Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

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[Opinions]: The Journal of Conflict Transformation.

July 17, 2010

From time to time we would like to offer some (and diverse) perspectives on important Armenian issues in this rubric and hope that you are going to find interesting insights. Of course you might not always agree with the authors’ view (we certainly do not). However, it is our hope that you will find the readings thought-provoking.

We at FAR believe that conversation is the only real path to understanding complex and intricate global issues, regional challenges, or just human nature.

The Journal of Conflict Transformation is an independent online publication that provides a forum for scholars, practitioners, policy analysts, starting researchers and bloggers to analyze as well as discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and issues related to it.

Edited by Phil Gamaghelyan, the publication (as the editing board proclaims) contributes to sustainable resolution of the conflict by expanding scholarship on the subject and encouraging diverse perspectives and analysis.

Meddling From Afar: Diasporas’ Role in Conflict Resolution

Diasporas provide the uprooted masses a home away from home and a sense of belonging. Along with preserving their heritage, culture, and identity, diasporas also play an important role in enriching their adoptive homes by contributing to the cultural, religious, linguistic, and ethnic diversity. Furthermore, many diasporic groups become politically active in an effort to influence policymaking not only in their adoptive homes, but to also bring about change in their countries of origin by contributing to democratization and promotion of human rights.

However, when it comes to conflict resolution, diasporic groups, wittingly or unwittingly, seem to do more harm than good. The United States – as a major player in international affairs and home to a political system that is highly conducive to lobbying activities – provides a good case for examining diasporas’ role in conflict resolution (or perpetuation) in their native homes. Such lobbying activities and power contests are apparent among the Armenian and Azerbaijani diasporas in the US. Large segments of both diasporas have adopted quite an intransigent stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, thus partly contributing to the setbacks in the peace process.

Please continue reading here.

Hat Tip: Ani Wandaryan via @GoldenTent on Twitter

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[Opinions]: Old Gyumri in New Drawings.

April 13, 2010

FAR Employee Levon Lachikyan’s Response to Tyler Guthrie’s WaPo article about Armenia.

The most striking impression from the world philosophical history that I have been haunted by is the Pythagorean cosmic vaults theory, according to which the moving by different trajectories planets produce exquisite melodies during their movement, filling the cosmos by heavenly music. Mankind, however, do not hear those sweet sounds as they are all born with “having them in the ears”.

I found myself in the similar situation. Being born in Gyumri, I “had its beauties in my eyes”. As I discovered those only decades later, when I was already residing in Yerevan and having visited numerous cities all over the globe: New York, Paris, Venice, Vienna and elsewhere.

St. Mary Church in Gyumri

Gyumri. St. Astvatsatsin

Credit: Levon Lachikyan

Lately I have visited my home city. Much to capital Yerevan astonishment, where old structures almost have not remained, here they are preserved in whole blocks. It is a real delight to wander around. After Yerevan spread all over pink here the view changes drastically, where in front of you, competing in beauty, there are old black structures framed with red tuff windows. The unutterable beauty can make one breathless. And that made me draw it. I took a pencil that gave a birth to the series “ Gyumri, My love”.

The earthquake of December of 1988 seems to go beyond the old Gyumri. “What was before it that stayed, what was after it that went”, like to repeat the residents. And really, the subterranean shocks were unable to destroy and ruin the firm buildings constructed by the Gyumri masters. Those, fortunately, endure as a testimonial of the city’s relic of the past as well as a credential of its people soul honesty. I intend to continue to hand over to paper my city’s yards and streets, images of plentiful corners and squares to show that Gyumri is a city to be proud of, a city that has not only the past but also a future.

School No. One in Gyumri

Gyumri. School No. 1.jpg

Credit: Levon Lachikyan

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[Opinions]: Gray Eyeglasses Show Gray Signs of Soul Disaster.

April 7, 2010

“Every thinking man — and by man I also mean woman —
MUST be occupied only by this interest: to develop a soul.”

G.I. Gurdjieff (as quoted in Solita Solano’s diaries)

Gyumri FAR Employee Marina Bazayeva’s Response to Tyler Guthrie’s WaPo article about Armenia.

It may sound absurd that a nation born in the III millennium B.C., the one that was the first to proclaim Christianity as its state religion, one that has a very rich language and alphabet dating back to 405 A.D., one that printed its first book in 1512, has no words to distinguish between flesh and body.

If one knows Armenia and sees its palette, however, they would understand what is meant by this. An Armenian has a soul irrespective of his body’s shape and color. An Armenian puts his soul into everything he produces and perceives: monasteries, babies. An Armenian is bred as a part of a culture and mentality that is transferred from one generation to the other. An Armenian constructs buildings as a piece of architecture. From multi-colored natural stones that do not need artificial paint, an Armenian restores the Mother Armenia monument and pays attention to it in his thoughts, as it is a symbol of durability and respect to one’s motherland. Unlike the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France, Armenians constructed and reconstructed Mother Armenia themselves to keep the torch of hope, lost after the earthquake, alive.

Gyumri in 2009

Square 1.JPG

Armenians are the ones that gave their lives to preserve their homeland. They did not escape to distant lands to save themselves. Armenians have deep and ancient roots as people, but lacked a state of their own from 1375 to 1918. They learned how to survive and flourish within multi-ethnic states, such as the Ottoman, Persian, Russian, and Soviet empires. Armenians managed to preserve Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, which was founded in 753 B.C. — 29 years before the foundation of Rome.

For an American like Mr. Guthrie it may be hard to comprehend how a person can ignore waste management or extinguish a cigarette into water because throughout his entire life he saw perfect roads, waste and litter designated containers, and everything in a normal shape that was taken for granted. He personally did not do anything for that. He was just born in a warm and comfortable maternity building, was taken to his comfortable house with running cold and hot water, then to a modern school, and later to a contemporary university, and an air-conditioned office.

Gyumri in 2009

Mother Gyumri.jpg

When he enters a “Bath and Body Works” or a “Body Shop” and cannot decide which shower gel to choose — with a strawberry or raspberry flavor — it may never occurs to him that someone like him, born in Gyumri who has the same body, has no bath to sponge himself with the lotions. It never occurs to him that an Armenian who has two university degrees and is a son of physicians, has to go outside to carry in a bucket of water, heat it on a wood stove, pour it on his body to bath, and dry his hair on the diesel heater. An Armenian is so occupied with solving routine problems that he forgets to extinguish his cigarette in the litter. Allow him to take his time, as only 20 years passed after the natural ordeal and independence, whereas 200 years of American prosperity make Americans to forget what a world with a shortage of bread or electricity means.

Gyumri in 2009

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The strength and durability allowed Armenians to produce brandy and beer that are not worse than Cognac or Heineken.

Let us not wear glasses when we visit other places and see the soul, the flesh and not just the body, which can be worn or outdated. It is better to have an old-fashioned coat than an ugly soul.

Links to Gyumri:

http://www.gyumri.am
http://www.gyumricity.am
http://www.armeniapedia.org
http://www.world66.com/europe/armenia/gyumri
http://www.gyumritown.com
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyumri