Meeting with the Australian Armenian Community
Discussion date and time
June 24, 2021
The goal of the conference call with the Armenian-Australian community is to make the best use of the 50-60,000 member Armenian community in Australia. Most of them have serious achievements in various fields, and it is important to learn how to use this experience for the benefit of our nation.
The war in Artsakh urged us all to stand up and start acting. It’s a critical moment for all of us since this question is far beyond the future of Armenia itself; it is an issue for the whole nation. There is no single individual savior that would be able to bring us out of this difficult situation. Therefore we don’t have the luxury to single out individuals to praise or criticize. It’s time we all roll up our sleeves and get things done.
The initiative aims to gather experts and specialists across all fields in Armenia and Diaspora, bring them to a discussion table and use the outcomes from this collective thinking process.
On the other hand, the Future Armenian Initiative aims to gather as many people as possible around its Goals, hoping that this global community of signatories and their shared ideas would serve as a leverage point when talking to the government. The initiative also projects the repatriation of around 50,000 families to Armenia, which will significantly impact the overall infrastructure of Armenia. There will be several significant funds financed globally by Armenians and other stakeholders. These will be state-private ownership funds dedicated to preserving the Armenian cultural heritage, improving vital infrastructures in Armenia, Western Armenia, etc.
We need to be honest with ourselves and with what we are facing. We can no longer be the passive giver; it’s time we join forces since it’s about the Armenian nation as a whole. We are here to discuss, share opinions and find solutions together.
- The idea of a business or businessman is not well-understood and accepted in Armenia. Naturally enough, there is distrust towards the concept of business given the recent experience in mixing politics with a business based on corrupt mechanisms. In terms of a healthy business supportive environment in the country, we face two major challenges one societal and the other systemic: first, based on statistics the money incoming into the country as remittances or donations is spent on consumption rather than contribute to new investments or growth as a result the level of savings is very low in the country. Second, business productivity is very low in most of the economic sectors in the country Of course there is a difference between productivity in the IT and agriculture sectors. But still, it is an overall issue for the economy.
- If prior to 2020, the Armenian governments told us not to interfere with their affairs, it will not be possible any longer. No state can deal alone with the number of problems and challenges that need to be resolved. Therefore when we approach the government now, we will not simply advise, but build a new format of relations in which both parties are equal partners. This approach will hopefully lead to change in all areas and will require the introduction of new international standards.
- It is necessary to discuss the rights and obligations of the diaspora and its representatives. The person who will represent the Diaspora and its numerous forms and shapes needs to be a person who understands the mentality of all different types of people named under one word – Diaspora. This is one of the most important topics that need to be addressed – having a solid Diaspora with solid representation in Armenia.
- The real issue is not the difficulty connected to finding financial resources for projects. The issue is that there is no infrastructure for creating projects and executing them; there are some ambitious plans but no execution strategy. Therefore it’s not simply about money. So, it can no longer be like “the Diaspora provides the money”; we need to get involved in the implementation of projects.
- Armenia is not a meritocracy – people are not appointed based on their merits. If the government decides to move to meritocracy, this will leave many people jobless which is an issue that also needs a systemic solution.
- The execution in Armenia is on a deficient level. The dealbreaker here is the repatriation of around 50,000 families. With this, the know-how, the mentality, the new social standards will come. Real globally thinking masses should come and bring with them that new expertise.
- The voting system for the diaspora needs to change – you will not be able to get 50,000 families to come to live in Armenia without allowing them first to vote for their government. There are strategies to get the diaspora engaged and willing to come/invest in Armenia. One of them follows the Latvian model: businesses outside Armenia can come to Armenia and have a 4-5 year tax-free period as long as the benefit of the business creates jobs. Having an Armenian consulate in Australia will grant at least some passive political engagement for the Armenian community in Australia.
- An improvement to the 15 points is prioritizing those points which should be covered in the next 2-3 years. As such, the three most important points that need to be tackled first are: engagement (the indifference is killing everything, by getting rid of ignorance, we will get closer to creating a state mentality and statehood), repatriation of 50,000 families (without preconditions, families need to get up and come to Armenia during the next two years), recognition of what we have (the potential Armenians have inside and outside Armenia is unbelievable). As for security, yes, it is the number one issue among Armenians currently. But when we mention security, we should not solely consider the border or physical security; there are issues regarding existential security, food, and health security.
- Security is a short, medium, and long-term goal: without security, nothing will be valid. Apart from that, long-term and constantly happening goals should be changing the mentality from “I-my” to “we.” We should understand that whether it’s outside or inside Armenia, Armenia is the utmost goal.