I want to see the Armenia that will bring Diaspora to the Homeland

What are the main features of the Armenian identity and the routes to building the Armenia of our dreams? The head of the Culture sector at Genesis Armenia and the director of the Opera Studio Hayk Vardanyan talks about the Armenia of his dreams and the problems in the sphere of culture in post-war Armenia.


Why Genesis Armenia?

Genesis Armenia is an opportunity for each Armenian. There are not many platforms offering the chance of consolidating the pan-Armenian potential, or perhaps these platforms are not visible. Genesis Armenia obviously undertook this mission. There is a lot to do. In two or three years we will witness profound changes due to Genesis Armenia. As in all spheres, a lot has changed in culture, so we should lay a solid foundation.


Armenian culture before and after the war

I prefer to begin  with positive aspects. I assure you that the sphere of Culture in Armenia has never been as active as it was at the beginning of this year. Cultural teams, be it a troupe, an orchestra, a singer, a musician or an artist, are working with such dedication that I can confidently state that through culture we will be able to rise from the ashes, give people hope and once again look to the future with renewed faith. However, we can't turn a blind eye to the negative aspects. The war threw down new challenges to the state, and in fact, the sphere of culture suffered the most. So, now we must work even harder with even less resources. Of course, this is a problem, but a solvable one.


Life before and after the war

We were put in our place in the world and we should take this fact into account. There are people who accepted the reality and are now looking for ways out of the current situation. And there are people who point a finger at others and never at themselves. We are mainly to blame for our defeats and we will be mainly to blame for our future victories. Clever ones should unite around a healthy mindset and we will win again. 

There are obvious shortcomings which should be rectified and turned into a roadmap. We can always succumb to depression and do nothing. But we had better be filled with faith as our faith will move mountains. If we don't stand up for our identity, we will have nothing to offer to the world.


Armenian identity we should offer to the world

Family structure, respect for the intelligentsia, the ability to be guided by the words of our elders; back then, our intellectuals used to go from school to school and educate schoolchildren. Now, they seem to be wantonly silencing the intelligentsia, as if beheading the nation. We should listen to the intelligentsia. However, for years we have been ruining and destroying what once had a firm foundation.


Why did we ruin and not hold on to what’s ours?

The "why" has no answer, and there is no need to look for it. Instead, we must realize that there is much to be done, we must anchor in culture, but never disregard foreign policy or forget about promoting the country. Everything we call national has become regional over time. We cannot fight against this․ Such is our geographical location. Our cultural heritage should be based on national values, but it should not be detached from universal human values. We must listen to ourselves, get on the right path and appreciate what is ours. We must take the enemy's challenge as a hint, become more of a claimant, hold on to what is ours and strengthen what we have.

We didn’t hold on to what we had: the torn-down domes of the Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Church in Shushi bear witness to that.

The enemy is giving us good hints about how to defeat them in the future. If they realize the importance of culture and have now taken up the destruction of Armenian culture, we, as a state, must work to restore and preserve it. We need to get stronger so that we can restore what has been temporarily erased. This is a very strong hint, as well as a challenge. The enemy has started from erasing our traces, which is obvious now and was inconspicuous before. They have always been busy with that. We, too, have implemented the wrong cultural and educational policy for years, ruining everything completely. Therefore, we now have to correct the mistakes and build the Armenia of our dreams.


The Armenia of your dreams

Armenia must have a great desire to live. First of all, we must realize that we need to increase our numbers. If we do not do that on our land, it is pointless to talk about anything else. This may sound ambitious, but this is the best, if not the only, option. Then we’ll base everything on it, we’ll have a strong economy, we’ll have quality, because quality often comes from quantity.

I picture and I want to see the Armenia that will bring the Diaspora to the Homeland. As many Armenians in Armenia as in the Diaspora - this is the Armenia of my dreams. I can see that happening, and I'm certain it is possible. But at the same time, we must not underestimate the security challenges we need to address. It is not just about physical extermination or the security of our borders, but also about preserving national identity, culture and heritage. After dealing with the security issue, we’ll dream of bigger things.