First and foremost, I’d like to express my profound gratitude for this initiative. A small thank you for the invitation to read this document, a bigger thanks for taking the initiative to think, research, discuss, analyze, and write up all these thoughts which will undoubtedly have their lasting impact on our collective history. But the biggest thank you for not stopping at the concept development stage and actually leading by example and practicing what you preach.
I’d like to start off by saying that I am a huge fan of the approaches proposed in this document. I agree 100% that we need to try things differently. Will this be enough to steer our collective ship into a bright future, I don’t know, but what I am convinced of is that the status quo will definitely not.
Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind as I read the document.
1. As an Armenian born and raised in the diaspora, I didn’t find myself fitting in the some of the categorizations described in the earlier chapters, specifically the “pillars of Armenian national identity”. I would say that this is all but a tiny observation, and probably speaks to the even more heterogenous nature of the diaspora than many of us imagine.
2. I would be curious to hear whether the authors think the recent developments in Armenia’s governance last year would change any of their thoughts or approaches. How, and do these developments change Armenia’s prognosis in the author’s opinion? How and do they impact the approaches proposed by the authors?
3. One of the things I didn’t hear the authors talk about and what I think is a critical component of successful implementation is dissemination of this thought process and approaches. I think that in order for these approaches to work, we need to reach a “critical mass” of people that believe in it and that are willing to contribute to it. The current document is thorough and elaborate, but not a lot of people are likely to read through it. I think the thoughts should also be tailored to different audiences in Armenia and the diaspora as well. I would imagine that something resembling a “campaign” will be needed to disseminate these ideas globally.
4. Perhaps the part I felt most uncomfortable with throughout the document is a separation between these approaches and state structures. I believe that in order for these approaches to work there should be greater involvement, collaboration and building of state structures that will then serve as the backbone for further development. We need a better education system in Armenia. Developing centers of excellence such as Slavonic University and UWC Dilijan can definitely serve as examples and set a higher bar for education at large in Armenia, but they are not likely to result in drastic improvements to the entire educational system unless active interventions are made into the system directly. Perhaps this concern is less relevant in sectors such as tourism, banking, agriculture and more relevant in the social sectors such as education and health, where ultimately it is inevitable that the majority of these goods will be delivered by the state to the people. And undoubtedly, we need an educated and healthy population to be the backbone of all other development.
There was a line in the manuscript that says “unlike businesses, the state is not an institution that creates added value”. Is this really true? Ultimately doesn’t the state provide guarantees to the people and the nation that then allow all of us to develop and invest in Armenia? Doesn’t the state vaccinate children so they live to be adults that can then work and take part in these projects? Doesn’t the state educate children? Is this not added value? Don’t businesses rely on the Human Resources and consumer base protected by the state? Will we (non-state actors) ever be able to replace all of these functions of the state? If not, don’t we need the state to do these functions and do them well, particularly given the fact that we are a very small nation?
Once again, congratulations on this fantastic work. I look forward to further discussions and wider dissemination of these thoughts.