BERLIN — The visit of Armenian President Armen Sarkissian to Germany at the end of November may not have received the same international media attention as the G20 summit meeting and escalating political crises in various parts of the world, but it deserves serious consideration, as it signaled a positive step forward in relations with Germany at a time of momentous developments inside Armenia as well as growing challenges in Europe. Issues of mutual concern were discussed, important past achievements were commemorated, steps were taken to deepen relations and concrete joint projects were officially signed.
“Allow me to explain why Armenia is important today. I will concentrate on three points: precise timing, the right place and the right model.” This is how Sarkissian presented the case in a lecture on November 28 at a leading think-tank. Speaking on “Armenia in 2018 and the Region” at the Bertelsmann Foundation, he said in the current period, when “everything is changing with the speed of light,” technology is going through a rapid process of evolution. And the process does not always unfold in a classical manner; this is true not only in the economy but also in politics, he said, as exemplified by the revolution in Armenia. The country has entered the 21st century, not only technologically but also politically, so “the time is right.”
Moving to the geographical factor, the “right place,” Sarkissian stressed the unique position Armenia occupies; it is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), and it also has an agreement with the European Union. As a result, Armenia can function as a “bridge between West and East.” By the same token, it can serve as an important link between North and South, as it enjoys good relations with Georgia and Russia as well as Iran and other countries of the Persian Gulf.
The third factor he developed involves the role of the diaspora. Although Armenia is a small country with a population of three million, there are Armenian communities throughout the world, “well-organized, advanced and successful,” amounting to 12-15 million Armenians in total. As these communities are also involved with developments in the Republic of Armenia, that makes it “a small country but a global nation, which is significant in the 21st century.” Sarkissian made the important point that Armenians wherever they live “should first be good citizens of the country they reside in” because “one cannot help one’s own country if you live in a ghetto.” Only in this way can one develop relations with one’s historical homeland.
Technologies for the Future
At Bertelsmann and throughout his tour, the Armenian president placed special emphasis on the value of the human resources in his country. A young country, with a young population and a young spirit, Armenia is looking to the future. “Keen on new technologies, education, science, especially mathematics and physics, today the country has the most advanced information technology sector in the region,” he said in his lecture at the think-tank. This is where fruitful collaboration can occur.