Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Failing to engage with broader Armenian community in London

If you read that during his visit to London president Serj Sargsyan have met with the Armenian community, do not take it as a fact. Quite a few Armenians in London were wondering when and where he is going to have a meeting with them. Well, I have to disappoint them. There will be a meeting, of course, but only with selected VIP ones. Why not have a broader meeting? Why not communicate and listen to the voices of those who may not have millions in their bank accounts but may have something valuable to say and contribute?

And this is not just president’s or his entourage’s fault. It is also a failure of (self-proclaimed) ‘leaders of Armenian community’ in London. Some of them are pretty protective of a circle they’ve created, and wary of letting others to challenge, let alone get in or even collaborate with.

There is such a huge potential in Armenians living or residing in Britain. It’s a relatively small but highly successful community.
ARMENIAN immigrants and their descendants are the most successful ethnic group in the country, according to an analysis of “melting pot” Britain.
It is therefore such a shame for not using this potential. And I am not referring here to using it for propaganda purposes or ‘information wars’, but to facilitate Armenia’s democratic transformation. For now, this aim - the most important, in my opinion, aim - does not seem to be high (or at all) on the list of priorities of those in the community who will be meeting president Sargsyan during his visit in London.

If I were to use Twitter hashtag here, it would be #fail.

* I use the word “community” loosely here, meaning not so much a “group” but PEOPLE.


Anonymous said...

Not necessarily related to your point, but I thought Sargsyan's speech was very strong at Chatham House.

artmika said...

The thing is while Chatham House speech was well written and delivered, it decides nothing. On the other hand, despite pictures, Serj’s visit to London was poorly organised. And I am not even referring here to the points I raised in my post re Armenian community.

When country’s president visits London on what was announced a “working visit”, instead of or along with meeting Queen - which frankly means nothing here in London but provides a good picture back in home - he should have met British PM Gordon Brown. This is a major failure by organisers.

And another failure. Instead of, or along with giving an interview to Al Jazeera, Armenia’s president should have met British press. And the organisers of his visit should have taken care that it gets covered by British media. This is what counts here in London. Instead, his visit passed completely unnoticed.

Onnik Krikorian said...

As someone who has tried to set up interviews with Sargsyan for major international TV companies, part of the problem might be that his press team expect more than many can agree to.

For example, when requesting interviews, his press secretary wants assurances that the entire interview is broadcast which not many can actually promise in advance.

Hopefully this situation will change and Sargsyan will be more open for interviews by the international media. Just one thing about Al Jazeera English, though. They love it here.

Even in English, in Armenia and especially Nagorno Karabakh they see it and UAE-based English-language papers such as The National as a way to influence opinion in the Moslem world.

In the case of Armenia-Turkey relations this might have been one goal.