The Montreal discussion covers an important topic of “Thinking Collectively” The initiative’s overall goal is to hear the opinions and gather feedback from Armenians worldwide, to gather Armenians in Armenia and vast Diaspora around essential topics, around a shared vision that will lead to actual and visible changes in Armenia in the long run.
The major challenge for all Armenians worldwide and in Armenia is the emigration – the outflow, the danger of people leaving the Armenian-ness. The only way to preserve the Armenian world and make it better is to connect the Armenian Diaspora with Armenia. How to connect a virtual network to the country and whether it is possible to carry it out, in reality, is the primary mission of The FUTURE ARMENIAN Initiative.
This discussion will be devoted to three of the 15 Goals: 1. Strategy/Vision, 2. Sovereignty, 3. Artsakh. David Tavadian, an expert in financial affairs with 15-years of experience, who lived and worked in Canada, the UK, Russia, and the UAE, explains essential contemplations on these three topics.
Summary: brought out by David Tavadian
- Major topics to be concentrated on for the discussion are:
- Strategy/vision – there is no written recipe for having a strategy and applying it in a democracy. The solution lies in discussing, asking questions and trying to find answers.
- Sovereignty – how much is too much or too little sovereignty? What does it mean for Armenians in Armenia and worldwide?
- Artsakh – there is no single referendum among Armenians about Artsakh. And it is critically important to raise questions and try to find answers to them with the help of field experts.
- Creating a learning environment in Armenia is vital. With 50,000 Armenian families relocating to Armenia, that environment will be the baseline. Close-mindedness is a result of the lack of quality education. By relocating people from countries with higher GDP, a higher level of education and mindset will encourage and create impetus for more profound learning societies.
- Some of the challenges relocated Armenians could face is, first, the language barrier – second and third national languages should be introduced to facilitate the relocation of Armenians who do not speak/write/read Armenian. The second is mandatory military service. Military-aged youth are unwilling to receive Armenian citizenship since they do not want to be conscripted to the Armenian Army.
- The Diaspora itself needs to become organized. One thing is to connect the Diaspora to Armenia, and another thing is to connect and organize the Diaspora itself. Only after becoming a unified force will the Diaspora have a say in the country’s political affairs. If all Armenians, regardless of their residency country, are given an Armenian passport and permission to vote, they will feel more willing and obliged to get involved.
- The topics discussed will turn into projects, NGOs, non-profits, businesses and others. People will become the assets that will enable them to achieve material results. A registry board, something like a time bank, will be created where quality specialists and experts of various fields will volunteer to help. Time is money and the time of qualified specialists is even more expensive.
- When the Armenian youth is leaving the country, it can become an asset to serve the country in the long run. When students go study abroad, they do not quit being Armenian. Most of them contribute with all they can to the country.
- Some of the industries under consideration to be affected through the initiative’s efforts are Health/Medical tourism, Education, Environment and more. Skilled and qualified specialists in these fields can volunteer to devote their time, and we can attract visitors from all around the world to Armenia. We just need dedication.
- It’s a chained reaction: you cannot address one sector without touching its core. For instance, the IT sector does not come on its own, it has its core in the education of math and physics, so there needs to be a complex approach to this.
- The Future Armenian initiative will succeed in its dialogue with the Armenian government in various political issues only with joined forces. The voice of the Diaspora will be heard only when it’s a unified demand. And the initiative has this potential.
- The relationship between Diaspora-State needs to be redesigned, rethought. What has worked until now cannot continue afterward – only financial contribution, since the Diaspora does not want to contribute if they are not going to have a say.
- Considering the deteriorating quality of diplomacy and international relations in Armenia, much effort should be spent on involving the Diaspora. The know-how should be transferred and used in Armenia. But again, this cannot happen single-handedly, and the solution lies in the unified approach.