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Ruben Vardanyan: The recent war requires to speak openly

Ruben Vardanyan Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

Date: 22.04.2016

Source: Mediamax

Co-founder of Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) foundation, Co-founder of 100 LIVES initiative and Aurora Prize Ruben Vardanyan hopes that the ceremony of Aurora Prize will help the Armenians get a different look at the world.

Ruben Vardanyan said this in an interview to Mark Grigoryan at “Tete-a-tete” program of ATV Channel on April 21.

“It happened so that in the last decades we demanded more from other nations to recognize the Armenian Genocide. In this regard, now is the right moment for such an Award, we not only demand now, but give away something as well. It will give us more strength to achieve our goals.

I hope that our efforts will help understand better that Aurora Prize has a direct connection with Armenians. We want to tell the world that our nation, which survived the Genocide and understands how painful it is, gained so much strength 100 years after that despite many unsolved issues within our nation we are ready to help the world talk about Genocide and award people who save others today,” said Ruben Vardanyan.

Mediamax took a note of ideas he expressed during the interview.

We have no other way but to unite the homeland

We have no other way but to unite the homeland. Two things hold a nation together: pride to be one of that nation and danger that threatens it. The four-day war in April showed that we are proud of our soldiers who stand at the borders and are ready to give their lives for the future of Armenia.

We felt pride for Armenian soldiers and Armenian people. What matters the most is that we realized that we’re the ones to solve our issue, no one will do it for us. We realized that either we unite and change something with our strength and intellect or our pride fades and dissatisfaction transforms, which is very dangerous.

Like a cold shower, this four-day war allows us to unite, understand, talk and make a decision together, without dispute. We should use this chance in full.

It will be hard to built a powerful and proud Armenia without serious changes

Very serious changes are ahead of us. The primary and most important matter is the program for the future of independent Armenia and development of Armenian people.

As a nation, we live in different countries, we have successful communities and people. At the same time, we’ve been independent for 25 years, and a question arises now - what Armenia are we building? What Armenia do we want to build?

The recent war show that without answering these questions and making serious changes, we’ll find it very difficult to built a powerful and proud Armenia.

I don’t live here, but as an Armenian who ties his life with the future of Armenian people I believe that the most important issue we have to solve is what kind of state we want to build and what future we see for Armenia.

Today’s Armenia is living in a closed environment where people succeed through various monopolies, where the interest towards what’s happening in the world is little or superficial.

We aren’t used to being able to solve our issues ourselves, we aren’t used to think like a winner or a strong one. Sadly, our independence began with an earthquake, a war and a blockade, and situation was truly very difficult at that time.

Of course, help is very important, but it has both positive and negative aspects. What assistance from different countries and Diaspora led to is that we didn’t learn to give something, we only ever want to take.

It’s impossible for businessmen from Diaspora and Armenia to work together in the current model. The model we have today doesn’t allow foreigners or Armenians living abroad to come here, start a business in favorable conditions and succeed.

One of the problems is that rules of the game are different for different people. In a non-transparent environment, it’s hard to create an interesting connection between businessmen from Diaspora and Armenia.

The issue is more in the mindset, in how we perceive ourselves. Whether we see Armenia as a country that stays stuck in its problems, or we try to become a place where people can come, invest and work.

By our estimate, USD 500 mln annually should be invested in Armenia for 15 years for our country to get on a new level of development. According to our other estimate, USD 300-500 mln annually goes through Armenian “black economy” or is invested in spheres that don’t provide profitable payback.

Opening the model implies equal rules of the games for everybody, when all should pay taxes. We have a situation today when people don’t pay taxes, do “charity” with a part of unpaid taxes, and people say “what a nice benefactor”.

The recent war makes us speak openly

The April war gave us the opportunity to speak openly, there is no other option. We should call things by their names. We can no longer do things in a “delicate” way.

I’ll bring you an example. “Armenia” airline company is supposed to make a flight today. 51% of this company’s shares belongs to a dentist, and you need at least USD 8-10 mln to open an airline company. A dentist cannot earn that much money in their entire life not only in Armenia, but in any other country. Everyone can see something is amiss, but the company gets all necessary documents and permissions in 2 months. I wonder at Armenia, a country so great that a dentist can open an airline company here in two months.

But if we take it seriously, no joking, it’s a very serious issue. Why does the government allow someone with no proof of financial means to actually found an airline company? This is a matter of public safety first. Obviously, that company will be adjudged bankrupt in six months or a year.

Perhaps, I’m exaggerating, because I’m an emotional man, but the April war didn’t allow us to speak “half-truth”. It doesn’t allow us to refrain from asking, for example, why children of the elite don’t serve.

21st century is our century

We have a great advantage, as I said many times. 21st century is our century, the century of Armenian people. For the first time, wealth is defined not by the amount of land or oil you own, but by the number of smart people you have. That is what matters the most.

We have a chance to use not only the wealth of our country, but the wealth of our people and the ties of our nation. We used it for centuries, - when Armenian businessmen worked in Singapore or France, other nations simply didn’t travel yet.