On Friday May 26, the “Arménia” cultural association held a debate in the Salle Cheneviers of the MJC Jean Moulin in Bourg-Lès-Valence (Drôme) on the theme of “Armenians, people of the past or of the future?” in front of an audience of several dozen people.

Before opening the debate, Krikor Amirzayan, president of “Arménia”, greeted the audience, which included elected representatives, religious leaders and heads of associations.

Also present were Wilfried Pailhes and Georges Ishacian, elected representatives from Bourg-Lès-Valence. Also present were Armenak Abrahamyan, President of Western Armenia, and Lydia Margossian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Western Armenia, Ara Nuryan, one of the leaders of the Valence FRA, Kristapor Mikaélian section, Georges Eretzian, Alain Euksuzian and Sarkis Jamakordzyan, members of Armenian associations. Khosrof Iliozer, vice-president of “Arménia” and president of Idje-Val and l’Amicale de Malatia, based in Malatia, Western Armenia. 

Krikor Amirzayan “Armenians are a people of history. In ancient times, the Armenians were a great people, numbering almost 5 million in a world that numbered just under 200 million in the early days of Christianity. While many people are familiar with the Armenian Empire of Tigran the Great in the 1st century BC, with an Armenia at its apogee three to four times the size of France, stretching from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and the Caspian, before this Armenian Empire, Armenia was also a great kingdom.

In 190 and 160 BC, Armenia under King Ardachès I was already a vast country, with the Kingdom of Armenia Major, the Kingdom of Armenia Minor, Tzopk and Commagene – four Armenian kingdoms larger than present-day France.

But Armenia, subjected to invasions by Romans, Persians, Arabs, Mongols and Seljuk Turks, was reduced in size over the centuries. Invaded, but never completely subjugated, this Armenia, which became the world’s first Christian state in the year 301, managed to retain a form of independence. 

And even with the loss of the last Armenian state in 1064, with the fall of its capital Ani, the Armenians created the Kingdom of Little Armenia, in Cilicia, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean between 1080 and 1375. The last king of Little Armenia, Léon VI de Lusignan, was a Poitevin who rests today in the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

But after the invasions, forced displacements, massacres and genocide of the Armenians between 1915 and 1923 by Turkey, are the Armenians, who almost disappeared and two-thirds of whom perished, a people with a future?

The history of the Armenians, with its roots in 8,000 years of history, bears witness to the resilience of this nation, always invaded, but always standing firm. A resilient people.

And even if the spectre of a second genocide – or the continuation of the first – continues to haunt Armenia and Artsakh in the face of Turkish-Azeri appetites, the Armenian people seem to have the necessary resources for resilience and a zest for life.

In these conditions, the Armenians, who have given great names to history in every field from science to cinema, from song to literature, from the army to justice in France, Armenia and the rest of the world, where they number nearly 12 million, also seem to be looking to the future. A people of history, but also of the future.

Armenia is indeed a people of the future, who have given great names to humanity. From Charles Aznavour and Cher for song, Kim Kardashian for reality TV, Henri Verneuil and Ruben Mamoulian for cinema, Victor Hambardzumian for astrophysics to astronaut James Baguian, from Marshal Baghramian to Missak Manouchian for resistance against Nazism, from academician Henri Troyat to painters Aïvazovski and Arshile Gorky, the history of world civilization lists hundreds of illustrious Armenians. Proving that Armenians, a people of the past, are also people of the future.

Armenia’s growth in the high-tech, hi-tech and digital sectors, which make up a significant part of the Armenian economy, is proof of this vitality and the future of the Armenian nation”. 

In response to the question “Are Armenians a people of the past or of the future?”, the debate got under way with numerous interventions from the audience. These included Armenag Aprahamian, Lydia Margossian, Sarkis Jamakordzian, Georges Ishacian, Ara Nourian, Simon Melkonian, Alain Euksuzian (see videos of these speeches). Very precise speeches demonstrating the resilience of the Armenian people, with a rich past but also a certain future, even if “dark clouds” hang over Armenia and Artsakh, particularly since the 44-day war in autumn 2020. 

At the end of the evening, Western Armenian identity cards were handed out to several of those present at the meeting.

Krikor Amirzayan.