this absurdity which has continually escaped the attention of financial experts, from the meaningless sum of ten to fifteen million dollars raised annually by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, to the guilty listlessness in the construction of the Artsakh-Armenia second chief highway. However, this article is not dedicated to the examination of these examples.

Instead, I would like to present my perspective on the incorrect, or, it is possible to say, dangerous strategy of the government of the Republic of Armenia concerning diaspora Armenians, which gradually is becoming more intense, particularly during this pre-election period.

Some years ago, in 2000, when Aram Zaveni Sargsyan became prime minister due to tragic circumstances, the general assembly of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) took place in Yerevan. It began with an official reception in the hall of the government headquarters. The prime minister, with his youthful enthusiasm, during his speech declared “We hand over the diaspora to the ARF.” This sentence, reproduced by memory, at the end of the reception had caught by surprise even my ARF friends. They approached me with a smile which asked for indulgence, and assured that their party had no connection whatsoever with this declaration. I believed, and still do believe, them.

Now, especially after February 2016, when the ARF became the coalition partner of the Republican Party, that declaration of the former prime minister has become a reality. Judging by all types of proceedings with the diaspora, the sole and final political ally in the diaspora of the regime in power of the Republic of Armenia remains the ARF, along with the Catholicate of Antilias associated with the latter. In other words, in fact, this domestic Armenian association has become dominant against the Armenians living in countries abroad, who compose two-thirds of the Armenian people, and in connection to whom it is necessary to carry out state policy and not a political party one. The remaining political and other structures have been and are being disregarded, with the exception, perhaps, of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. The Armenian Assembly of America, and the confederation which unites over 20 organizations in France, have been ignored. The most grievous is that the 1,716 year role of our oldest national cultural organization, the Armenian Church, and its center, the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, is being disregarded, giving way to the glory-seeking inclinations of the head of the regional see of the Great House of Cilicia. At the same time, nothing is initiated to suppress the centrifugal tendencies of the Armenian Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Constantinople as part of the work of reestablishing the unity of the Armenian Church.

Of course no one can object to the influence of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, our most organized political party in the diaspora. However, when by means of significant financial assistance, though it is true it is under the name of the Armenian Cause, monetary infusions are made solely to make that organization more powerful (let us recall, for example, the generous donation campaign, chiefly of the wealthy of Armenia, in Paris in December 2016 headed by the foreign minister of the Republic of Armenia), I do not know what the Armenian Cause gains, but diasporan Armenians as a whole certainly lose. Let us not forget that 90 percent of diasporan Armenians do not belong to any Armenian political party.

On top of all this, the Social Democrat Hnchagian Party and the Democratic Liberal Party, the other two traditional political parties of the diaspora, as they are called (during the last 95 years, the diaspora was unable to create a fourth, despite numerous attempts), not only have been disregarded, but are subject to internal divisions which are encouraged by the Armenian authorities or by various quarters of the regime in the homeland. A striking demonstration of this is the registration of a one-person “organization” called the Reformed Hnchagian, the existence of which in recent weeks masterfully was used to the detriment of the mother political party. Another remarkable example is the encouragement by the same governing circles of a structure which is illegal and contrary to the statutes, ignoring the influential structures and circles of the political party which traditionally had a powerful basis. This situation similarly was taking advantage of during the recent preelection weeks, most grievously pushing that centrifugal group of the party and the Aleppo Armenians living in Armenia who have been turned into a fifth column to treacherous acts.

The goal is to prohibit the aforementioned traditional Armenian political parties from in any manner and in any format entering the forthcoming parliament and gradually turning into an influential force, which also would exert constructive influence in the diaspora.

This is a sad truth. Armenia today is governed on the principles of a “bureau” government, just as it was 98 years ago.*

Finally, some official demographic data: in 2016, the difference in numbers between those leaving Armenia and those returning was 48,600, to the advantage of those leaving. The previous year, this figure was 6,000 less.

They are leaving, to be lost, not even becoming a diaspora.

  • Avedikian is referring to the government of the Republic of Armenia in 1918-20 being under the control of the executive body of the ARF.

(Translated from the Armenian originally published in Azg.)