President Levon Ter-Petrosian has decreed the creation of a high-level State Council for Relations with the Diaspora, to be headed by Prime Minister Robert Kocharian. He was until recently president of the unrecognized Karabakh Republic. The council will inter alia coordinate relations between the Armenian state and Armenian communities worldwide, create a "pan-Armenian communication network," and "rethink the state-diaspora relations in light of the fact that Armenia has become an independent state." (Noyan-Tapan, Interfax, May 6)
These relations have suffered from the undemocratic turn in Armenia’s internal politics, which has left the diaspora divided. By the same token, the diaspora’s traditional political involvement in the home country is no longer accepted in its old forms by the sovereign government in Yerevan, which would prefer to limit that involvement to economics, culture, and lobbying for Armenia abroad. The diaspora’s — and the nation’s — oldest and most influential political movement, Dashnaksutyun, is banned in Armenia, and some of its activists are on trial. The choice of Kocharian to head the council reflects Yerevan’s awareness that the Karabakh issue can unify Armenians worldwide.
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