The official opening ceremony of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference, organized by the RA Ministry of Diaspora commenced at the Alexander Spendiaryan National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet on September 19. The plenary session began with opening remarks by the RA Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan and President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan. His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Patriarch-Catholicos Nerses Petros XIX of the Armenian Catholic Church delivered their blessings to the participants of the conference. Speeches were made by the President of the World Council of Armenian Evangelical Churches, the Reverend, Dr. Hovel Mikayelyan, AGBU Centtral Board Memeber Vasken Yacoubian, conveying AGBU President Berge Setrakian’s message, representative of the ARF-D Bureau Hrant Margaryan, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party Hagop Dikranian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar) Mike Kharapian, Armina Darbinyan, who presented the message of the President of the Board of Trustees of Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) Hrair Hovnanian, President of the Union of Armenians of Russia Ara Abrahamyan, Chairwoman of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Central Committee Vickie Marashlian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society Megerdich Megerdichian. The second plenary session took place on the same day and included speeches on four main subjects by RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan (Current Priorities and Future-Oriented Objectives of the Armenia-Diaspora Partnership), Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, secretary for the State Commission in charge of Coordinating the Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Hayk Demoyan (on Organizing the Events Dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide), Head of the Task Force in charge of Coordinating Activities with Syrian-Armenians, Chief of Staff of the RA Ministry of Diaspora Firdus Zakaryan (On the Key Issues of Syrian-Armenian Refugees in the Republic of Armenia) and President of the Coordinating Body for Pan-Armenian Forum of Journalists, Editor-in-Chief of Aztag Daily Shahan Kantaharian (The Role of Armenian Media in the Globalizing World). Parallel discussions of the above mentioned four Subjects continued at the “Elite Plaza” Business Center. Later participants of the conference were received by the President of the RA National Assembly Galust Sahakyan. The event saw 741 leaders and representatives of Armenian institutions and organizations from nearly 60 countries around the world converge in the Homeland. Participants of the conference, under the leadership of RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, visited the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial to pay tribute to the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. Afterwards, a symbolic tree planting took palce in the Memorial Ally of Tsitsernakaberd for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 5th Armenian Diaspora Conference. Reports were presented on the four main topics of the second plenary session. After colcluding the thematic sessions of the conference, RA Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandyan addressed the participants of all the sessions. The minister presented the achievements and current challenges of the RA Foreign Affairs Ministry. Edward Nalbandyan praised the role of the Armenian Diaspora in increasing Armenia’s visibility in the world. On September 20, the final plenary session of the 5thArmenia-Diaspora Conference was held at the Alexander Spendiaryan National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet, with participation of RA President Serzh Sargsyan. Reflecting on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the President mentioned: “In 2015, we will be commemorating the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. This will prove the Armenian nation’s will and determination to survive, live and create in life. We, who have been deprived of our homeland and will show our unity and how much we can achieve through our unity. The year 2015 will become a year of great achievements and initiatives for the Armenia-Diaspora-Artsakh triumvirate.” Talking about Syrian Armenians, who have emigrated from Syria, RA President mentioned: “They are part of our ancestors who survived the Armenian Genocide. They spread throughout the world but managed to preserve our national heritage and “Armenianness”.” Concluding the session, RA President Serzh Sargsyan congratulated everyone on the 23rd anniversary of Armenian’s Independence and called on all Armenians to keep strengthening their ties with the Homeland. Chief of Staff of the RA President Vigen Sargsyan while speaking about the events dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, stated that the creation of the State Commission in charge of coordination the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and more than 50 regional committees, has created a stronger determination to push forward the process of recognition of the systematic slaughter and planned genocide of Armenians carried out by the Ottoman Turish government in Western Armenia. “When our enemy was killing and massacring us in the early 20th century, their main aim was to see Armenians desperate and split apart,” the Chief of Staff of the RA President mentioned, adding that in spite of their desire, today we have a strong unity between Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora. In her closing speech RA Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan divided the issues raised at the conference into two parts – developing partnership mechanisms and creating new ones. In summation, the RA Diapora Minister underlined: “We are strong together and will create our history and build our future with the independent and victorious Artsakh and an united Diaspora.” The conference ended with Hampig Mardirossian’s speech, Editor-in-Chief of AGBU-AYA Khosnag magazine of Lebanon, who read the declaration adopted during the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference. On September 20, participants of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference visited RA Ministry of Defense and met with the Minister Seyran Ohanyan. In his speech, Seyran Ohanyan also touched upon the events taking place in the Near East and Ukraine, which have had an impact on Armenia and Armenian communities abroad. Seyran Ohanyan briefly presented stages and particularities of the army’s development, its achievements and also answered questions posed by the conference participants. From the RA Defence Ministry, the participants of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference headed to the Gabriel Sundukyan National Academic Theatre to watch the performance of “Court is in Session”. After the end of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference on September 20, the participants of the conference visited the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and Yerablur Military Pantheon on September 21st to mark the 23rd anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia. At Etchmiadzin the participants toured the Mother Temple, were introduced to the history and significance of the adjacent buildings, followed by a Holy Mass. Following the day at Etchmiadzin the the participants of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference were present at the Karen Demirchyan Sport-Concert Complex to participate in the reception hosted by the RA President on the occasion of Independence Day.

Participation of AGBU representatives in the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference

40 AGBU representatives arrived in Armenia to participate in the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference. They took part ans presided over thematic sessions. Reports were presented by AGBU Central Board Members Vasken Yacoubian and Yervant Zorian, AGBU Toronto Chair Knar Basmajian, Editor-in-chief of AGBU - AYA “Khosnag” newspaper of Lebanon Hampig Mardirossian, AGBU - AYA Central Board Member of Lebanon Vache Malkonian. AGBU representatives held a discussion meeting at the AGBU Armenia Representation on the issues concerning the conference and activites carried out by AGBU’s various chapters. At the end of the 5th Armenia-Diaspora Conference a farewell dinner was organized for AGBU representatives, during which the results of the Conference, as well as issues relating to the AGBU 88th General Assembly, to be held in Yerevan in April 2015, were discussed.