Main Page       Contact  

Daily Bulletin Subscription

To receive our Daily Bulletin please fill out the form below.



02 April 2007 - Forum Turkish-American Newspaper
Other Articles

!á~°à="justify">The term “diaspora” which originally means “seeds scattered around” in the old Greek is, with its simplest description, a term used for describing the elements of a nation who are living outside the motherland of this nation. While this term was initially used in the old Greek to express the communities which came to a city from outside in order to assimilate those living in that city, later, especially following the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, it was used to describe the Jewish communities living outside the region which the Jews described as “Sacred Lands”.

q s to mind the Jews, Greeks and Armenians. The reason for this is that these communities cannot easily be integrated into the country where they are present and they usually maintain their own cultural consciousness carefully. In our country, the term diaspora first brings to mind the Armenian diaspora.

Actually, the Armenians constitute one of the most impressive examples for the term “diaspora”. While the population of Armenia is less than three million today, there are approximately five million Armenians living out of Armenia. These Armenians had migrated into various countries, particularly America and France, mainly during the last stages of the Ottoman Empire. Russia, too, had placed many Armenians into various cities of Russia throughout history as a result of different policies. Therefore, today small or big Armenian communities are living in America, France, Iran, Lebanon, Australia and certain South American countries. Diaspora Armenians have largely preserved their culture, religion and language; however, they have not isolated themselves from the community which they lived in and instead they have acquired, first, a big economic power and then a political power. For example, although the approval of the first draft law, which recognizes the allegations of Armenian “genocide”, in 1965 in Uruguay seems surprising at first, it is actually quite natural for the Uruguay Parliament, which has almost no idea about the issue of Turkey and Armenians, to accept this draft law as a result of the economic and political power which the Armenians, who migrated into this country in the late 19th century, gained in time.

As for the relations between the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia; it is impossible to suggest that these relations are not problematic. As a matter of fact, majority of the Armenians living in Armenia criticize the Diaspora, expressing that the Diaspora does not spend its wealth and economic power for the development of Armenia. The frequent intervention of the Diaspora in the internal affairs of Armenia is another subject of criticism. Moreover, some of the Armenians claim that the relations between Turkey and Armenia were strained because of the Diaspora and that the issue related with the opening of the border which could contribute significantly to the development of Armenia cannot be solved due to the aggressive policies of the Diaspora.

The above-mentioned problematic relationship between Armenia and the Diaspora has gained a different dimension with the “Law on Double Citizenship”, which was recently accepted by the Armenian Parliament and entered into force following the approval of President Kocharian. In fact, this draft law is not a new one. Almost immediately after the independence of Armenia, the debate on double citizenship had started; however, it was only last year when this issue was submitted to the agenda of the Armenian Parliament as a draft law.

When the text of the draft law is examined, it is understood that Armenian citizenship can be granted to those who are of Armenian origin and who have lived in the country for three years, and therefore the Armenians of Armenian origin living abroad can enjoy the right to vote. According to the law which David Harutuyan, Armenian Minister of Justice, announced to the public, people who are 18 years old, can express themselves in the Armenian language, know the Armenian Constitution, married to an Armenian citizen or serving Armenia in many significant fields may be granted citizenship. In other words, the expression of the fact that not all the members of the Armenian Diaspora but especially those who are not alienated from the Armenian culture, know the Armenian language and are able to express themselves in this language will be granted citizenship is deemed significant since it indicates the selective attitude of the Armenian Government.

However, the law on double citizenship almost divided Armenia into two. Those who support the draft law are President Kocharian and also the coalition partners in power comprising of the Republican Party and the Tashnak Party. As it is known, majority of the Armenian diaspora consist of those favoring the Tashnaks. In 1994, the Ter Petrosyan leadership closed the Tashnak Party for its illegal opposition and added a clause to the Armenian constitution, which was declared in 1995, preventing double citizenship. However, in 1998, after Kocharian took office as President, the Tashnak Party was reopened and the issue of double citizenship was started to be discussed. The fundamental reason for the Tashnak Party to support this draft is quite clear. The votes to be given by the people who will come from Diaspora and settle in Armenia will enable the Tashnaks to play a more influential role in the Armenian politics, and the extreme nationalist ideas of the Diaspora will be established more easily in Armenia.

On the other hand, the opposition parties such as the Justice Party and the United Worker’s Party which are against the law advocate the view that this law can disturb the relations of Armenia with its neighbors and the fate of the country would be left to those living abroad since the number of the Diaspora Armenians is higher than the number of the Armenians living in Armenia. Furthermore, Justice Party leader Artur Bagdasaryan has written an article in the American Wall Street Journal in which he expressed that Armenia had to normalize its relations with its neighbors and stated that Armenia had largely remained captive in the past and “being stuck in sad memories” had prevented its relations with its neighbors, especially with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Bagdasaryan underlined that the law on double citizenship would make the Diaspora Armenians, known by their radical attitudes, influential in the Armenian foreign policy and this would make the problem further chronic.

This law was accepted in the 131-seat Armenian Parliament with 66 votes against 5 votes. In other words, almost half of the MPs did not go to the Parliament. This fact is considered very important since it reveals the extent of the opposition against the law.

Consequently, although the law on double citizenship is not something very attractive for the Armenians living in developed countries and having a certain level of wealth standard, it can be assessed as an extremely valuable opportunity to take for certain Armenians living especially in poor countries such as Syria and Lebanon or living in Western countries and trying to spread their radical nationalist views in Armenia. It can be stated that the population of Armenia can increase at a certain rate as a result. However, what is more important is the fact that extreme nationalist views will become more widespread in the country. Such a situation will deepen the problems between Armenia and Turkey and will eliminate any possible solution.

    Comment on this article    Print    Recommend

«  Back

At present, there are no accessible commentaries.

« Other Articles »

ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

This site is best viewed at 1024 x 768 pixel resolution.