Andrei Sharonov
President, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO

“At the Crossroads” is a very serious work that deserves attention, and not only from the Armenian community, although, of course, the target audience of the book is the residents of Armenia and the diaspora. I read it with interest. At some point, it seemed to me that some topics (for example, inheritance and successors) look non-harmonious with the main theme, but then I agreed with this when such topics are described as separate inserts. This does not break the general logic but adds useful information.

At the same time, I had several questions and considerations that I want to introduce.

1. I am confused by the idea of developing a mono-national state in the era of globalization. There is some contradiction here. 

2. In addition, there is almost a consensus that further development will occur in metropolises, which, to a large extent, will be (some have already become) cosmopolitan and non-national. I did not see any ideas about this in the work. 

3. The topic of Armenia as a mediating country is very interestingly revealed in a historical excursion, but I don’t understand how this can be realized now, when the spatial position plays a much smaller role in general, and even more so – as a “buffer between empires”. And if we keep in mind Russia, Turkey, and Iran, all of them are going through rather hard times. If we talk about the Armenians as mediators, then in the current situation it is not clear what this possible role is based on. By the way, it seems to me that Switzerland (as an example) is losing its role as a safe haven/mediator country for the world, since fundamentally different ways of preserving and increasing wealth arise. 

4. If we talk about the “new” attention of the diaspora to Armenia, then we need to answer the question, what the role of Armenia in the success of ethnic diasporas is (education, cultural code...)? It seems to me that the main success factors of diaspora representatives are significantly more dependent on their new countries or even are global in nature. In this regard, the motivation for the diaspora’s attention to Armenia may be a sense of duty, respect for traditions and culture, but not the search for success (all the more, there are currently no necessary conditions for success comparable to most places of their current habitat).

5. It seems to me a more realistic option when wealthy and passionate “global” Armenians, from philanthropic/business considerations (payback or sustainable philanthropy), begin to develop the country through very large national and supranational projects. In this regard, it is important to make Armenia “in vogue” in the world, and not only among Armenians, which can give serious economic and emotional impulses. It seems to me that now Georgia has succeeded in this more than Armenia. 

6. Regarding the right to vote for non-residents, here I see a great risk of irresponsibility, radicalism, lack of understanding of the internal Armenian context.

7. Several times in the text there is a phrase about “a conscious fear of assimilation.” Of course, I have no idea about the strength and prevalence of this feeling, but I venture to suggest that this fear is more likely to exist among people like the authors of “At the Crossroads” who think about preserving and reviving Armenia and consolidating the diaspora, rather than the majority of diaspora representatives who live in prosperous countries.  

8. Another phrase caught me: “the core of the network needs to offer obvious advantages both within the country and to the diaspora”. What are these benefits for Noubar Afeyan, for instance, inaccessible to him in the USA and other places (if we are not talking about nostalgia and other things, but these, as a rule, are not connected with well-being and everyday life)? How can this be combined/reflected in the well-being/attractiveness of Armenia for other nationalities (I do not believe in the long-term prospects of a mono-ethnic state, although Japan in fact lives quite well).

9. What to do with the fact that the most passionate representatives of any nation leave home for adventures and large projects? Apparently, this is a question of huge philanthropic-business projects and fashion for Armenia in the world that can return Armenian Colombuses to their homeland. 

10. And, finally, the Armenian government cannot have authority over Armenians abroad, this contradicts the nature of the state and international law. At the same time, there is a national practice (in Anglo-Saxon countries) when an unlimited circle of people (in this case, Armenians from the diaspora) join the lawsuit (in this case, the plaintiff is the Armenian government) in which they are interested (for example, on the Genocide). 


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