‘We should get rid of the complex. Armenian Genocide centennial not the end’ – Hayk Demoyan

14:50 • 09.01.15

Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute and Secretary of the Coordinating Council for the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, believes that many people both in Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora are raising the following question: what is going to follow the centennial of the Armenian Genocide?

Turkey is waiting for “a wave to come and go.”

However, the events marking the centennial of the Armenian Genocide will be followed by other events, until the ultimate aim has been achieved.

Mr Demoyan, large-scale events are expected to mark the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Many people inquire about what is going to follow April 24.

Of course, we can observe such sentiments, but we have repeatedly noted that this year should not be viewed as the limit. I can tell you about events we are planning for 2016. Turks are actually expecting that as well. In his latest statement Etyen Mahçupyan (Senior Advisor to the Turkish Prime Minister) said that the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border and other issues will be discussed after situation has calmed down in 2015. That is, they are waiting a wave to come and go and they will take steps. We should get rid of the complex that something will take place in 2015. Our mood should not be that the centennial is the end. One more problem is that the Armenian Genocide is a common topic, but talks have to be followed by deeds, serious work needs to be done, which is expected to produce results. And we are now marking the centennial of the Armenian Genocide with only one museum, whereas we should have had at least five or six museums in big centers of the world. Such museums are not cultural centers. Rather, they are instruments for us to provide on-site educational information. But we are speaking of one-day marches, demonstrations and so on. As far as I know around US $1m is needed to organize a march, convention or lecture in New York. We need to specify what we are working for, what we are directing funds to and what the results are.

What do you mean by results? Is it a higher number of countries that recognize the Armenian Genocide and make Turkey admit the greatest evil against humanity?

The result is that school textbooks contain at least one line about the fact of the Armenian Genocide. No textbook does it now in America or Russia or Europe. I think it is a serious fault. It can be said to be a fault of the Armenian Diaspora structures as well, which are seeking international recognition, but have forgotten the most important. If an MP is expected to press a button for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but he is not informed of it, it is kind of mechanical voting. One more important factor is that when the Armenian Genocide is spoken of somewhere in an article or two, but if you have a Genocide Museum, which is a research institute, where you organize exhibitions and invite people, it is a serious bid. We failed to establish a museum in Washington, and we are speaking of other museums without having capital or human resources. We are now presenting only one museum, with numerous expectations about it.

Don’t you think that our Genocide recognition policies are not sufficiently targeted given that nobody ever learns any lesson from that. Genocides continue to be committed around the world, even in the same regions where the Armenians experienced that. Why don’t we make the Yezidis’ massacres, for instances, an occasion to remind the world that it stems from a disregard of the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of last century?

Armenia does initiate certain things in European organizations, and we managed to have a couple of resolutions passed, but in the general perspective – as we look upon it as a mere policy – it is fixed in the declaration of our Constitution that we will pursue the matter. And it is also fixed in our national security strategy, but you know, we are at times hesitatnt as to what we really want and what we seek in the diaspora. That’s the simplest question which poses the biggest hazard. So what do we ultimately want? It’s an end in itself. You know we are becoming a little like a sportsman who has to train not to let his muscles weaken, but what is our end goal after all? This is what I would like the Genocide centennial coordination committee to formulate. The committee is going to adopt a declaration in January, and I am hopeful that declaration will not remain on paper but rather become a plan of actions for the Republic of Armenia and the diaspora.

And what does a plan of actions mean? Does it imply a switchover from the recognition to a process of claiming rights?

You know, different wordings come into circulation all the time, and they are a little controversial. As we pass from one stage to another, [we see] the [previous] stage wasn’t good as we had committed errors. Well, why then weren’t we that smart before? Have we just arrived at the idea that that we had been heading in the wrong direction now that we are at the centenary’s threshold? All the measures of the kind are very important, but it is also important in what direction human and financial resources go. We haven’t simply specified the trends.

Have you yourself - as a coordinator of the council coordinating the Genocide centenary events and the director of the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute, -clarified what should be a priority for us to attain an outcome?

One doesn’t have to be the Museum’s director to attain an outcome; it is just necessary to be an Armenian. If you have an Armenian’s identity and know what you want, you have to first of all think of your home country. For me personally, the first problem is the internal one. Small though we are as a country, we must try to first of all solve our internal problems. If you are vulnerable on the internal front, you are tenfold and a hundredfold more so on the external one. For me, the question of all the questions begins from the internal front. If on the internal front we have phenomena not compatible with a strong state, it is already a problem for me.


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