Oleg Gabrielyan
Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Vernadsky Crimean Federal University

In my academic experience, a new genre of reading comprehension appeared, which I designated as a ‘review of a book as destiny’. These were always reviews of the fate of the author of the book, that is, the book itself was only the starting point of reflection on the life of a person who splashed himself out in the Word. Let us remember how Boris Pasternak wrote: “A book is a cubic piece of a hot, fuming conscience – and nothing else.”

In my academic experience, a new genre of reading comprehension appeared, which I designated as a ‘review of a book as destiny’. These were always reviews of the fate of the author of the book, that is, the book itself was only the starting point of reflection on the life of a person who splashed himself out in the Word. Let us remember how Boris Pasternak wrote: “A book is a cubic piece of a hot, fuming conscience – and nothing else.”

This is the feeling about the book “At the Crossroads. Time for Decisions”I developed while reading it. But in this case, my reasoning itself will not deal with the fate of the authors which is, I am sure, interesting and successful, if they managed to write such a book. The focus is on the fate of Armenia, since it is precisely what is the main subject of a research that is an intelligent to the point of being intellectual, honest to the point of being harsh, and objective to being impartial research.

When reading, I had to overcome two emotional impulses. The first, like a negligent student, is the desire to look into the answer of the problem book and not take on the trouble of reading the entire book. I must admit, the amount of printed waste paper is so huge that over the years, a professional alertness has developed towards all kinds of project books, how to build a paradise on Earth, in Russia, in Armenia and further down the list. I glanced at the end, skimmed several pages, and realized that I had to not only return to the beginning, but also read everything with a pencil in hand. Before the reader is a book-project, and each part of it is a propaedeutic to the main thing – to the project of the future of Armenia and the Armenians in general.

The second impulse, which also had to be extinguished, was provoked by the content of the book, when you recognized not only the questions that disturbed you, but also the answers you had thought out, be stated simply, clearly, deeply, and reasonably.

Ruben Vardanyan mentions three periods of his life in the book. In one capacity or another, as a child of the Soviet era, I also lived through them. But in life I had to face not only the triune chronological allocation of fate, but also its triune allocation in the lasting post-Soviet time, when I simultaneously had to engage in professional activities, community affairs and social and humanitarian projects. I note this only in order to emphasize the not idle curiosity of the Armenian to the book about the fate and future of the people, but that of the researcher who is in the space of the subject of his analysis, who had and still has the possibility of included observation. This allows reading the book and checking it on the authors’ knowledge of the subject of research, its scientific consistency and practical feasibility of the proposed solutions. The book meets all the noted requirements. Moreover, its advantage can be attributed to a clear and accessible language of presentation of very difficult topics and problems.

With incredible skill, the authors managed to fit, in principle, three different formats into a small volume of the book: a short history textbook, a roadmap for the project of the future of Armenia and Armenians, and samples of various platforms for business projects. Moreover, all this works for the reader, not allowing one to postpone the book if concerned not only with the fate of one’s fatherland, but one’s family and one’s own.

I would not like to look like an enthusiastic, exalted reader, but what to do if you understand that an extraordinary book-reflection, a book-project, has appeared that answers the main question of all modern Armenians: “What to do?”

Of course, there are points methodologically vulnerable and ones in need of discussion. For instance, the excessive self-confidence in assessing the Soviet past from our present. To put it bluntly: “In hindsight, we are all smart.” Moreover, some assessments are very controversial, as if the authors have opened a storehouse of truths accessible only to them and do not notice that they themselves are in captivity of stereotypes and disputable statements. But all this does not compare with what they managed to do.

The authors quite rightly state that the time of an ideal storm and a crisis of the world order is not only a time of losses, but also a window of new opportunities opens, and it depends on the Armenians themselves whether they can use them. Will they restore their subjectivity, which they possessed even when they lost their statehood, sovereignty in historical lands? The history of the nation-mediator, interpreter convincingly proves that success is possible. Having lost their statehood, the people found their place in the world thanks to their openness to it. Merchant entrepreneurship and the network structure of the Diaspora were perfectly used in that historical period. But from the middle of the 18th century, it began to lose its subjectivity and has not been able to restore it by now, despite the fact that it acquired statehood.

Bitingly, in order to cut to the quick, the authors make a very serious diagnosis to the whole nation and every Armenian: our present has no future. I do not consider it possible to argue with this. Following the authors of the book, I propose to accept this as a fact. “But all our personal fears pale before the fear of a more general, higher order.” The authors of this book are afraid at the thought that in one or two generations we may disappear as a nation. The likelihood of such a sad outcome is high: our Diaspora is assimilating, our culture is withering, and our national identity is being eroded. And the danger of the physical annihilation of Armenians today is no less than a hundred years ago, since we still live in a zone of geopolitical instability, neighboring with unfriendly states. It is scary to think that we can lose our historical lands, we can lose Artsakh — then our long-suffering nation will lose its political sovereignty. It is scary to imagine that someday we will have to ask forgiveness from our children and live with a sense of guilt before future generations, since we did not do everything possible to preserve the Armenian heritage and the continuity of the generations.

No need to blame or, even more, accuse the authors of dramatizing the situation. I myself lulled myself with the thought that if one door closes, another opens. I found an excuse for myself that the German officers in Germany in May 1945 were shooting themselves in vain, and the Japanese samurai were doing hara-kiri, since those and others did not see their future and the future of their country occupied by the enemy. Yet, it was overcome!

The authors of the book convincingly show that for us the situation is existential and much more complicated. Over the eight years of leadership of the Crimean Armenian community, I still not only clearly understand this situation, but also experience it. By the 2014 census, the degree of interethnic marriages (in fact, assimilation) among Armenians reached 60% among men, and 40% among women. This should alert not only the Diaspora, but also the state itself, since a blurred identity is not a new, consciously accepted identity.

Without opening up to the world, finding our own place, that is, our own subjectivity in it, without a breakthrough towards inclusive development, neither the country, nor the Armenians, nor the Armenians as a whole have any prospects. This important thesis runs like a red thread in the thoughts of the authors. The book’s special significance is that it does not remain at the “technical assignment” or project level, but shows the spectacular, and more importantly, effective results from the implementation of various business plans, which in fact deploy pre-designed platforms. In turn, their peculiarity is in multiplicative efficiency, when, starting with charity, the project enters the stage of venture support, and then, on an increasing basis, various resources, including human resources, are involved in an increasingly expanding cluster-type project (implemented projects: in the field of financial services – Ameriabank, in the field of tourism – “Tatev Revival,” in the field of high technology – FAST, in the field of education – a college in the UWC system in Dilijan). The cooperation is acquiring a public-private character. Moreover, the projects can be carried out in a system of horizontal cooperation; by and large they do not need hierarchical management, and have a high degree of transparency.

The book is an example of how the global thinking of the authors is coupled with local transformations. Glocality is a key concept for them. It was nice to recognize the same methodological approach that I have been using for many years. The method of local transformations should be preceded by a strategy. The absence of any of these components turns any project into a “projection”.

In my opinion, it would be wrong to analyze every chapter of the book, all its main ideas. The purpose of my notes is different. To draw attention to an outstanding book, the Book – Manifesto. For nearly three decades we have been wandering in the darkness of our statehood and Diaspora disunity. A guidebook has appeared that should help us all.

As I was reading it, I sketched out a plan of action for myself. As the chairman of the “Luys” charitable foundation, I will propose it to my colleagues and community leaders. Perhaps we will start with a small step, for example, with a summer school for young people at the Surb Khach monastery. It is necessary to deliver the ideas of the book to the Diaspora, to the youth environment, to create a Diaspora network. There’s a need to look for new people, new ideas, a new present, so that we have a worthy future for a nation with a thousand-year history. In practice, this means creating a network structure of the people using the invaluable experience of Diaspora existence.

From a nation of victims of genocide, we must become a nation of victors. We have had victories in the past, and we have them in the present. Having lost the Avarayr battle, we were able to turn it into a Victory over the enemy, as we defended our Armenian being: the faith, language and unity.

Who is the Armenian to whom not only the book is addressed, but on whom is the hope for the salvation of Armenia and the creation of its future placed? The authors clearly answer this question: “We do not divide people by ties of blood or language, religion, or citizenship. We believe that to be an Armenian today is first of all a manifestation of an individual’s free will and a conscious choice, a willingness to identify with the nation and to go beyond the narrow boundaries of private interests. We firmly believe that joint activities by such people, who strive to make a reality of their vision of the future, can kick-start the process of unifying Armenians who are disunited today.” In my turn, I gave the following definition for it: “An Armenian is the one who does everything in his/her power to preserve what makes an Armenian.”

It is difficult to disagree with the authors of the book: “We have nowhere to run and no one will defend us. We cannot just sit and wait for our destiny to be determined for us. That has happened more than once and we know what a heavy price we had to pay. Yes, we are not a numerically large nation, but during an ideal storm it is not the strongest but the best prepared who survive – and this does not depend on population size or GNI per capita”.

Before us is a book-call for a new Avarayr, and everyone must make their choice – on the battlefield, in their company or enterprise, at a university or in a scientific laboratory, at home in Armenia or far beyond its borders... – are they ready to create the future of Armenia as the future of their children?

If the Lord saved us, then for some kind of a mission.

Vardanank, in order to make it real, while creating the Armenian world.


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