Armenian intellectual Hovel Chenorhokian, based in France, is calling on fellow Armenians to rise to the occasion and bring back the glory of the Armenians.
In his message, he says that Armenians had earned a reputation as trustworthy and skilled traders as early as the 11th century. They played a vital role in bridging the gap between Asia and Europe by operating along the famed Silk Road. By the 12th century, Armenian merchants accounted for a significant portion, approximately 10%, of the population of Venice, which was then the bustling business center of Europe—akin to what Hong Kong or Dubai represent today.
In the Indian subcontinent, Armenians were revered as “Merchant Princes.” One notable figure among these Indian Armenian luminaries was Lord Paul Khachik Chater, the chief architect of Hong Kong’s transformation into a jewel of the British Empire. Despite a challenging start in life, orphaned at the tender age of eight, he built a formidable empire from the ground up. Other prominent Armenians who left an indelible mark on history include Calouste Gulbenkian, who enjoyed the trust of the British and established an oil empire, and Kirk Kerkorian, often considered the visionary behind the development of Las Vegas.
Chenorhokian reminds us that Armenia, historically, has occupied a vital crossroads between the East and West, as well as the North and South. Millennia of civilization have honed a skilled population adept at flexible negotiations, capable of conducting diplomacy with Easterners and Westerners. Given this historical and geographical advantage, one might have expected Armenia to have a population of around eight million today, including two million foreign expatriates who would migrate to Armenia, much like they flock to economic powerhouses. Armenia should have been radiating its rich culture, serving as a mediator between nations like Russia and Ukraine or Iran and Saudi Arabia, and functioning as a pivotal economic hub with the capacity to host crucial gas and oil pipelines.
So, what led to this stark contrast between the glorious past and the challenging present? Chenorhokian emphasizes the importance of conducting a meticulous and comprehensive diagnosis before seeking a remedy for Armenia’s current predicament. Understanding the root causes behind this decline is essential to charting a path toward revitalizing the nation and recapturing the grandeur of its historical legacy.
While reflecting on the rise and fall of the Armenian nation, it becomes evident that we have lost our compass, our “Book of Laws,” not only in our Homeland but also within the Diaspora, he underlines. It’s essential to clarify that when we speak of this loss, we are not referring to matters of faith or religion but rather to the values that underpin the very essence of Armenian identity – values such as trustworthiness and a sterling reputation, as exemplified by our historical role as traders and merchants.
It is precisely the absence of these values that has contributed to our current dire situation, he points out. Yet, in this challenging moment, there remains hope. We must recognize that our situation is not beyond remedy. If we had upheld and preserved three fundamental moral values throughout our history – integrity, humility, and fraternity – today, Armenia would have retained its rightful position of honor and influence.
In the end, Chenorhokian underlines that the path to revival lies before us, waiting to be tread upon. Therefore, I implore you, my fellow sisters and brothers, spiritual leaders, educators, intellectuals, politicians, and entrepreneurs, to rise to the occasion. Let us take up the mantle of full-fledged heirs of the great figures of our history, such as Nerses Shnorhali, Davit Anhaght, and Anania Shirakatsi. Together, let us be the guiding lights of this revival, igniting the spirit of unity, integrity, and resilience within our beloved Armenian nation. With these values as our compass, we can steer our course towards a brighter and more prosperous future, where the glory of our past shall be rekindled, and the Armenian legacy shall shine once more.
Prepared by Hrach Kalsahakian