Ara Abrahamian’s Interview to Azg

Ara Abrahamian’s Interview to Azg

14 Oct 04

– Mr. Abrahamian what can you say about the days of the Union of
Armenian’s of Russia and World Armenian Congress?

– The visits paid by the Union of Armenians of Russia and the World
Armenian Congress have become a tradition already. It is envisaged
that we will achieve our goals to bring great number of physicians,
scientists and businessmen that will be directly involved in
conferences, in delivering lectures and in participating in various
cultural and business arrangements. We will continue our line of
providing the Armenian schools with computers. We will bring over
a thousand PCs that will be distributed among the schools of our
republic according to our program.

This year, the International Economic Forum will become the most
important event of the UAR and WAC days. The forum is organized by
World Armenian Congress and pan-Russian Company on Foreign Economic
Cooperation. Implementing our programs, we have held a meeting of the
genocide experts to elaborate pan-Armenian position in this issue. We
created a group of the most authoritative experts in this issue, so
that they work at the given issue and represent the position they
have elaborated to NGOs and political parties, as well as to the
authorities of the Republic of Armenia.

Continuing to implement our programs, we try to establish serious
economic bases for the activities of the World Armenian Congress to
strengthen the economic relations between Armenia and Diaspora. To
achieve this aim, we invite various trustworthy businessmen of the
Armenian communities in the Diaspora and Armenian businessmen to
international business structures. On my initiative, Foreign Economic
Company is being created in Russia. Its aim is to establish trustworthy
relations between the Russian business and the leading business
structures of the world. We have already created Russian-Argentinean
and Russian-South Korean Companies for Economic Cooperation. In future
we will establish Russian-French, Russian-Italian and Russian-Brazilian
economic cooperation companies. We believe that with the time we
will manage to involve the leading countries of the world in our
business structure and establish more effective relations to implement
joint economic programs. We are supposed to establish a branch of
the given organization within the framework of CIS. I said about
this in my recent speech held in Tbilisi Economic Forum. We think
that the Armenian businessmen can also participate in that large
international business structure and use both the informational and
financial-economic opportunities of the given organization.

Besides, we want to represent two very important structures in
the forum that will contribute to economic development of our
historical motherland. The first will be the Investments’ Fund that
will finance a number of projects in Armenia, the second will be the
Center for Strategic Researches that will define the priorities for
the development of the Republic of Armenia and implement the vitally
important projects for the progress of our country. High ranked state
officials, RF ministers, authoritative businessmen of Russia and a
number of other countries will participate in the forum. We hope that
the forum will become an important event and will create beneficial
conditions for the further development of Armenia’s economy and
strengthening of the Armenian state.

– How is the World Armenian Congress developing? How close are the
Congress’ ties with national communities participating at WAC Assembly?

– We often encounter problems in organizing the work of such a
big establishment as the WAC, to tell the truth. The reason is
that different communities in different countries of the world have
different political, economic and other possibilities and each of them
demands personal approach and work. And consequently more organizing
capability is needed. Though we have dozens of staff workers within the
WAC, we still fell short. That’s why we think that a more wide-range
work may be done if a confident economic basis is created.

We keep in touch with the most developed communities of the world. We
note with pity that the European communities divided the European
Forum instead of uniting it. The Armenian Congress of Europe rose on
the Forumâ^À^Ùs ruins. This organization engaged in systematizing
European communities held its congress in Brussels lately. Our
representative of WAC was sent to Brussels to learn about their plans
and to strengthen our ties.

If we keep on dividing our organizations and establishments, we shall
not handle many things. We are certainly glad to know that the Europe’s
Armenians have their own office in Brussels and that they cooperate
with the European Parliament and European institutions. The forum is
doing the same. But all those establishments are weak if stand-alone.

We cooperate with the AGBU and America’s Armenian Congress. I think
the WAC will mark a breakthrough only when we have economic power
and when the membership in the WAC will be useful, necessary and
honorable for every community.

We try ourselves to create mechanisms that will make our projects
functional. Every Armenian community worldwide understands the need
to rally round one organization.

– What kind of relations do you have with the Republic of Armenia?

– Unfortunately our relations are not officially fixed up. I
personally have ties with the Foreign and Defense Ministries and
also the administration of the president. I meet President Kocharian
from time to time when he receives participants of our undertakings
in Yerevan. But there are no official relations as I said. And this
greatly hinders the activities of uniting the Armenians within the
framework of pan-Armenian Diaspora organizations. It’s obvious that the
Armenian state can play a great role in this issue. It should strive
for uniting all the Armenian communities and organizations. Though,
the political figures and statesmen have sometimes grounded or totally
ungrounded fears if some of the organizations becomes very strong and
influential, which means that the state should take it into account or
cooperate with it as an equal partner and not as a structure that can
dictate its own conditions to. It is not accidental that these fears
let neither Levon Ter-Petrosian nor the current authorities to create
a really functioning organization with officially fixed relations and
bilateral commitments from the held pan-Armenian forums and congresses.
Most likely, both the state and the NGOs should pass a definite path to
realize that officially fixed cooperation is greatly needed at present.

– Mr. Abrahamian, what kind of international relations can be observed
in Russia at present, particularly, after the recent events in
Beslan? We are concerned with the fact that RF President touched upon
Karabakh, as well as the other hotbeds of conflicts in the post-Soviet
territory in his speech. What is taking place in Russia generally,
and how can the current developments influence the Armenians in Russia?

– Certainly, the situation in Russia is really tense, as it is in any
multinational country. Moreover, if in the verge of that state there
exists armed and consistent conflict between the central authorities
and the rebels, especially if the conflict has religious and national
character, it is sure to have impact on the situation in common. On
one hand, the demonstrations of nationalistic and fascist elements
become more frequent. On the other hand, the fact that some of the
ethno-religious groups do not feel sufficiently protected may cause
tension. The mutual mistrust and suspicion is growing. This all exists.

I know that in Armenia RF President’s words about Karabakh,
Transdnestria and other conflicts said in connection with the events
in Beslan. But it seems to me that some of the Armenian political
figures misunderstood the context of the president’s words. It is
obvious that the president meant that the Soviet Union collapsed
through the national map. He meant only this, when saying that if
the authorities don’t take relevant measures to stop the extremist
demonstrations of religious and ethnic character, these conflicts
can spread in Tatarstan, Bashkiria and other regions of Russia and
exploit the Russian state that can have the same fate as the Soviet
Union had. Thus, I think that there was no negative shade in his
speech about Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia.

I think that though there is still tendency for the growth of the
tension between the nations, both the authorities and the mass media
try to be very cautious about this issue and to avert the danger of
a new fire. It is not accidental that RF President said that the
people who treat these serious issues with no responsibility may
involuntarily support the terrorists, while the authorit ies will
treat them in a relevant way. As for us, the Armenians, we condemned
the terrorism and morally and financially helped the victims of that
monstrous crime. Since the first day of its establishment, the Union
of the Armenians of Russia is engaged not only in organizing the
lives of the Armenians of Russia, in protecting of their interests
and in conducting cultural activities, but it established relations
with other ethnic and religious organizations, especially during the
recent years. Our Union tries to unite all the efforts of all the
national and religious organizations for creating a structure that
could be the partner of the Russian authorities. As very frequently
there occur problems sometimes with the Azerbaijanis, sometimes with
the Armenians, sometimes with the Chechens or with other nations. And
it is very important for the authorities to know that there is a
structure that protects these national groups on the behalf of the
publicity. These groups can be attacked, can become innocent victims
of the law enforcement bodies.

Already two years ago, we decided to organize Round Table with the
participation of national and religious organizations, and to make
some official structure for cooperating with the authorities, as the
national policy in Russia remains as if “hung in the air”.

That is why, after the House of Nations, the Ministry of National
Affairs were liquidated in Russia, and the existing problems not only
didn’t disappear but also doubled, we think that there should be a body
that will be able to submit the actual issues to the authorities of the
country and to concentrate the attention on their solution. Certainly,
it will be better to have such a structure at the President’s Office,
so that the representatives of various nations and religious groups
can be sure that their interest are represented on the highest level
and they have the opportunity to put the issues forward and punish
the law enforcement bodies, the local heads and solve the problems.

Unfortunately, the government’s reform, the presidential and
parliamentary elections didn’t let us complete our work. Recently,
after the events in Beslan, we again began the works of the round
table. I was elected the chairman of the board of establishers of
the round table and the Public House of Nationalities, taking into
account the authority we have in Moscow among the publicity, within
the administrative circles, at the Federative Assembly and at the
President’s Apparatus.

On September 30, we held round table on the role of the national and
religious organizations in the struggle against terrorism, national and
religious extremism. Over 100 national and religious organizations, as
well as authoritative structures and representatives of law enforcement
bodies participated in the round table. Taking into account the results
of the round table, it was decided to affirm the plenipotentiaries
of the board of establishers, its chairman (i.e. my) and to instruct
them about organization of an establishing congress in the first three
months of 2005, that is meant to organize the House of Public Nations.

We think that the House of Nations can become a part of the Public
House created at the initiative of RF President. He talked of this
structure in his speech after the events in Beslan. The Public House
is meant to control the activities of the executive power, the special
services and the law enforcement bodies. It is very important that the
House of Public Nations becomes a component part of the Public House,
that would control the national policy conducted by the authorities,
the relations between the nations and would become the partner
of the authorities in the solution of these important issues. We
very well realize that living in a multinational state, one should
build the happiness of one national group, just like one can’t build
the happiness of one social group or class. We, representatives of
different ethnic and religious groups, should work unanimously within
the framework of the House of Nations. In constructive cooperation
with the authorities we will spare no efforts to fight the monstrous
challenge of the 21-st century, i.e. the international terrorism,
as well as ethnic and religious intolerance.

– Mr. Abrahamian, we congratulate you with being awarded the Higher
Medal of the South Korea. Tell us, please, what achievements did you
receive this medal for and do you have any other foreign medals?

– Since 1999, I am the Co-Chairman of Russian-South Korean Business
Organization. I have established close ties with the political
and business circles of that country. Certainly, my activities
greatly contributed to strengthening business and economic relations
between our countries. In 2001-2004, thanks to my efforts, the goods
turnover between South Korea and Russia grew tenfold and amounted to
$5 billion. For this service the president of South Korea awarded me
with the medal in Kremlin during his recent visit to Moscow. This is
the second foreign medal that I get this year. Several months ago,
the authorities of Argentina awarded me with one of the higher medals
of their country. I don’t exclude that the number of foreign medals
can grow together with the establishment of the Foreign Economic
Organization that is meant to connect the Russian business structures
with other developed countries.

– On behalf of our newspaper, we wish you success in your work directed
not only to prosperity of Armenia but also to establishing effective
International Foreign Economic Organization.