Armenia’s Public DiplomacyIn its 15 years as an independent state, Armenia has been quick to establish diplomatic relations with many of the world’s countries. The country became an abiding member of the World Trade Organization in 2003, and has permanent representation missions to organizations such as the European Union and NATO. Armenia is also currently undertaking a massive poverty reduction strategy aimed at rehabilitating the country’s struggling border villages, effectively securing a “geostrategic and economic security."
Tourism is considered one of the three major industries of the Republic, and as such, many resources are devoted to it. The Armenia Tourism Development Agency (ATDA) is chartered by the Government of the Republic of Armenia, with technical assistance provided by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and substantial funding from both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Hovnanian International.
...ATDA represents Armenia at "international trade shows, exhibitions and conferences, as well as organizing familiarization trips to Armenia for travel writers, tour operators and agents, sponsoring festivals and special events." See Armeniainfo.amThe Armenia Tourism Development Agency is very active in promoting Armenia overseas, and assists tourists in country. ATDA maintains a state of the art Information office in the capital city of Yerevan, and work is underway to open a second center in the Northern city of Dilijan.
Grassroots organizations, paricularly due to their ties with the large diaspora (approximately one-third of ethnic Armenians live outside the nation's borders), are highly involved in promoting Armenian culture abroad, sponsoring exchanges and volunteering opportunities to encourage diasporans and non-Armenians alike to visit and explore the country. Some such organizations include the Armenian Volunteer Corps, Birthright Armenia, Land & Culture Organization and the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
Cultural partnerships are fostered through various festivals and events. Notably, 2006 marked "The Year of Armenia in France," under the slogan "Armenie, mon amie". Other events of note include the annual Golden Apricot International Film Festival which premiered in 2004, and hopes gain credibility as film festival able to attract world class talent More at the festival's website.
In large part due to its high expatriate population in Western countries (specifically the US), Armenia has managed to create a strong, identifiable identity in the international sphere, especially when compared to neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan. The US Congress' decision to debate a bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in large part due to the efforts of Armenian-American activists, reflects this influence. However, Armenia's relations with neighboring countries in the Middle East, specifically Turkey and Azerbaijan, are strained.
Regaining its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Republic of Armenia has sought rapid yet sound economic reform from its centrally-planned roots, and as of 2005 Armenia's GDP had rebounded to 1989 (pre-independence) levels. Once relying strictly on heavy industries and mining, Armenia is experiencing a steady emergence of vibrant new sectors such as tourism and communications technology. Considered one of the "cradles of civilization" and the first country to formally adopt Christianity as state religion, Armenia is promoting its long history as an attraction for foreign visitors. Avarayr is a prominent tour company providing foreign visitors a fresh perspective on a now blooming post-Soviet Union land.
The recent 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide has resulted in a flurry of international activism regarding recognition of the conflict and its victims. Serving as a platform for bolstering support to end similar atrocities, such as those now occurring in the Darfur region, countries throughout the world have hosted ceremonies and public gatherings marking the event. At the University of Southern California, candlelight vigils and speeches drew school-wide support and acted as a springboard for student debates regarding genocide and government response.
- For coverage of the USC ceremonies, view Students Remember Armenian Genocide by Daily Trojan reporter Kaelyn Forde Eckenrode, April 25, 2006.
However, despite the wide acceptance of the Armenian narrative in discussions of the Genocide in Western countries, there has been a failure to create a narrative accepted by both those of Turkic origin and Armenians, the two principle actors in the WWI-era conflict. The Turkic narrative stresses the mutual nature of the conflict, especially in light of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and while it acknowledges that the Ottoman strategy (used with other ethnic groups, also) of transferring ethnic minority populations in conflict to the Empire's desert southeast was disastrous for those being resettled, it does not recognize what occurred as a mass-led campaign of genocide. However, because this "genocide" definition is vital to the Armenian identity, thus far there has been an inability to bridge the gap between the two peoples, and this disagreement continues to poison relations. This identity conflict was a major underlying cause of the early-1990's Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, in which both sides labeled the other's actions "genocide". These problems contribute to Armenia's regional isolation, but offer an opportunity for public diplomacy, an untried strategy for reconciliation, to be attempted.
- Capital - Yerevan
- Population - 2,976,372 (July 2006 est.)
- Government – Republic
- President Robert Kocharian
- Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan
- Government of the Republic of Armenia
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Republic of Armenia
- Armenia Diaspora
Private & International Organizations
- Center of International Integration Support
- American University of Armenia
- Armenian Center for National and International Studies
International Broadcasting & News Organizations
Publications, Articles, & Commentary
- Students Remember Armenian Genocide by Kaelyn Forde Eckenrode. USC Daily Torjan, April 25, 2006.
Public Opinion Polls & Statistics
- ArmYouth – Listing of Armenian Blogs
- Blogrel – Blog on all aspects of Armenian life
- Martuni or Bust!!! – “A Wake-Up Call for the Global Armenian Community�?
PbWinter 12:52, 17 Jul 2006 (PDT)