I have finally had a chance to read through the Crossroads document, which I found to be impressive in its scope, analytical approach, and not least, its aspirations. The vision of Armenia as a hub nation, re-invigorating a sense of national purpose through engagement in innovative enterprises that serve wider global problem-solving while fueling a sustainable economic engine to drive prosperity, is certainly ambitious and exciting.
As I read through the document, I was struck by what might be perceived as potential contradictions that will need to be clarified and resolved over time. These include:
- The tension between the desire to restore a sense of ethnic identity and connectedness among individuals of Armenian descent living in the diaspora and those who reside in sovereign Armenia (which presumes an attachment to both a shared history and a physical embodiment of shared origins – the land of Armenia) and the forward-looking concept of Armenia becoming a “hub” nation that transcends the conventional idea of nation/state and inevitably brings with it diversity in the population. How will these two objectives be reconciled?
- The deliberate decision to “stay away from politics” while advancing an ambitious vision for the future of a nation that can only be realized, ultimately, with political will and leadership that would, in turn, invigorate the kind of economic opportunity that might encourage Armenian youth to stay in Armenia and attract others to do business there.
- The timeliness of this vision, which promotes and advocates for a global network and “glocal” citizenship at a moment when much of the world is veering towards a (dangerous) resurgence of nationalism, protectionism, and distrust of globalization and multi-national alliances and markets. Can the “hub” model succeed in this environment?
I find compelling the impulse to imagine and articulate an optimistic vision of the future for all Armenians, as the driver for a sense of common purpose that could unify Armenians, regardless of where they live. As a case in point, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative’s focus on identifying and honouring contemporary saviours – individuals who stand up for others in times of crisis and duress – as a way of expressing gratitude to those who came to the aid of others during the Genocide is a great example of building common purpose using an authentic point of reference that is undeniably rooted in Armenian history and cultural experience. Most importantly, it changes the valence of what defines Armenian identity from shared victimhood to shared values.
I commend your effort to advance the Crossroads initiative and thank you for sharing the document with me.