YEREVAN / OSLO — Sven-Erik Rise is Norwegian expert of Armenia, an author of articles and op-eds about the country and the Armenian genocide in Norway’s national and local newspapers. He also has published two books — Hayastan – Why I love Armenia (in Norwegian and English) and 44 days in Artsakh (in Norwegian). Rise has led numerous public lectures about Armenia for varied audiences. He has also been a tour leader for numerous tour groups from Norway to Armenia. Sven-Erik Rise proudly calls himself an “Armenian-by-choice” and dreams of having an Armenian passport.
So, how shall I call you during our interview – Sven-Erik or Tigran Van?
(Laughing). I am always happy when Armenians call me Tigran, it makes me feel Armenian — or gives me a feeling of Armenians respecting that I can be an Armenian by choice
Perhaps you also have special feelings for Van as I do?
I sure do. I read a lot about the Armenians of Van and the surrounding area. I was fascinated by the resistance of the people of Van when the genocidal Turks attacked Van. Many heroes did everything in their power to fight off the Turks. I am also very interested in the saltwater lake, Akhtamar and, of course, the Armenian Vana katu (Van cat). I know many Armenians, who have their roots in Van, and so I want to contribute that we never forget that this town and this lake were stolen from Armenia – but everybody knows that this area actually belongs to Armenians.
The relations between our countries started already in the 14th century, when in 1313/1314, Cilician Armenian king Oshin sent envoys to Norway with treasures to King Håkon to ask for military assistance. Yet for Armenians Norway is associated with Fridtjof Nansen’s name, whose assistance to Armenian Genocide survivors was tremendous. And now we have Sven-Erik Rise. Why did this pro-Armenian movement started by Nansen not continued in Norway, as Armenia remains unknown for most of Norwegians?