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Message from the President of the Zoryan Institute

K. M. Greg Sarkissian

On our 25th anniversary, it is with a great sense of excitement that we
launch this newsletter to provide you with information and commentary. Many
dramatic changes have profoundly affected the Armenian world since 1982.
Accordingly, in planning for the next 25 years, Zoryan must consider how to
employ its scholars and specialists to best address the challenges of our
fast moving world. I would like to share with you some major factors that
influence our thinking in this process.

Armenia and Karabagh

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the independence of Armenia and
Karabagh. This created new complexities within Armenia (nation-building,
unemployment, restructuring the economy, health care, education, etc.), in
relations with its neighbours (security, border issues and claimed
territories), and in relations with the Diaspora (its role, participation
and influence in nation-building).

Armenia will continue to be challenged by issues of long-term security,
prosperity and progress, in the absence of normal relations with Turkey, its
largest neighbour and biggest security threat. Azerbaijan is using its oil
revenues to purchase arms-spending $1 billion in 2007 alone-and could reopen
the war on Karabagh at any time. Uneasy relations with Georgia and the West's
issues with Iran, Armenia's largest trading partner, further complicate the
security and economic situation.

Genocide and the Relationship with Turkey

Turkey's AKP-led government has been seeking EU membership for economic
benefits, to promote its westward-looking identity, and to open up freedom
of religion, as Islam, the country's dominant religion, is restricted under
the current Kemalist constitution. To meet EU standards, Turkey had to
legislate many reforms and confront longstanding taboos. In the process, the
Armenian Genocide has also come to the fore as a taboo for Turkish society
to reckon with. For their part, European countries are using the Turkish
state's denial of the Armenian Genocide as a tool to block Turkey's
accession to the EU, complicating Turkey's already difficult relationship
with Armenia.

While today the reality of the Armenian Genocide has been widely accepted,
tragically, genocide has become a frequent phenomenon to resolve political
conflict (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Darfur, etc.). Consequently,
there is a new urgency for genocide studies to raise public awareness
crucial for prevention.


Globalization has made Armenia a part of this interdependent world, an
exhilarating, yet potentially dangerous situation, as it is not yet able to
integrate into the world economy. How can the Diaspora and Armenia jointly
convert this into an opportunity, utilizing the fact that 5/8 of Armenians
are dispersed worldwide?


Considering the above, how should we, as Armenians, be thinking about our
shared responsibilities, shared benefits, and shared values? Zoryan, as a
national resource, whose mission is to think critically about the
contemporary issues facing Armenians, must raise such questions, in order to
develop new perspectives and ideas, for both current and future challenges.

In this vein the security of Armenia is our most important shared
responsibility. We have to adopt a pragmatic approach to our problems. We
have to have an effective way of resolving our own differences, and those
with our neighbors in the region. This could only be achieved by
understanding our present and how we got here, in an objective, analytical
manner in order to develop a national agenda which reflects our shared
values. To this end, Zoryan, by bringing Diaspora, Armenia and
genocide-related issues to international academic forums, provides
understanding and generates goodwill towards Armenians. It also undertakes
research, analysis, publication, conferences and university programs to
inform and influence not only specialists and opinion-makers but also to
empower the next generation to face the future with confidence.

I urge you to get involved, be a Zoryan "Friend," and support our mission.
Thank you.


If you would like to see the Newsletter please provide me,
[email protected] with an email address at which you can
recieve attachments. It is a ten page, 1.5 mb, PDF.