BEIRUT: “Lebanon was the heart of the Armenian diaspora before independence – and it is still the main bridge between Armenia and the Arab world,” said Giro Manoyan, the director of the Armenian Cause and Political Affairs Office (ACPAO) of the Armenian Revolution Federation Tashnag Party.
He emphasized the important role Lebanon plays in the ongoing process between Armenia and Turkey, because of the large number of Armenian emigrants who are able to support the development process from here.
Speaking during a conference at the Haigazian University in Beirut on Thursday, Manoyan discussed the conditions that must be met for Armenia to increase its political and economic independence.
He said the problems facing Armenians today are the direct result of relations between Armenia and Turkey.
The political divergence of the two countries is connected to economic and social problems which hinder the development process in Armenia as well as the return of the hundreds of thousands of emigrants who await better conditions.
For him, international, and in particular Turkish recognition of the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the 20th century would be a first step toward advancing relations between the two countries and would bolster the development process by encouraging much needed debate about the national rights of Armenians.
Manoyan said Armenia's greatest hope – and at the same time its biggest worry – is the outcome of negotiations between Turkey and the EU.
“The process of Turkish membership is important for us. It is our only way to influence the political future of our country. If Turkey was able to become a member of the EU without changing its politics, it would be a catastrophe for Armenia.”
By Nicole Haenel
Source: The Daily Star, Beirut, Lebanon, 21 October 2005