02 October 2006

Visit to the Embassy of Armenia in Cairo

Azad-Hye, Dubai, 2 October 2006: The Embassy is located in a beautiful and spacious villa endowed with private garden in the Zamalek district, an affluent area where most embassies are located, relatively close to downtown Cairo. The site, originally belonged to Janik and Satenig Chaker and was bestowed in 1976 to the local AGBU by Satenig Chaker. It was eventually forwarded to the Armenian Foreign Ministry to serve as premises for the Embassy at a nominal rent. The Embassy of Armenia first was in an apartment in Dokki.

Artak Hovhannisian, a graduate of oriental studies from Yerevan, the Second Secretary of the Embassy welcomed us in the Embassy and gave a briefing about the location. Hovhannisian used to work in the Abu Dhabi Armenian Embassy (2001-2003).

Araxy Khatcherian-Deronian, a friend from the Egyptian Armenian community accompanied us in this visit.

The Embassy of Armenia in Egypt is the most important Armenian Embassy in the Arab World due to the weight that Egypt enjoys as a leading Arab country. The historical presence of the Armenians in Egypt, dating back to the Middle Ages, gives additional significance to the role of the Armenian diplomacy in this country.

Ambassador Dr. Rouben Karapetian welcomed us with a very sincere touch in his voice.

During our meeting he said that the Embassy is engaged nowadays in an active campaign to publicize to the Egyptian and general Arab public everything related to Armenia.

The Ambassador had the initiative to issue a tri-monthly bulletin called “Akhbar Armenia” (News of Armenia) since January 2006. The bulletin is now distributed to hundreds of important addresses all around Egypt and the Arab World. See the first two issues of the bulletin at the end of this report.

He stressed that the Armenian diplomats should consider the Arab World and particularly Egypt as a vital sphere for Armenian interests. Do not forget, he added, that we have historical presence here, which we need to highlight. This is why we organized the presentation of Sona Zeitlian’s most valuable book “Armenians in Egypt” and we are preparing now our own website, which will be in Arabic and English languages.

Karapetian underlined the fact that the Egyptians highly appreciate the Armenian community. “There are few capitals worldwide, outside Armenia, where the Armenians have thrived and left their marks. One of these is Cairo. We have always taken on ourselves the role of bridging and communicating between the East and West. This has been our mission. Why we should ignore this mission?”, he commented.

We have not recognized our potential yet in the region, the Ambassador acknowledged. We have to highlight our role in the region as the only Eastern Christian independent state that has so deep and comprehensive understanding of the Arabs and Muslims, without being a colonial power in the past.

On the other hand Ambassador Karapetian recognizes the need to educate our own citizens on issues such as the Armenian-Arab relations.

On Armenian-Egyptian bilateral level, Karapetian refers to the visit of Prime Minister Antranik Markarian to Egypt, which marked the beginning of a new phase in the relations of the two friendly countries. “We are working on a friendship agreement with Egypt, which will translate the visit into a long-lasting commitment for both sides. Egypt is trying to achieve progress and has done remarkable efforts and needs to find partners in economic development, especially in our region”, he explained.

About other activities in the horizon, Karapetian mentioned the plan of erecting a friendship statue in a main square in Cairo (and a similar one in Yerevan).

With the most sincere manners, Karapetian acknowledged the need to clarify relations with Diaspora, especially in light of the Armenia-Diaspora conference. “We need to clarify our mutual concerns. We need to talk transparently about our issues. We have to point out clearly what we should do and take lessons from the past. We should not pacify ourselves by saying everything is brilliant. This is not the way to progress. Nothing comes easily. The system should develop gradually. After 15 years of independence we can now talk about Armenian diplomacy. All the previous years were years of formation. The coming presidential elections in Armenia (2008) should have great meaning for us as a factor of stability and progress. We need the input of our politically matured population. We have to develop further democracy. Overall progress is needed in the economic and educational spheres, without which nothing could be achieved. Rural areas should be developed. Armenia cannot be concentrated only around the capital Yerevan”. These were some of the challenges the Ambassador mentioned at the end of the conversation.

Bulletin of the Embassy in Arabic language:
Issue no. 1 of “Akhbar Armenia” (News of Armenia)
Issue no. 2 of “Akhbar Armenia” (News of Armenia)

1- Ambassador Dr. Rouben Karapetian.
2- Artak Hovhannisian, Second Secretary of the Embassy.
3- The Building of the Embassy (historically Chakrian family’s property).
4- The Egyptian guard in front of the Embassy.

Note: The visit took place on 07 September 2006

See photos and text at: http://www.azad-hye.net/news/viewnews.asp?newd=244

No comments: