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ARMENIAN RELIEF SOCIETY Inc. 80 Bigelow Avenue Watertown, MA 02472 Tel: 617.926.5892 Fax: 617.926.4855 Web: http://www.ars1910.org/ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ARS Presentation to the 2002 Armenia Diaspora Conference Honorable Presidents of the Republics of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, Holy Fathers of Ejmiatzin and Cilicia, Reverend Clergy, Honorable Members of Government, fellow Armenians: It is with renewed hope and satisfaction that I greet this Second Armenia-Diaspora Conference in the name of the great ARS family. As a firm believer in the concept of `One Nation, One Homeland', the Armenian Relief Society was an early promoter and organizer of such gatherings. While in agreement to the extreme importance of the subjects presented for discussion by the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, we would like to express our thoughts on the fundamental difficulties in the realm of collaboration that have, so far, remained unresolved. We are aware, that there are many hurdles to clear on the road to Armenia-Diaspora cooperation, and that we must save no effort to defeat regional prejudices, intolerance and discrimination in favor of accepting one another as indispensable parts of one inseparable whole. Today, our Homeland stands out as the most viable in the region, and we are a noticeable presence in most parts of the civilized world as organized communities with our religious, social and cultural structures, multi-lingual press, media and vast network of communications. It is time to coordinate all facets of our pan-Armenian potential for the advancement of the Homeland and the effective propagation of our story among the leading circles of the world community for better assessment and just resolution of our national cause. At the risk of being repetitious, among the serious obstacles, we consider the non-adoption of the principle of dual citizenship as primary. In our opinion, there can be no doubt that the stronger the ties between the two wings of our nation, the more enthusiasm and long term commitment is generated in the ranks of our Diasporan communities to the progress and the strengthening of the Armenian State. Also, as an organization involved in the preservation of our national and cultural integrity, the ARS remains deeply concerned in view of the present fragmentation and the ensuing deplorable state of our Mother Tongue. We believe that - with possible adjustments - the return to the classical orthography in Armenia will have a most beneficial effect throughout the Armenian world. It will make it possible for our writers of both Armenia and the Diaspora to be published in both worlds without the necessity of time consuming `translations', not to mention the much needed textbooks from the Homeland, without which, future generations will forever be cut off from the creative spirit of the Homeland and the wisdom of its intellectuals. As to the matter of an Armenia-Diaspora organizational structure, we believe that the present level of collaboration can be raised and be made more constructive. To reach tangible results, it must be adjusted to the geopolitical, cultural and economic particularities of each community. We must, at all costs, avoid the temptation of imposing `homogeneity' in a misguided notion of promoting `unity'. At the present time, internationally active pan-Armenian organizations in the fields of philanthropy, culture and athletics, with thousands of active members and numerous facilities - with the participation and support of our political organizations -- can serve as the solid foundation on which can rise an Armenia-Diaspora cooperation structure. This structure will be fruitful in an atmosphere of coordinated participation with shared duties and responsibilities. We are convinced, that the resolution of the issues we mentioned will open the road to what has become our common goal - uniting the efforts of Armenia and the Diaspora in their common struggle. We remain hopeful, and we believe, that after this Conference, all of us will get to work without delay, in resolving whatever problems stand in the way of our common work. May this Conference mark the starting point of an effective Armenia-Diaspora unity. Thank you. Maro Minassian Chair, ARS