Cultural Center for National Minorities in Yerevan

10/9/2006 9:30:00 PM

Despite the fact that national minorities in Armenia constitute only 3% of the population, Hranush Kharatian, head of the RA Government-affiliated department for national minorities and religious issues, does not agree that our society is mono-ethnic. "This 3% non-Armenians are representatives of diverse nationalities" therefore we are a multiethnic country, she finds. Representatives of other nationalities feel good in Armenia. "We all live in equal conditions in Armenia," Gersh Burstein, chief rabbi of Armenian says. "Thank God there is no ethnic discrimination here, and the government’s efforts for a good life in multiethnic Armenia become apparent with every year."

Another initiative directed to minorities was creation of a cultural center for national minorities by the RA government. Government representatives, ambassadors and minority representatives were present at the opening of the center on October 7. Gagik Gagian, deputy head of RA government’s staff, said that the center could have been opened earlier but "better late than never".

The government has spent around $10,000 for reconstructing two floors of the Central Post Office for the cultural center, which is designed for concerts, celebrations, sessions, working meetings. It also has libraries and rooms for studying national languages. Hranush Kharatian said that the center still needs to be furnished.

Head of the Jewish community said that the opening of the center was one of the key events in the life of Armenia’s minorities. "The center not only unites the cultural field of separate communities but also acts as a new cultural environment for all inhabitants of Armenia. We are hopeful that our Armenian brothers will also take part in the arrangements here," Gersh Burstein told daily Azg.

Representatives of the most different communities were unanimously saying that there is no discrimination in Armenia and that conditions are equal for all. Mrs. Kharatian assured that national minorities in Armenia have the same problems as the other citizens. Plus their own cultural issues. "There are several state-backed Sunday schools, classes of mother tongues, newspapers and radio programs. In general, the state is obliged to grant rights and not to finance directly but our state sometimes finances too," Mrs. Kharatian said.

The most active communities in Armenia are the Russian, Ukrainian, Yezidi, Kurdish, Assyrian and Greek. At the initiative of national minorities, a memorial to the Armenian Genocide and Holocaust will be erected at the crossroad of Terian-Moskovian streets.

Government representatives assured that what is essential is that the minority representatives feel as full-fledged citizens in our country and have the right for national cultures. The center will also help the Armenian society to get to know the culture and national values of the minorities.