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July 16, 2010

ACNIS Holds Seminar on National Symbols, Independent Statehood, and Armenian Language

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) convened a roundtable discussion today, entitled “National symbols, independent statehood and Armenian language,” focusing on the Armenian language as a foundation for Armenian statehood and independence. The meeting brought together leading analysts, policy specialists, public and political figures, including the head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Ambassador Sergey Kapinos, as well as NGO representatives, and members of the press.

After welcoming the participants, ACNIS Director Richard Giragosian noted that “today, the Armenian society can no longer remain a spectator and its voice needs to be heard by the decision makers.”

Karine Hakobian, art critic and publicist, then discussed the matter of cultural identity as a pillar for the formation of an independent and a national state, and stressed that the Armenian language is the axis of that identity. “Ever since the early 1990s, an insufficient importance was placed on the role that culture, language, and national symbols play in the establishment of independent statehood. As a result, the studying of artistic heritage and the challenge of national self-consciousness became a derivative, and this brought about today’s reality, when the Armenian language could turn into a scapegoat for the current inconsolable state of education in the country,” Hakobian maintained.

The second speaker, Director Ruzan Sarian of the Sarian Museum, presented the history behind the creation of the second Armenian republic’s coat of arms. According to Sarian, this crest, which was created by the great Armenian painter Martiros Sarian, had placed a strong emphasis on Mt. Ararat as the main symbol. Sarian also quoted Simon Vratsian, the last prime minister of the first Republic of Armenia, who had criticized the first republic’s cote of arms as being a “unification of symbols that have no connection with the Armenian identity.”

The roundtable discussants also included Raffi K. Hovannisian; analyst Garegin Chugaszian; culture specialist Lala Mneyan; ethnographer Levon Abrahamian; and several others.

The presentations were then followed by a series of questions and answers, and featured a lively exchange with the audience. At the end of the roundtable, numerous attendees joined an initiative group’s movement against the establishment of foreign-language schools in Armenia.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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Armenian version