Telethon 2007 is over, with very satisfactory results – this is such a great, unifying initiative, that it is hard to see any other example, when the Armenian Diaspora collectively supports the development of our common fatherland – Armenia. The Telethon was also well represented on the Internet: the Armenian version of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund was quite up to date in all three language versions: Armenian, English and French.
Although logically, as we have, according to some estimates around 2 million Armenians in Russia, the website should have a Russian version as well, I somehow felt gloatingly satisfied to observe this omission. Here is at last an all-Armenian event, where Russia doesn’t play the dominant role. That is indeed satisfying, call me anti-Russian if you will!
More about the achievements of the Telethon 2007 can be seen on this section of All-Armenian Fund’s website, as well as in various press reports:
[Panorama.am | 14:12 23/11/2007] The annual telethon organized by Pan Armenia Fund ended several hours ago in Los Angeles. The telethon managed to collect $15 million 275 thousand which is more than collected last year, $14 million.
The pan national fundraising was conducted under the heading “One nation, one future.” The collected money will be used to recover villages in Tavush region of Armenia and Martuni region of Nagorno Karabakh.
Pan Armenia Fund reports say people for Los Angeles, Europe, Asia as well as Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia actively participated.
While I greatly compliment the Armenian Diaspora on this growing amount of financial assistance they are inputting into the development of Armenia, I also have to note, that the key indicator to help me measure the dynamics of Telethon and the success of the All-Armenian Fund was the fact, that only 142950000 AMD was collected by the 2500 Armenian organizations this time. Considering today’s CBA exchange rate that is $453507 US, or 2.96% of the total amount pledged. Comparing it with last years figures I was somehow depressed to see, that this year’s figure pledged from Armenia is lower than last year’s $1.54 million or 11% of the total. What does this mean? Don’t the Armenian companies directly benefit from the programs implemented by the fund? Does it mean, that they don’t trust it anymore? Or is it, because the outgoing and weakened President Kocharian and Serge Sargsyan, who disparately needs the support of big business, decided to not to pressure the big Armenian businessmen to contribute more? Indeed, there are many speculations and rumors, that Armenian businesses contribute only because they are told to from above. And that is a depressing idea.
Anyway, despite controversy over telethon (and I remember very well how Armenian blogger Nazarian was speaking about his doubts about whether to contribute or no), bare figures show us, that the Diaspora trusts the Telethon more and more. And despite all the reservations, I have to compliment the All-Armenian Fund and the Armenian Diaspora for this new achievement in joining forces to support the nation one more time. Diaspora, we need you, and it’s not just a matter of financial resources. We need the understanding, that we are all One Nation, One Future indeed.
Well, the usual criticism of the telethon is that the bulk of it is made up from single rich benefactors and that less and less average Armenians in the Diaspora donate. However, I haven’t been following this year’s and I have no interest in doing so.
Mainly because of one simple fact. If the Diaspora put it’s foot down and stopped bailing out the government, think how much more could be achieved. $15 million is NOTHING compared to amount of money that’s being siphoned off. So, sorry, I’m cynical about this and things changed in this country there would be no need for such telethons.
Moreover, INVESTMENT is better than donations without proper oversight and transparency.
Somehow I get the feeling that much of this ammount could have come from the Immigrant communities, who often live separate lives from those neat and all encompassing category of “Diaspora”.
Onnik, I have to aggree with your comment completely. The way that I see it is that KocharianaSerjakan bandocracy is the main obstacle between Armenia and Diaspora. I can list so many instances (that you don’t hear about on the news) whereby Kocharian has been doing things to which one may say “How short-sighted are these guys?”. They think that having a relationship means having the right to exploit and getting an opportinity to get close enough as to fool and rob them. There is also this unhealthy attitude as if Diaspora owes something to Armenia and should feel feel blessed for this. They don’t seem to have any notions of what a long-term relationship may be, and how to build a relationship and that the Diaspora has it’s own politics too. They have been keeping diaspora at bay, seeing at as a threat rather than an asset, playing games with it, fooling it and sometimes openly turning it’s back on it at times when political help is needed, At the same time the Diaspora has started to loose faith in Armenia.
BUT If there was a governance by an Open , Accountable, Decent and non-corrupt persons with sound democratic practices and a foreign policy with a spine… If Diaspora could feel less estranged and less as distant relatives, and more like brothers… If Diaspora could view Armenia as their homeland, rather than an exotic tourist destination… that distant Diaspora would embrace Armenia in a way that you woulldn’t believe — there would be so much investment pouring into Armenia that Azeri oil revenues might seem like pocket change. I’m quite serious! This regime has been more of an obstacle and a burdain to both sides of Ararat.
Some say Diaspora has dried up, I say Diaspora has just lost faith. They just don’t want to deal with country where nothing can be done without corruption. And they wouldn’t be sending any more money than a symbolic minimum when they know that the money for the Mardakert-Hadrut road was collected 7 years ago and it is still incomplete and in budget deficit, that over 1/3 of the money raised for upgrading irrigations in Lori simply vanished, that the money simply doesn’t make it to its final destination … that it gets “lost in translation” 🙁
What’s more is that I always sense a somewhat arrogant and cocky attitude toward Diaspora. I cannot see the Republican Armenian discourse even trying to understand the cultural uniqueness, the language(s), the literature, the experience and history of Diaspora … with its unique culture of hybridity that has learned to live in and celebrate diversity rather than unanimily of the dictated and monopolised claims of what this new model of Armenian identity might be. It definitely doesn’t strike me as an attitude of respect and of a desire to understand and learn more about various Diasporic communities living outside of the STATE of Armenia, as if that is all of “Armenia” and as if “Armenia” is just a territorial entity.
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