Armen Urneshlian, PhD
Principal of the Armenian Evangelical College, editor of the Haigazian Armenological Review, Instructor in Haigazian University, Beirut, Lebanon

The work “At the Crossroads” by Ruben Vardanyan, Nune Alekyan and their partner Nubar Afeyan is a result of anxiety and a search for how to tackle it. Anxiety comes from pain, and the pain is caused by the negativity of the current state of things in Armenia and the uncertainty of the future. The present is difficult to change, because it becomes the past in a second. Thus, it is the future that needs to be changed.  

It seems that the authors firmly believe in the principle of “learning from the lessons of the past.” This is the right approach if the past, in this case history, and in particular the Armenian history, is studied without emotions and peacockery, substantively and with scientific analysis.  

A third of the book is devoted to the history of Armenians and Armenia until 1991, which may seem a little strange for a book aimed at the future, but it clearly shows the authors' confidence that it is impossible to plan the future without analyzing the past. And the past consists of victories and defeats, which have internal – internal Armenian – and external – international causes. Therefore, according to the authors, in this past not only lessons should be sought, but also the foundation for building the future. Analyzing the centuries-old history, the authors identify those periods that have already become turning points in our history. Moreover, the authors have tried to consider the collective behavior of our people in various crucial situations in order to analyze it and learn lessons. There are many such lessons, but I will mention two. 

Lesson one: the flexibility of the Armenians, the ability to protect their interests in a conflict of interests of the larger forces in order to preserve their own identity. History testifies to this truth. But I don’t know whether our ancestors used this skill consciously or spontaneously (as they would say in Armenia, by inertia), which would mean that this flexibility is our innate talent. Now, when we are at a point of conflict of interests (this time it is not war, but economic, political interests, skills and scientific competition), how much have we preserved our flexibility to maintain our identity in the conditions imposed on us?  

Lesson two: considering the various stages of emigration, from the 11 to the 20th centuries, the authors make useful comments and conclusions. Needless to say, emigration has long been destroying the demographic picture of Armenia, and this is still happening. Having studied the different stages of emigration and the actions of emigrants, who again and again showed their previous skills of preserving their identity, the authors came up with the idea of a network nation, which in the absence of statehood is a unique kind of a state model. The authors believe that this idea can work today as well, if studied properly. 

Exploring the present, the authors attach great importance to the establishment of independent statehood as a guarantee of the long life of the nation, not forgetting the church, culture and education. The authors note the causes of the main problems of our time, and among others, dwell on two: the corrupt system of Armenia’s state institutions (they use the term “extractive”), which not only destroys, but also splits a very important system – the principle of inclusiveness, when a citizen or representative of a nation can have active and decisive participation and say in the state and national institutions. The authors consider the aforementioned, interrelated situations to be the root cause of, or the most important one of our present deficiencies, which leads to a split in the society, and this can cause serious threats to the future of both statehood and society, national institutions and systems such as church, culture, language, school... 

Future: The future. How far can we predict the future? Much is beyond our ability and is tied to world events. However, we also have a lot to do. The authors are sure that in the context of the growth of the Diaspora, it is necessary to ensure the participation of all Armenians in the development of the homeland. This will be possible if Armenia becomes and is perceived by the Diaspora as a single or major center of a large national network, from where all the paths come and where lead to. 

The authors have answers, they have their own alternatives or perceptions of the continuity of the nation and the homeland. The book also raises many questions – directly or indirectly. However, it is not written as a commandment or an order. On the contrary, believing in the principle of inclusiveness put forward in the work, the authors made the book public before publication, putting it up for public discussion, which is a very commendable and exemplary approach.  


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