BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Last week, Zareh Sinanyan was on the dais of the Glendale City Council voting on the city’s budget and on Friday he was in Yerevan where he was appointed Armenia’s new High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Sinanyan, who resigned from the Glendale City Council last week ahead of the much-anticipated appointment, met with Pashinyan on Friday and discussed his new position and the importance of elevating Armenia-Diaspora relations.
The Office of the High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs replaced the Diaspora Ministry, which was one of the ministires that were eliminated in an effort to streamline the government. Per the new government structure, Sinanyan will directly report to Pashinyan and will coordinate the outreach to the Diaspora with other ministries.
“We must change our policy towards the Diaspora and make it more effective,” Pashinyan told Sinanyan during the meeting. Pashinyan said that his government aims to increase the Diaspora’s involvement in Armenia’s economic, social and political life.
“You are not an unknown personality in Armenia and the Diaspora, and I think that there is a good chance that we will be able to accomplish our new undertakings in this new era,” added Pashinyan.
“I am grateful and consider assuming this position a great honor. It is also a great responsibility, because as you stated the relations of our homeland, Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora have huge potential,” Sinanyan told Pashinyan.
“The Diaspora promises great potential for Armenia and it should be used in simple and best way, to benefit the homeland. Armenia in its turn is the guarantor of strengthening and enriching the Diaspora in some sense,” explained Sinanyan.
“There are also many problems, and I have no doubt that today’s Armenia is ready to support its compatriots in the Diaspora, like our Diaspora compatriots are ready to support Armenia and Artsakh. Thank you for your faith in me. I will do everything to justify this trust,” added Sinayan.
This week, Sinanyan told me that one of the challenges will be to fill his staff positions with qualified individuals. He explained that as a result of the government streamlining, he will have significantly less staff than the Diaspora Ministry did, an estimated 28 versus the 100-plus the ministry employed.
He added that he was extremely excited about this new opportunity, because he can truly serve the homeland with a keen understanding of the Diaspora and its set of issues and challenges.
Sinanyan told me that he the Armenian-American community was his “home” and he will be looking to key players and all organizations for support as he embarks on his new mission.
With his arrival in Yerevan, Sinanyan is repatriating to his homeland, with his wife and four children to follow suit in the coming months. He told me that he hoped this will serve as an example for other Diasporan Armenians to repatriate to the homeland and take part in its strengthening and advancement.
Nora Hovsepian, the chairwoman of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region also touched on Sinanyan’s immense experience as a Diaspora activist, saying he will bring a unique and well-rounded perspective to his new post
“On behalf of the ANCA-Western Region, I want to congratulate our dear friend Zareh Sinanyan on his new appointment in Armenia. From the days when we served together on the ANCA-Western Region Board, to mobilizing our resources for his successful campaigns for election to public office, to our most recent ANCA-WR legislative trip to Armenia and until today, we have always enjoyed a close and cooperative long-standing relationship and friendship with Zareh,” said Hovsepian.
“Being very familiar with both the Diaspora and the Homeland, Zareh will bring a unique and well-rounded perspective to his new post, and we have no doubt that he will continue to use his abilities and knowledge to advance the Armenian Cause in every facet of his work. We wish him continued success and will continue to maintain our close relationship with him wherever the opportunity for joint projects arises, as he tackles a new and exciting challenge to build constructive bridges between the Homeland and the Diaspora,” added Hovsepian.
Sinanyan, 43, was born in Armenia and emigrated to the United States in 1988. He is fluent in Armenian, English and Russian. He was elected to the Glendale City Council in 2013 and served as mayor for two terms.