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By Armen Zakarian and Hrach Melkumian

The Second Armenia-Diaspora conference ended today in Yerevan with various commissions submitting their final reports to hundreds of delegates from 45 countries around the world, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh attending the meeting.

Four major commissions in their final reports put forward various proposals to further develop Armenia-Diaspora relations, but some proposals remained relatively vague.

The commission tasked with discussing “Political Relations – Armenia-Diaspora Organizational Issues” headed by Armenia’s Ambassador to Austria and OSCE, Jivan Tabibian reported to the conference that there is general consensus to establish a “National Council” to coordinate relations and cooperation between the Diaspora and Armenia. Other proposals such as the creation of a Diaspora ministry remain to be finalized by this National Council.

The other commissions dealt with information and media, economic and social development and education, culture and science.

In its final draft declaration, the conference noted that Armenians worldwide face new challenges in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. The declaration strongly condemned international terrorism as one of the major threats to humankind.

The declaration singled out “the liberation” of Nagorno Karabakh as the most significant achievement of Armenians in their modern history and pledged to give its full support for the enclave’s self determination and its socio-economic development.

It also identified the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a top priority and thanked all the nations who have recognized the 1915 tragedy of Armenians as genocide.

At the closing ceremony, Catholicos Aram I, the second most important religious leader of the Armenian Church voiced his concern about emigration from Armenia. President Robert Kocharian in his closing remarks replied that the best way to reduce emigration is to increase investments in Armenia. On a topic dear to the hearts of Diaspora Armenians, Kocharian promised that the upcoming constitutional referendum would eliminate the current restriction on having dual citizenship.

The delegates and the leadership of Armenia gathered at the Sardarabad memorial, following the conclusion of the conference, to celebrate Armenia’s independence day. Sardarabad is where in May 1918 a rag-tag Armenian army defeated the advancing forces of the Ottoman Empire who threatened to overrun what remained of the nation’s historic homeland.
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