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Armenia-Diaspora Conference Report


Communication and Linkages Between Diaspora Institutions and
the Republic of Armenia

Prepared for the Armenia Diaspora Conference
Yerevan, September 22-23, 1999

Introduction

This Report is the result of the work of a Subcommittee that was convened in response to a request made by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia, HE Vartan Oskanian. The Subcommittee was invited to address `communication and linkages between diaspora institutions and the Republic of Armenia.' It was subsequently asked to define its mission broadly, so as to consider a range of issues, including the economic.

For several weeks, the Subcommittee discussed the nature of the relationship between the Republic and the Diaspora, reviewing what the communication problems of the relationship had been and how they might be improved. The Subcommittee produced over sixty pages of memos. From these, the Subcommittee Chair distilled several versions of a draft report. Prior to finalizing this report a draft was submitted to Mr. Oskanian for his review. Comments made were accordingly incorporated in this final draft. What follows is the final result of that process.

Members of the Subcommittee raised many issues and analyzed them from different perspectives; scholarly, intellectual and political perspectives differed widely in some cases. There was much debate and some strong disagreement. It was resolved that the Report should first articulate the shared assumptions of its authors about the Diaspora before offering concrete analyses and recommendations about major topics grouped under several headings.

The Nature of the Diaspora

  1. The `Diaspora' is a condition shared by nearly half of all Armenians. However, as a social formation or a polity, it is not yet a single entity.

  2. Nevertheless, the members of this Subcommittee, who are familiar with the communities of the Middle Eastern and western diasporas, find that in the context of this Report it makes sense to speak of those diasporas as though they make up a single entity, `the Diaspora.' Most of the leaders and many of the members of these diasporic communities conceive of themselves as being in one Diaspora, both vis a vis Armenia and in relation to each other. Migration from one to the other is frequent, travel between them very common. The frequent movement of people, capital, ideas, cultural artifacts and electronic information have created favorable conditions both for intra-diasporic and diaspora-homeland communication, thus decreasing isolation and increasing the possibility of sustaining diasporic identity and commitment.

  3. Furthermore, despite ideological and institutional conflict, many leaders of this Diaspora regard it as a portion of one Armenian nation, which they see as consisting of diverse yet interconnected units, and they welcome the phenomenon of the Republic of Armenia convening an Armenia-Diaspora Conference in 1999 (henceforth ADC99), because they hope that this will be a forum not just for airing differences but above all for seeking common ground and for establishing the foundations of transnational cooperation among Armenians from the Diaspora, CIS, Eastern Europe, Karabagh and the Republic of Armenia.

  4. However, the diversity of the Diaspora must not be underestimated. It consists of dozens of communities, each with its own culture and internal structure, scattered across five continents. Each has its organizations, some local, some national, and a few transnational, like the major political parties, the Churches, the AGBU, and some of the larger compatriotic unions. No single organization, whether local or transnational, can claim to represent all diaspora Armenians.

  5. This Subcommittee has little experience of the emerging diasporas of Armenians emigrating from Armenia. It seems likely that they, too, lack fully representative organizations. In the immediate future, officials from the Republic, working with homeland and Diaspora scholars and with community leaders wherever they may be found, must begin to study and organize systematically the emerging diasporas of the CIS, Eastern Europe and those parts of the US where there is a large community of Armenians from Armenia.

  6. It is essential that future discussion focus on new and newly conceptualized relations between the Homeland and the Diaspora. This does not mean that older organizations no longer have a role to play. It does mean that they need to engage in open-ended and continuing dialogue with other organizations, with the Republic, and with experts and active community members who do not yet formally belong to organizations.
  7. Representation

  8. The question of representation is a question of communication: who will speak in whose name, to whom, and on what grounds? This Subcommittee can speak about the Diaspora, but not for it. Even our largest and best organized transnational organizations can at best claim to represent only 20 - 40% of a given community.

  9. Precisely because this is the case, the government of Armenia is to be commended for having invited a large number of participants to the ADC99. Though this runs the risk of creating a disorderly atmosphere, it helps to avoid repetition of regrettable past events in which previous governments of Armenia did not deal even-handedly with all relevant segments of the Diaspora.

  10. ADC99 should be the first of a series of smaller ADCs organized according to more clearly spelled out principles of representation and delegate selection. It is therefore recommended that ADC99 create a Standing Committee on Community Representation (henceforth SCCR, cf. the Standing Committee on Economic Development, par. 21), made up of an equal number of diasporic and homeland members, or even a majority of the former, and charged with making recommendations on questions of representation to the Steering Committee of the next ADC. The SCCR will also be the appropriate venue for discussing existing exemplars of effective cooperation between various diasporic groups (e.g. the April 24 committee in France) as models of representation. It should also initiate planning that at some point in the future may enable it to legitimately claim that it is the global forum for debating issues of relevance to the Armenian nation..

  11. The SCCR should recommend protocols that will insure the effective participation of diaspora Armenians in our transnational life. To do so, it should be endowed with a staff and budget that enables it to consult with the Diaspora, but also with scholars and government officials in countries that are innovating new forms of diasporan involvement in transnational political representation, ranging from facilitated dual citizenship to special representatives in the homeland's Parliament. The actions of Israel, Poland, South Africa, Haiti, Portugal, India, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia are among those that merit further study.

  12. A series of continuing, properly planned, funded and inclusive small conferences between the SCCR and various groups in the Diaspora and the Republic will be an essential precondition for developing understanding, communication and cooperation. There will be complex questions of funding and administration for such conferences. These must be addressed; while such funding is not easily available, it must be considered an initial investment in the future of Armenia and the Armenian nation.
  13. Models of Relationship between Homeland and Diaspora

  14. Center-periphery models for relations between the government of the Homeland and the Diaspora should be avoided. When the eventual objective is the best communication, consultation and cooperation between Homeland and Diaspora, neither can be defined by a handful of leaders or centers, be they in Yerevan or in major Diaspora organizations. It is recommended that all concerned conceptualize and work for the emergence of a multilateral system of relationships between the Homeland society and the Diaspora, in which Homeland and Diaspora are considered part of an open, pluralistic network that invites participation without prohibitive costs or entrance requirements, subject to certain protocols which, if not followed, will result in expulsion from the network.

  15. The Subcommittee urges ADC99 to recognize that the best communication will happen if contacts are not conducted through a single government office, but rather between many diaspora individuals and organizations and homeland elements. The civil society emerging in the Homeland must be in touch, in as many ways as possible, with the various organizations and individuals of the Diaspora's many social formations

  16. This model may raise in the minds of many Armenians the question of `equality.' Some, usually in Armenia, might dismiss the concept of equality between the two with contempt, while others, usually in the Diaspora, insist on it with naivete. But the question of `equality' is misleading. It is pointless to speak of the equality of two incommensurate entities. The Homeland and the Diaspora should learn to act either as equal partners or as senior-junior partners, depending on the proportion of capital and human assets each brings to a specific project. A project-oriented, partnership-based approach should define at least the initial stages of Homeland-Diaspora cooperation.

  17. The government of Armenia may initially find it difficult to deal with the Diaspora as a partner, but the experience of the past decade has shown that unless both entities learn to work as partners on the issues and projects that concern both, no long-lasting success is possible. The coordination of assistance, development or investment projects does not require an abstract declaration of equality, but rather proper consideration of the interests of both entities, viewed as partners in Armenia's development. Partnership and participation require frank communication in a democratic atmosphere. Western-style economic development will not flourish in any other environment. The trust that has been eroded in both the diaspora and the homeland can and must be rebuilt on this more realistic basis.

  18. Such rebuilding will be facilitated by the recognition of what democracy has taught. Communication, persuasion, consultation and cooperation, rather than dictation or na´ve concepts of equality, are indispensable. Governments around the world are learning that within emerging democracies, they cannot dictate to their own citizens. This is all the more reason for the government of Armenia to realize that it will be unable to dictate successfully to diasporans who are not even its own citizens. Equally, it is important for diasporans to learn that dictating to the homeland is unthinkable. They will also be obligated to acknowledge that most Diaspora organizations are not fully democratic, just as many aspects of life in the Homeland are not. Both parties must practice the virtues of democratic partnership, between government and people, diaspora and homeland.

  19. An auspicious step towards such practice has been taken by the government of Armenia which, by organizing this Conference, recognizes the importance of the Diaspora. In turn, the Diaspora must acknowledge that being taken seriously brings with it new and costly responsibilities.

  20. It is not recommended that the Conference create a standing committee to pursue the ideals of democratic partnership. Rather, the Declaration of Principles which should emerge from this conference (see par.36) should specify a commitment to the values, structures and the operational and protocols of democratic partnership.
  21. Modalities of Cooperation

  22. The different modalities of cooperation - be they in economic, political and cultural relations - must not be viewed as existing in a strict hierarchy, such that development of one depends entirely on prior development of the other. Any notion that the political, or the economic, or the cultural, is `central' and must have strict priority, while the other concerns are peripheral and derivative, merely reintroduces an impractical center-periphery ideology that should be rejected, however appealing the short-term economic possibilities of such an option may seem. There should be continuing and simultaneous work on all relevant issues. Within that framework, many issues which now seem insurmountably difficult could become easier to resolve in the near future.
  23. Economic Cooperation and Development

  24. Given Armenia's economic needs, it is understandable that the government of Armenia might wish to use this occasion as a platform for commissioning a body that deals with the economic assistance that the Diaspora is capable of providing. This assistance can be in four forms: remittances sent by conationals to their relatives; charitable donations; aid earmarked for the development of infra-structure, as seen in the past in the construction of the Goris-Stepanakert road; and investment in the economy, whether guided by the choices of individual investors or coordinated through a Diaspora-Armenia development council.

  25. Remittances and charitable donations by individuals, relatives and organizations are difficult to direct over the long-term through governmental action. Government tax policy and its treatment of remittances as taxable income may become an issue in the future. After the initial stage of donor fatigue, which set in during the late1990s, the best results will be obtained if dependable information and access are freely available to those diasporans who choose to engage in such work.

  26. Current assumptions about infra-structural aid may lead to premature dismissal of its continuing value, in favor of investment (the fourth option). Notwithstanding recent shortcomings in the administration of groups such as the Armenia Fund, properly scaled and targeted infra-structural assistance will remain an important form of diasporan assistance to Armenia. The mechanisms of receiver-selection and donor-cooperation may require revision, but the basic approach continues to offer attractive opportunities for useful activity to individual donors and to groups with limited resources, who may be variously mobilized (e.g. through telethons, community to community projects and the like).

  27. An approach that exclusively or primarily prefers development through large-scale business investment has shortcomings. It appeals to a relatively small group of the largest and most risk-inclined individual investors. This creates two problems: under the current economic, political and managerial realities of Armenia, it will not be sufficiently attractive and confidence-inspiring; and it will neglect the importance of developing the involvement of individual diasporans at all levels of economic capacity and potential, merely because it does not come in the form of `business investment.' (A historical parallel with Israel may be of some relevance. Contrary to popular assumptions, the majority of American Jewish aid to Israel until the early 1980s was committed to infra-structure: to building public housing, hospitals and schools for the tide of Jewish refugees that came from eastern Europe after the Holocaust, from the Arab world in the Fifties, and from the USSR starting in the 1970s. This both lightened the burden of the emergent state and allowed Jewish individuals and communities to identify their donations with concrete, visible and obviously needed projects that could be named after donors).

  28. Increased investment by diaspora businessmen in job-creating enterprises will be essential for Armenia's sociopolitical stability and techno-economic development. However, economic data and ideas about the best paths to capital accumulation and economic development is abundant and conflicting. It would be inappropriate for this Subcommittee to make specific recommendations on this issue, except to say that the historical examples indisputably indicate one thing - no single approach works everywhere. Pure western capitalism has not proved to be a consistently effective approach. Hong Kong prospered under it, whereas a Chinese social formation with the same cultural ethos, in Singapore, prospered through government-guided investment. (A very different, politically restrictive and governmentally guided form of nationalist economic development is also possible. It guarantees greater social stability but takes more time: its most familiar examples are those of Kemalist Turkey, 1923-1980, and Francoist Spain, 1939-1975. This approach leads to a stronger national government, but involves heavy state controls and so might diminish the flow of international aid and investment of the sort that is available now and wasn't earlier).

  29. Diaspora investment must be regarded as a category of foreign investment. Realism demands that the government acknowledge that investment capital has no national loyalties, even in the hands of Armenian-born investors. The government must not expect western-style development while retaining Soviet era beliefs that the government of an impoverished country can both ask for investment and dictate where and how those investments must be made. It must be prepared to relinquish most of its control in many areas of investment (but not necessarily all, cf. Singapore above).

  30. The government must also commit itself to a wholesale revision of its legal, financial and tax regulations, and to judicial adjudication and administration of contract disputes. It should do this while soliciting the advice and active involvement of diasporan investors, rather than leaning exclusively on WB/IMF models and economists, whose usefulness in some countries is indisputable but whose overall success rate is variable. In the end, the wholesale revision of state regulations of foreign investment is a huge task which cannot be effectively completed in the short term; during the lag-time, the other three forms of diasporic assistance will retain major importance. Of course, the nature of the relationship between the Diaspora and the Republic will depend in part on the form of the Diaspora's financial contribution. For example, charitable donations and aid for infrastructure each entail different kinds of interaction, expectations and results. Both the Republic and Diaspora organizations must remain aware that the type of aid as well as the sums involved will shape relations.

  31. It is recommended that the Armenia-Diaspora Conference create a Standing Committee on Economic Development (SCED) in which the number of diasporan members must at least equal and perhaps exceed homeland representation. It should be chaired by a diasporan. This group should be commissioned to do two things simultaneously: to solicit diasporan investment; but also to consult with economists and governments in order to see how other emerging economies have attracted investment from co-nationals in diaspora, and at what cost. Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India offer excellent examples. India's handling of NRI, or non-resident investment, has been productive and controversial, and merits close study. The SCED should discuss and coordinate its procedures with the SCCR.

  32. A series of continuing, properly planned, funded and inclusive small conferences between this Standing Committee , independent diaspora businessmen and businesswomen, corporate exceutives, policymakers and economists will be an essential precondition for developing communication and cooperation between the homeland and the Diaspora. Questions of funding and administration for such conferences are complex and will need to be addressed; while such funding is not easily available, it must be considered an indispensable initial investment in the future of Armenia and the Armenian nation.
  33. Establishing Protocols

  34. The work of sustaining the conferences of the Standing Committees and preparing a second ADC will also provide occasions for bringing together the leadership of the Homeland and the major organizations of the Diaspora, in ways that will create not `unity' - a word we all wish to avoid - but better cooperation between them. Even though `unity' will not emerge, it is realistic to anticipate an increase in productive cooperation. At the very least, working together on future ADCs will diminish mutual suspicion between the leaders of diaspora organizations, and will help create a transnational leadership that knows each other - which is not the case now. This, in turn, may decrease utterly counterproductive intra-diasporic conflicts in favor of a balance between healthy competition and cooperation. It may also eventually foster trust.

  35. For this to happen, it will be necessary to develop clear protocols on how both the Diaspora and the Homeland are informed about projects. The nature and quantity of the contribution that each participant makes and, crucially, the ways in which credit may be claimed for such contributions in the Diaspora must be specified. This means that protocols of truthful communication must guide how each contributing diasporan group can address its constituency about the size and impact of its contribution to Armenia. The protocol must apply to all organizations, large and small, and to all modalities of activity, but especially the economic. It is difficult for a small group - the Diasporic Union of Ayndeghatzis, say - to contribute what it can, say 10% to the construction costs of a needed factory, if it has legitimate anxieties that its contribution will not be mentioned when the whole Diaspora and especially its own constituency is flooded with reports spread by a few large organizations that contributed the other 90% and that control newspapers, radio or TV stations in major diaspora communities. Individuals and small diaspora organizations do not have equal access to diasporic modes of communication and information - not even in the era of the Internet. And no diaspora organization will commit funds unless a protocol for sharing credit fairly and reaching all constituencies is created and enforced. If one Diaspora organization misrepresents the facts, it must know that all other organizations and, crucially, the government of Armenia, will set the record straight. One way to guarantee this is to issue frequent audited project reports.
  36. Open and Free Communication

  37. The government of Armenia will need to consider the fact that its control of communication to its own citizens cannot be allowed to stand completely unchanged at the expense of the work of Diaspora organizations. The same rules of open and full reporting concerning all contributions must prevail on government-controlled news channels.

    Dual citizenship and the varieties of political participation:

  38. The appropriate nature and degree of involvement of diaspora and homeland in each other's political life has been an insistent issue wherever open communication and cooperation between the two have become possible. Until recently, homeland governments have generally preferred to maximize economic contributions (as remittances, infra-structural investment or business investment) and to minimize political, social, religious and cultural involvement (for example, until the late Sixties secular Zionist Israeli leaders tried to restrict the political activities of certain Brooklyn Jewish religious sects as deeply problematic; these responded by relabeling their contributions as `religious education'). In the past two decades, however, a recognition has emerged that seeks to balance and optimize all these forms of involvement.The increasing (and not always formally legislated) tolerance of dual citizenship has been one such governmental approach to the problem.

  39. It is not clear to what extent dual citizenship might increase Diaspora communication with and participation in the Homeland's life, in both politics and economics. Comparison with other diasporas demonstrates a very wide range, about which more detailed reports may eventually be elicited by the SCCR. Israel, despite its famously powerful diaspora, has not been politically permissive, requiring a five-year residence and male military service before extending dual citizenship to its diaspora brethren. Emigrating Israeli citizens who form the Israeli diaspora can vote more easily via absentee ballots, as long as they maintain a notional residence in Israel, periodically renewing their registration in a former domicile's prefecture, at some small cost. Poland and South Africa have made voting for emigrants much easier, requiring registration only at embassies or consulates at a small cost, followed by absentee balloting. The most actively changing policies are in poorer countries that receive large remittances from their diasporas, such as Portugal, the Dominican republic, Colombia and Haiti - Haiti, a country of nine provinces or `Departements' in French, has declared its Diaspora its `Dixieme Departement' and is working on promulgating laws to ensure political representation in Parliament and better remittances and investment. The Dominican Republic is going even further, discussing legislation that will reserve a certain number of seats in its Parliament for the "special representatives"of its US diaspora.

  40. Any recommendation on the dual citizenship issue is premature, but it may be appropriate, if ADC99 chooses, to initiate discussion of these issues, with no preconceptions and preconditions. Economic and political participation from the Diaspora cannot be wholly separated, but neither is one wholly contingent on the other. Diasporans must recognize that citizenship is never a free gift - it has costs, be it the draft or paying to maintain registration. Above all, diasporans must be reminded that only those living in the homeland are affected by the economic and political misfortunes of the homeland - therefore, those not subject to those effects must make a fixed contribution of some sort if they wish to have a word in the management of the homeland. Diaspora Armenians are accustomed to the idea that in order to vote in parish, political party or AGBU and ARS elections they must pay membership dues, so the idea of paying some sort of dues in lieu of taxes will not seem alien to them. But the homeland government is also well-advised to remember that raising the threshold of the costs of political participation beyond a certain limit runs the risk of alienating those whose participation is ultimately voluntary, and of communicating the notion that the Diaspora is fundamentally Other or Odar. Once again, the old Nation-State model in which the State is the Center and all others the margins must be qualified by a view in which various degrees of participation at various cost-scales are considered.

  41. This Subcommittee recognizes that some participants of ADC99 will insist that `we are all one nation' because we all claim some form of Armenian identity, while others will insist on cultural differences and different interests. It recognizes that in much of the Diaspora, the claiming of Armenian identity is largely a voluntary act, and for that reason the homeland's treatment of the Diaspora must be delicate and diplomatic. In addition, there is no easy commonality of interests between the Diaspora and the Homeland, just as there is no easy commonality of interests among diaspora organizations. But this may change thanks to the communication, consultation and eventual cooperation that we hope will be launched by ADC99.
  42. The Minimum that can legitimately be expected from ADC99

  43. No member of this Subcommittee and no rational diasporan expects much decisive action from what we hope will be the first of many ADCs. But certain expectations are reasonable. Without offering an extensive theoretical rationale, it is possible to assert that bodies like the ADC, when perceived to be roughly representative and acting in good faith, gain some of the legitimacy that democratically elected representative bodies have. Political science speaks of the `surplus of legitimacy' that is produced when such bodies are regarded as roughly representative and striving to be more so. It is recommended that one priority of ADC99 be to produce such `surplus legitimacy' which, like its model, surplus capital, can be invested to benefit both the government of Armenia and other participants, now and in future ADCs, incrementally leading to a transnational Armenian polity.

  44. To accomplish this aim, this Subcommittee recommends that ADC99 produce a Declaration of Principles. The contents of such a Declaration can only be specified by ADC99. It might choose to name indispensable principles on which there is consensus, committing all participants to the principle of equal and respectful relations between homeland and diaspora individuals and organizations (`equal' in the sense mentioned earlier), regardless of political and organizational commitments, religion, gender and country of origin. It might acknowledge the aim not of `unity' and `sameness' but of increasing communication, consultation and cooperation in order to strengthen the Homeland, now in its hour of need, and to serve all sections of the Diaspora which may later require the aid of the homeland's government and of other, more fortunate portions of the Diaspora.

  45. This Subcommittee also recommends that the Conference consider promulgating a Declaration of Objectives, and that a few committees be immediately created - with balanced participation from the Homeland and the Diaspora - to set time horizons and measures for seeing those objectives realized by future conferences, and to begin work.

  46. As a specific example of feasible Objectives, the Subcommittee recommends the formation of a Project Committee to plan a single-platform Armenian keyboard, which will be a major contribution to communication between Homeland and Diaspora. It should be designed by a balanced committee that consults computer experts not just in Armenia or anglophone communities but also in large, non-english speaking communities in which some word-processing programs not in the Latin alphabet are already in use. This pan-Armenian cross-platform will facilitate e-mail communication, will simplify the design of Web-sites in Armenian that can be read with a single software from any corner of the globe, and will increase Armenian-language communication not only between Armenia and the Diaspora but among diasporan communities.

  47. A second Project Committee should be formed by representatives of important Armenian libraries and depositories of archival material (ranging from the Matenadaran to the Vienna Mekhitarists and the Jerusalem Patriarchate to the Library of Congress) to coordinate efforts and expertise with the purpose of designing a single system of automated on-line cataloguing of books, periodicals, and other texts, and to facilitate future research.

  48. A third Project Committee should draw equally on Homeland and Diaspora experts to plan web sites that can function as Registries for a variety of Armenian organizations and activities. Inclusive web Registries encourage the rise of new diaspora-homeland organizations around such varied activities as mountain-climbing or hiking or computer games, and can be particularly useful in bringing together young people who are otherwise difficult to interest in Armenian life. Many such registries can be maintained in Armenia and draw on the considerable Armenian expertise in computing. Individuals such as Hratch Bayatian, who works for the government, and Tigran Nazarian, who now works for the UNDP, have already demonstrated the capacity to innovate imaginatively in these areas.

  49. A fourth Project Committee might consider the largely positive impact that satellite broadcasts of Armenian TV have had so far on certain communities of the Middle East and Europe, and should make recommendations about regularizing these and perhaps creating a transnational corporation with joint diasporan and government ownership, and with broadcast protocols that prevent the domination of any single viewpoint. Evidence from the Greek, Indian and Korean diasporas suggests that satellite broadcasts have considerable outreach among the American and especially the scattered Canadian diasporas of these groups. Reverse broadcasts, reflecting attitudes and morals of diaspora co-nationals, have been welcomed by some homelands but have offended conservative others (in India). In conjunction with this, ADC99 might consider commissioning a separate, third Standing Committee on Communications Issues (SCCI) that would explore the above-named projects and, in addition, initiate work on the creation of a Communications and Media Department at Yerevan State University, or a separate Institute for training media specialists. Such an institute should be at least partly staffed by diaspora specialists in TV, video and other technologies. As an example, ADC99 might consider the Boards of several institutes within Tel Aviv University, such as the Porter Institute, in which there is heavy diaspora representation (potential donors, technical specialists).

  50. Finally, the ADC might consider the creation of a fifth Project Committee, headed by a homeland resident, to design a system by which individuals and organizations in the Diaspora can learn about the publication, costs and ways of obtaining either scholarly or popular new books, periodicals, audiotapes, CD-ROMs, videos and films from the homeland. No such system exists since the abolition in the early 1990s of the Committee on Cultural Relations with Armenians Abroad. Homeland Armenians may also be interested in ways of finding out about analogous diaspora products.

  51. Clearly, there are differences of scale, costs and time-horizons between, say, the SCED and the Project Committees named above. The Subcommittee wishes to reiterate that work in one need not be subordinated to work in the other. Different constituencies exist and can be called upon to realize different and simultaneous projects.

  52. The Subcommittee concludes by naming an issue on which it has no recommendations to make, but which it discussed inconclusively. This needs to be reported because the ADC may well wish to consider it further. It involves the role of the embassies of the Republic of Armenia, whose uneven performance raises the question of whether they can reliably serve as important nodes in regional communication, as proper intermediaries between the Homeland and the Diaspora.

Conclusion

Of course, it is up to the Foreign Minister and the Steering Committee to which this Subcommittee reports to decide which of these issues should be taken up most urgently by ADC99. This Subcommittee considers indispensable the Declaration of Principles, because, if properly formulated, it will have great impact on Diaspora mobilization at no financial cost. It also considers indispensable the setting up of at least some committees (such as SCCR) and the adoption of at least one pan-Armenian project objective (such as the Armenian keyboard). These will create momentum and will increase the political legitimacy of ADC99 as it launches a long-term and open-ended process of communication, consultation and co-operation between the Republic and the Diaspora.


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