1204) The Diaspora Must Be “Supportive And Sympathetic”

Interview with Mr. Haykaz Grigorian, Professor of New Jersey Medical University, psychiatrist, who participated in the Armenia-Diaspora Conference on 18-20 September 2006.

L.H. – Please describe your general impression about the conference. . .

H.G. – My impression is positive, because the conference was rather well organized and quite different from the previous one. The participants used to speak freely, though didn’t touch things as profoundly as they could. Still, some negative forecasts that it was going to be just another ordinary conference didn’t prove to be correct.

L.H. – What about the most negative impressions?

H.G. – One of Diaspora Armenians sounded an expression like this: “Diaspora is not a milk cow for you to milk”. This was a very unpleasant sentence for me, and there is only one thing I can answer: you must milk the cow and it will be healthier and give more milk. If you don't milk the cow, it will become sick. Let this me a joke, but as a psychiatrist I must prove that the pleasure is for the both sides – for the one who gives and serves (and these people are healthier psychologically and live longer), and for the one who receives, feeling to deserve this pleasure and is able to enjoy it.

The following negative thing that made me upset was that during the conference many Diaspora Armenians used to make their reports in English, and Armenian clinicians who were assisting a professional meeting organized in Tsaghkadzor, presented their speeches only in Russian. They aren't used to providing enough importance to their mother language.

L.H. – What is the essential difference from the previous conference?

H.G. – A concrete problem was raised – the rehabilitation of Armenian villages. I have been in a number of Armenian villages, and it’s certain that there is a severe difference between the living conditions of the city and the villages.

L.H. – How was this project accepted by Diaspora Armenians?

H.G. – You know, there is not a universal portrait of a Diaspora Armenian. There are American Armenians, French Armenians, Lebanese Armenian, which are quite different with their culture, their way of thinking, and consequently with their views around the same question. The “seal” of their countries is quite apparent on each Diaspora Armenian. Even Armenia is rather diverse in its position.

The Diaspora Armenians have created an image of an ideal Armenia and ideal Armenian for themselves, and sometimes they get disappointed after visiting Armenia. But I think questions must be observed without this emotionality.

L.H. – What is the demand or the request of Diaspora from Armenia?

H.G. – I think – care and warmth! This is my personal opinion, ut I think this is the only thing that Diaspora needs, and what is of a great lack today – the care. And there is some indifference instead.

And I must add that I never feel like a Diaspora Armenian when I am in Armenia. I am from the first generation of the genocide survivors, who live in the U.S. Originally I am from Vaspurakan, then we have moved to Persia, where I have grown up, and I guess it’s for the similarity of the language that I don’t feel myself an alien here. I just like, love speaking Armenian. I feel myself stronger when stepping on our ground, and these are not just emotional words. I am not a tourist in Armenia. My son had visited Armenia for a couple of weeks, but I doubt if he felt what I do.

L.H. – And what is the demand that Armenians must have from the Diaspora?

H.G. - That Diaspora were serving and sympathetic.

L.H. – How must these words materialize?

H.G. – Providing material and professional support.

L.H. - How would you formulize your three demands from the Armenian government?

H.G. – Armenian government must know certainly the coordinates of Diaspora structures, organizations, which can be helpful for Armenia. Diaspora isn’t just the few well-known wealthy people: there are a great number of small and large structures, which just need to be prompted what to do.

My second wish is that Armenian internal events became more transparent for the Diaspora. And the third one – that the immigration became easier for Diaspora Armenians. This isn’t a simple thing. No Diaspora Armenian would just leave his well-designed life, take his family and move to Armenia. And here we go back to my first wish. He must be prompted – what he can do in Armenia, he must be offered some conditions, and be sure that he will bring a great use to this country.

At the moment I’m returning back to USA with a certain project: I am going to discuss the prospect of founding hospitals in two Armenian villages with my friends-clinicians.

L.H. – Do you consider the question of dual-citizenship so important for the Armenia-Diaspora relations?

H.G. – I think the dual citizenship is not so necessary, because, to be honest, each of us will provide much more attention to the citizenship of the country where we live in. Why shall we reduce the value of the Armenian citizenship?

What for the right of voting, it’s not logical to vote for a person if we don’t live in this country. One must live in the country to know the activity and the personal value of the candidate.

L.H. – Coming back to the Conference: what part of the participants had come to do some work, and what part had come just to enjoy the autumn in Armenia?

H.G. – I think 80 per cent had come for practical reasons, and the other 20 per cent was just enjoying the Armenian autumn!

Copyright © www.newneighbors.am
Interview by Lusine Hovhannisyan


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