Author Archives: SimonVratsian



The true story of Israel Ori’s life and activities

Ararat M. Hakobyan

The outstanding figure of the Armenian liberation movement and struggle of the late 17th and early 18th centuries – Israel Ori, with his selfless, but contradictory, sometimes adventurous life and activities, is considered the firstborn (herald) and initiator of the Russian political orientation of the Armenian people. On his way from the West to Russia, he sometimes resorted to falsification of documents in order to arouse the interest of Russian political leaders and encourage them towards the issue of the liberation of Armenia. Documentary records of his Western Russian political, negotiating, diplomatic activities, two “Palatinate” and “Moscow” plans for the liberation of Armenia, although unrealistic for the time, are considered an innovation in the history of the Armenian political thought. He was the first figure who brought the Armenian liberation movement and diplomatic negotiations out of the religious-confessional level (diaper) of the clergy and put them on the military[1]political foundations of a practical, secular content.

The ultimate goal of the liberating ideas of I. Ori was the complete liberation of Armenia from the Persian-Turkish tyranny and the creation of an autonomous Armenian statehood (kingdom) initially under the auspices of the Western European powers, and then of Russia, as evidenced by the two programs he drew up, as well as the map of Great Armenia presented to Tsar Peter.

A valuable documentary collection compiled by philologist, historian K. Yezyan, and other supporting materials enable us to conclude that the beginning of the Russian orientation of the Armenians is considered not the second half of the 17th century and not even the turn of the 18th century, but the 1720s, i. e.: the time when in anticipation of the so-called Caspian campaign of Peter the Great, the liberation struggle of Artsakh and Syunik flared up.

All this means that the Russian political orientation of the Armenian people has a history of three centuries. But this does not mean that the Armenians unanimously stood on the positions of this orientation. Historiographical objectivity requires noting that due to the dictates of the times and circumstances, especially at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, in particular, during the discussion of the Armenian issue, the Armenian socio-political circles mainly and involuntarily represented other – Western orientations, but in both cases did not achieve significant positive results.

At the same time, it should be noted that there is no need to put a big barrier in the issue of the Western European and consequently Russian political orientation of the Armenian people, since already Russia of Peter the Great with its system of political, state-legal and cultural values aspired to become a European country. And as for the liberation of Armenia, in practical terms it was closer to Armenia, and the latter’s liberation by Russia was more realistic. In other words, if we compare and evaluate the missions of the two political directions of Israel Ori, then from the viewpoint of civilizational orientation, in a broad sense it can be considered European-Russia.

A comparative analysis of documentary materials and historical-political events of the region indicates that during the era of Israel Ori, Armenia still had no real prospect of practical liberation with the support of foreign forces, neither by Russia nor, even more so, by Western countries. In the era of Israel Ori, the Armenian people had not yet developed an indestructible political concept that in order to have a free, independent national state and protect it, one should first of all rely on the collective consciousness of the nation, on its own strengths and capabilities. And from the perspective of learning advisable historical lessons, even now, during the Third Republic, in the conditions of modern serious challenges, it is difficult to say how irreversible the political mentality and the way of actions of the Armenian public and the state power have become among us regarding the independent statehood and defense of the Motherland



Jürgen Gispert, Armenien gestern und heute – „Die Aschen der Opfer schlagen in unseren Herzen“. Zu einer Theorie der armenischen Memorialkultur, Leipzig, Eudora-Verlag, 2022, 492 S

Ashot N. Hayruni

A new extensive and valuable monograph (492 pp.) published in Leipzig titled “Armenia yesterday and today – ‘The Remains of the Victims Beat in Our Hearts’. On a theory of the Armenian Memory Culture” by the German ethnographer and Armenologist Dr. Jürgen Gispert provides the German-speaking reader with comprehensive information about the spiritual and cultural values of the Armenian people, their past and the present, including the contemporary challenges they are facing with, the overcoming of which is paramount for the preservation of the Armenian state and national identity.

The book begins with the coverage of the events that took place in the recent years, particularly after the “Velvet Revolution” and the previous realities, which, by continuously deepening the gap between the people and the authorities, ultimately culminated in the change of power. In particular, the author focuses on the irregularities, vote rigging and fraud that took place during the election process during the history of the Third Republic, the difficult social situation of the republic’s population and the lack of trust in the public sphere towards the socio-economic policy of the authorities, as well as the various realities that undermined the former intra-societal unity, including the influx of individual sects from the West after the collapse of the USSR and their divisive activities.

Afterwards, the author reflects upon the Armenian History, by outlining essential events from pre-historic, ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary Armenian history, especially focusing on those important events that shaped the course of history. The reader is thoroughly familiarized with the Armenian Genocide and its consequences. Detailed information is given about Armenian khachkars and Armenian culture in general. The systematic destruction of Jugha khachkars by the Azerbaijani authorities around 20 years ago is also outlined. Such criminal systematic destruction, as Gispert points out, had not even taken place during the invasions of Shah Abbas and Tamerlane. Further expanding on this subject, the author presents many facts about the course of events and consequences of Azerbaijan’s current anti-Armenian policy. The massacres of Sumagait and Baku, the destruction and usurpation of Armenian culture in the occupied regions of Artsakh are covered thoroughly and are presented in a new light, as a consistent continuation of the Turkish-Azerbaijani genocidal policy.

The author covers in detail the history of the emergence of the Artsakh question, thoroughly refuting the false theses as presented by the Azeri government that Artsakh supposedly belongs to Azerbaijan. At the same time, the author presents a detailed study of the history of Azerbaijan and the emergence of the Azerbaijanis as an ethnic group, which takes place only after 1918. The author juxtaposes the above fact of the newly emerged Azeri state and ethnicity with the reality of a thousand-year history of Armenian Artsakh, pointing out that Azerbaijan from the viewpoint of historic rights, as well as from the standpoint of modern international law has no legitimate right to claim Artsakh as its own.

The above noted monumental study by Gispert has not only academic, but also political value taking into consideration the fact of how much efforts and material resources are spent by Azerbaijan and Turkey to create a distorted public opinion in the West about Armenian heritage, culture and identity. The work contains, apart from the text itself, many valuable maps and photographs. We really hope that patrons would be found who would sponsor the translation and publication of this valuable work in Armenian, English and other languages.



A Comparative Analysis of the Positions of the Global and Regional Actors towards the Second Artsakh War

Lilit V. Dallakyan

The article attempts to identify the causes of the Second Artsakh war, the framework of the potential winners, as well as the obvious losers. Attention is particularly paid to the consequences of the war, the new challenges Armenia is facing, as well as the potential opportunities that have opened up for Armenia. New strategic directions of development are presented; the urgent questions requiring making decisions in external and integral policy, goals and direction of possible diversification in foreign policy are being discussed.

In the new geopolitical situation Armenia is facing new challenges and at the same time is getting new opportunities. If after the Second Artsakh war Armenia found itself squeezed between Russian-Turkish power and decisions were imposed on Yerevan, including over the Zangezur corridor, then with the change of the president in the United States and the escalation of the Russian-American conflict in Ukraine, Armenia had a chance to maneuver. It is already clear that the Ukrainian crisis is part of a large game that began with Putin’s famous Munich speech and the goal of which was to change the centers of power in the geopolitical scene. At the same time, it is obvious that the US has begun to show interest in traditionally Russian spheres of influence. Today, the West, in particular the United States and France, are active not only in Armenian-Azerbaijani, but also in Armenian-Turkish relations, and activated their efforts within the framework of the Minsk Group.

The second Artsakh war showed that for 30 years Armenia did not succeed in either domestic or foreign policy, has no allies in the international arena, did not use the potential of the army without transforming and modernizing it. It is vital for the RA to modernize the army, create a competitive economy, deepen relations with the Diaspora and use its financial, intellectual and lobbying potential, including concerning Armenian question and legitimize the demands of Armenia.

Today, more than ever, the time has come for making important decisions for the country and for changes in strategic thinking, and delay in making these decisions can lead to irreversible consequences and be destructive for the Armenian statehood.



To the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nikol Aghbalyan

Lusine A. Avetisyan

The philological and linguistic heritage of the literary critic, teacher, public figure, ideologist Nikol Aghbalyan has almost gone unnoticed by researchers. However, the serious observations and the fundamental results achieved through the peculiar research methodology conducted by this great Armenologist are of utmost importance not only to linguistics and Armenology but can be very useful for new discoveries in the fields of philosophy of language, philosophy and psychology of the nation, for cultural studies and many other scientific branches.

This introductory article presents Nikol Aghbalyan in several essays: as a linguist, as one of the pioneers of comparative linguistics and a dissenting and zealous Armenologist.

The article reflects upon at the prehistory of Aghbalyan’s linguistic studies, shows his attitude to Indo-European studies, and the completely new theory proposed by him, in his own assessment – some of his conclusions, one of which is that the Armenians did not become Armenians as a result of assimilation, but the Armenian language is the same Urartian, only heavily modified. And the Urartian is also an Indo-European language (emphasis by L. A.).

In his articles, he thoroughly studied the phonetics of the Armenian language, dialect stress and due to that the historical phonetic changes, that resulted in the dialect variants with which the language was supplemented during the formation of the nation from different Armenian tribes acquiring words with different meaning, but of the same origin, such as the words “grain” and “bread”.

Particular attention was paid to simple and compound sounds, the examples entirely showed that there are old and relatively new sounds in the language, and that the latter appeared as a result of the synthesis of two simple sounds, which, due to the reduction of a vowel between them, turned out to be next to each other.

A large and important part of Agbalyan’s scientific works are his etymological articles, which not only supplement the research and hypotheses of other linguists, but also often object to them and substantiate their own remarks with new conclusions.



“Whoever Has Ears to Hear, Let Them Listen”

Diana H. Hambardzumyan

The main topic of the present article “Hrant Matevosyan’s Yesterday’s View And Our Today” (“Whoever Has Ears to Hear, Let Them Listen”) is a retrospective study of Hrant Matevosyan’s collection I Am Who I Am that includes the writer’s interviews given over more than two decades before his death.

The article aims at examining and summarizing all the difficulties and hindrances having risen before our nation during the previous three decades that Hr. Matevosyan had fairly and sincerely emphasized in his interviews. In a loving and caring tone talking about our country’s yesterday and today, even tomorrow, he revealed and analyzed our shortcomings, searched for the ways of restoring the security, the prosperous and progressive reality we once had. Based on the comprehensive examination of the direct text said by Hr. Matevosyan, this paper unearths the essence of his thoughts in a broader context of our country and the whole world at present.

We need to conclude: “Times are in the habit of not only following each other but repeating each other as well, and in all of this truth, what is disgraceful to all of us – to rational creatures, is not so much the eye[1]popping predictability of the repetition, as our abject insistence on not learning a lesson from all kinds of repeated tragedies of all times, as our failing laziness of not avoiding the repetition, more than that – as our short[1]minded improvidence or foolish inability of not being able to bend the repetitive to our advantage.”



Part II: Solar Eclipse, Sea Storm

Arsen E. Harutyunyan

Some evidence on solar eclipse and sea storm, in particular about shipwrecks, drownings and other similar cases are preserved in Armenian epigraphy. The literary figures and researchers have often referred to the phenomenon of solar and lunar eclipses in cosmological and book-keeping literature. It was also reflected in mythology and folklore. The epigraphic mentions about this phenomenon are preserved in the epigraphs of the pedestal of wall placed khachkar (cross-stone) of Kosh (erected in 1195), on the back side of khachkar located not far from Arakelots (Apostles) Monastery (in 1267), as well as on the memorial of “Tsak Khach” (Hole Cross) of Ashtarak (in 1268).

As for the cases of shipwreck and drown caused by the sea storm, besides in the literary sources, particularly the evidence kept in the colophons of manuscripts, remarkable episodes have been preserved in epigraphs, too. Among them is noteworthy the epitaph dated back to 1141, which is preserved in the cemetery of Vardenik village of Gegharkunik province of Armenia. According to the epitaph, Avtandil, the son of Avan, entered a boat with grass-woven slippers and drowned due to the storm of the sea (in this case: lake Sevan). Another epigraphic evidence is known from Jerusalem. An inscribed stone dated 1724 is placed on the northern wall of St. Gregory the Illuminator church built on the eastern part of the Holy Sepulchre temple. According to the content of the inscription, the ship of pilgrims en route from Constantinople to Jerusalem had sank, as a result of which more than three hundred pilgrims (more than two hundred Armenians, more than a hundred Greeks, several Turkish sailors) were drowned. This terrible case is evidenced in the colophon of a contemporary manuscript, too (M 616/B), whose scribe Deacon Martiros Karbetsi miraculously survived from the same disaster.



Davit S. Gyurjinyan

To designate the concept of the “French language” in Armenian, words formed on the basis of the names of the tribes that took part in the formation of the French people (Franks, Gauls), the names of the country and nation (France, French) and their variants were used. There were a number of language names in use with different variants: ֆռանկերէն / ֆռանգերէն / փռանկերէն “Language of the Franks (French people)”, ֆրանցուզերեն / ֆռանցուզերեն “French language”, գաղղիերէն / գալլիերէն, գաղղիարէն / գալլիարէն “language of the inhabitants of Gaul (France)”, ֆրանսիարէն “language of France”, currently both versions of the Armenian language adopted a single name – ֆրանսերեն “French language”.

Variants of the name of the language differ in phonetic and derivational features: double sounds (գաղղիերէն / գալլիերէն), various sounds at the beginning and in the middle of the word (ֆռանկերէն / փռանկերէն, ֆրանցուզերեն / ֆռանցուզերեն), variable suffixes – արէն / -երէն, denoting “language” (գաղղիարէն / գաղղիերէն), lexical foundations: ֆռանկերէն (Frank), գաղղիերէն (Gaul), ֆրանսերեն (Frank), etc. Most of the options have a pan-Armenian character.

փռանկերէն, ֆրանցուզերեն / ֆռանցուզերեն), variable suffixes – արէն / -երէն, denoting “language” (գաղղիարէն / գաղղիերէն), lexical foundations: ֆռանկերէն (Frank), գաղղիերէն (Gaul), ֆրանսերեն (Frank), etc. Most of the options have a pan-Armenian character. In the 19th century, by analogy with the corresponding structures of the Armenian language of the 5th century, synonymous phrases were created that were used in parallel with lexical names: գաղղիական / գալլիական բարբառ / լեզու “Gallic/Gaulish speech (language)”, փռանկաց / փռանկական լեզու “Frank language, language of Franks”.

The chronology of the use of variants presents the following picture: the last quarter of the 16th century – ֆռանկերէն (the first Armenian name of the French language), 1611 – ֆռանգերէն, the middle of the 19th century – փռանկական լեզու (in the Western Armenian), ֆրանսիարէն, ֆրանցուզերեն (in the Eastern Armenian), the last quarter of the 19th century – before the 20th century – փռանկերէն. Now the variability of the Armenian name of the French language has been eliminated.

From the Middle Armenian ֆռանկերէն to the modern French ֆրանսերեն, it has been a centuries-old process of finding an acceptable name for the French language, its adoption and standardization



Suren D. Danielyan

The article examines the drama “On the Way to the Heaven” (1936) by Hakob Oshakan, which shows national-political theme and together with dramas “When we know to die” and “Stephannos Syunetsi” completes the author’s perceptions regarding the historical and moral questions. In particular, the relationship between Oshakan’s drama and other genres, such as short stories and novels, the experience of a new genre matter is emphasized.

This five-act drama, which with its genre features appeals to mystery of tragedy, was first published in 1936 in Boston’s “Hairenik” weekly, and half a century later in Beirut, edited by Archbishop Varoujan Hergelian, with the preface of Elo Sarajian’s “On the Occasion of Publication”.

The material of the drama “On the Way to the Heaven” suggests the immediate beginning of the1915 genocide and the elimination. The article presents the peculiarities of Oshakan’s character formation through Armenian (Knar, Ter Nersess, protestant priests), German (von Elena Adler, Rita) and Turkish characters (Khalil, Ibrahim) and their various conflicts, where each of them is positioned according to its national inclinations and interests. Regardless of the efforts made by the author to show the development of the character in case of Khalil, a Turk with a European education, he remains convinced that the same education will not help him to get rid of his instincts. Along with the national questions, the scenes of the women collision are alos presented with the aim at keeping the intrigue of the drama awake.

The Armenian Knar stands out among the characters, which is the focus of the intrigue mentioned above. She was a developed, struggling, powerful, often lonely woman who used the pasha’s position to rescue caravans sentenced to death. She comes out at the same time against the German, Turkish atrocities and self-defense Armenian clergy, sometimes with open flags of struggle.

The wording of the article is considering the system of approaches and judgment of Elo Sarajian, Krikor Beledian and himself Hakob Oshakan.

The conclusion is, that Hakob Oshakan’s drama “On the way to the Heaven”, the title of which suggests the way of Armenians’ elimination and death of people, preserves emotion, psychological completeness of the characters. And the multiplicity of these characters is a sign of special styling in itself.



Ashot A. Melkonyan

In the last decades of the 19th century the majority of the Armenian national-political organizations considered the liberation of Western Armenians as their priority within the framework of the Article 61 of the Berlin Congress of 1878. The Hnchakyan party, established in Geneva in 1887, in parallel with the liberation of Western Armenia from the Ottoman yoke, in their program adopted in1888 set a goal of achieving the freedom of the Armenians living under the rule of Russia and Persia, by creating a single liberal-democratic (Ramkapet) republic.

The analyses of the numerous program documents of the Hnchakyans, and especially the articles published in the “Hnchak” newspaper, as well as the study of the practical steps of the party, testify that the leaders of the party had a thorough understanding of the difficulties regarding the liberation of Western Armenia and achieving the distant goal of creating a socialist society. They perceived the idea of Armenia’s autonomy in the context of state independence.

The evasive behavior of the “Young Turks” in issues vital to the peoples of the empire forced many to refuse close cooperation with them. Moreover, while the bloody regime of Sultan Hamid II was in power, according to many Hnchaks, the idea of an independent Armenia should not have been removed from the agenda.

Although the distrust towards the Young Turks was great, the Hnchak party, after 1908 actually bypassed the program provision about creating of a unified Armenian state in the distant future and continued to adhere to the position of preserving the unity of the Ottoman Empire. However, starting from 1912 on the days of the Balkan war, the relations between the Hnchaks and the Young Turks were interrupted.

On June 15, 1915, during the First World War, 20 famous figures from the Hnchakyans party were hanged in Constantinople by the Turkish authorities on charges of intentions to create independent, autonomous Armenia and to alienate part of the imperial lands.

The Hnchak party warmly welcomed the proclamation of the Republic of Armenia at the end of May in 1918. As it is known, the attitude of the Hnchaks towards Soviet Armenia was never hostile. Regardless of the political system, they continued to perceive the Armenian SSR as their homeland, and its status in the Soviet Union as a national-autonomous state entity.