Hrant Sahakyan
Budget Controller, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva; Board and Executive Committee Member, Switzerland-Armenia Chamber of Commerce

First, I would like to join the others to congratulate you both, for the great work; this is indeed a complete and high-quality work. Relevant and in-depth analysis, very pertinent comparisons, objective and thorough appreciation of the situation, very impressive, indeed.

I have two modest comments. 

You know, sorry to say, but the two of the way-forward models cannot be relevant to us. I mean the Capsule model and the Periphery of an Empire. Periphery of an Empire de facto means losing our sovereignty (in all terms); I don’t think it’s an option to consider. Especially as you said (and as we have experienced), it will give nothing, just an illusion of security. The Capsule is even worse; who wants to become a country like the North Korea, in order to save identity? With all the respect to our Georgian-Armenian Community, but we cannot sacrifice the future of our country to save the identity of the Georgian-Armenians. I think the identity also will die in that capsule. For me, all the three options should be called Hub (Hub 1, Hub 2, Hub 3, etc.). There might be different types of hubs (technological, financial, tax heaven, general and so on), but it has to be a hub, we cannot hide ourselves in this world like an ostrich in the desert. Who can say that identity is at risk in a Hub? I think it’s the other way around, the national identity gets stronger and more promoted through hubs, than in capsules. Who says that Switzerland or Lebanon have lost (or reduced) their identity? One man, Roger Federer, has done so much for his nation’s identity that a whole country could not do. Swiss quality mark, Swiss technology, Swiss healthcare, Swiss tourism… aren’t these better ways of expression of their identity? Or who mixes up Lebanon with Libya or Syria? No one. Lebanon’s name is heard in the world (in the peaceful world) more than any other country name of the Middle East. This (hub) is the way to promote culture, language, kitchen and other components of identity – through inclusion, interaction and adopting of world standards as targets (and not regional standards). So, I am fully in support of you.
My second comment is about the implementation. I see it as a big concern. How to get there? Where to start, who takes the lead, what’s the State’s involvement? Do you think efficient connecting is a possible task? And so on and so forth. Well, I think at least big adjustments have to be made (political decisions, legislation, infrastructure, mobilisation of human and material resources, time and timing, etc.). I am sure another great paper has to be written (as “At the Crossroads” that you did), and it (The Roadmap?) will be even harder to compile. 
You know last year, when the Velvet Revolution happened, the first reaction of many of us was to think on how to mobilise the Diaspora for the rebuilding of our country. The enthusiasm was just great. We had some discussions/meetings, and… stopped there. My surprise was even greater to see that the State is not pursuing (anymore, or doing very little) to involve Diaspora’s potential into the Rebuilding. 

The last but not the least, I was also expecting you to ask such a question – if somehow, and sometime our way-forward model (Hub) is chosen, who can make herself/himself available to be involved in the implementation in one way or another? I think it is important to check the pulse of the Diaspora. 


I would like to give you some more modest feedback in relation to the Implementation (paper). 

It is true that you have put on the table a kind of an impossible trinity (national identity, security and prosperity). Whatever combination is privileged as a way forward, it should go with a lot of mitigation for the others (the ones that may seem in weaker positions). As far as the national identity in a capsule, I compare this with a precious gem which we keep away from everyone, no one can see it, no one will know about it, then as French say “ça sert à rien” (this brings nothing). Take an example of an international school: all the kids are very happy and proud of their own national identities, because that is what the school is promoting for. The Hub country also can have a policy of promoting and reinforcing the national identity of the host country. Of course, it is left to precise what does it mean a national identity; this is open to wide interpretation. What I mean is simply about the language, literature, history, culture, heritage, religion (in our case), Mount Ararat (in our case), legacy of our ancestors-heroes, know-how, comparative advantage, nowadays heroes etc. 

Security in a Hub country: if we speak about prosperity, that brings in capital flows, then it creates welfare. Welfare means social security and also physical security (internal and external). Plus, ample interaction, inclusion and integration into the world family brings more frankness and stability in everything. However (a big however), we are out of any classical context, we are in a unique (Armenian) situation, which means that transforming ourselves into a Hub country is a unique challenge (that’s why I gave absolute importance to the implementation-roadmap). Which is possible if we, as you say, make a proper inventory, mobilise Diaspora (or let’s say all Armenians, maybe Diaspora is not anymore a good word), resources and the right Policy (policy, policy). 

Thanks for mentioning the grassroots movement, I think this is the right way to start. All the previously done direct chasing for mobilising billions (through few) either have failed or have not created material impact to change lives. 


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