By Armen Zakarian
Ara Abrahamian, Russia’s most famous Armenian-born businessman, deplored on Tuesday a lack of support for his recently formed pan-Armenian structure from the leading political groups in the worldwide Diaspora.
“It is very unfortunate that none of the parties in the Disapora has contacted me in the last five months to find out what we are up to,” he told RFE/RL in Yerevan. “I can’t understand what the problem is.”
“We have no expectations from them because there is nothing they can do in our area of activity,” he added. “They have thus shown that they are outside that area.”
Abrahamian specifically named the three main Diaspora-based parties, including the biggest and most influential of them: the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Dashnaktsutyun, which is represented in Armenia’s government, is thought to view with suspicion the World Armenian Organization (WAO) set up by the Kremlin-linked tycoon last year.
The organization held its founding congress in Moscow in President Vladimir Putin’s presence in October, setting an ambitious goal of “uniting” millions of ethnic Armenians scattered around the world. However, few prominent Armenians from Europe and the United States attended the high-profile gathering which was given prime-time coverage by Russian state television.
The Kremlin-backed initiative has also met with lukewarm reaction from Armenia’s political establishment, with President Robert Kocharian voicing misgivings about Abrahamian’s attempts to put all major Diaspora communities under a single umbrella structure. In a speech at the WAO’s Moscow congress, Kocharian said only the Armenian state should aspire to that role.
Abrahamian has since been struggling to disprove speculation that the whole undertaking is part of Moscow’s efforts to gain influence on the Armenian Diaspora which is particularly influential in the United States. The WAO’s main objective, he insisted on Tuesday, is to “create a powerful Diaspora” and achieve international recognition of the 1915 genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Abrahamian also spoke of his “grandiose plan” to set up “business councils” around the world that would promote foreign investment in Armenia. He said one such group already operates in Argentina, bringing together the country’s leading businessmen of Armenian descent, among them billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian.
The Moscow-based tycoon has already invested in Armenia’s burgeoning real estate and construction sectors. But his business interests remain concentrated in Russia’s diamond mining and trading sector.
Underscoring his Russian government connections is the fact that Abrahamian is one of the official campaign proxies of Putin who is up for reelection next week. “Putin has helped the Union of Armenians and Armenia a lot,” he said.