On June 17-23, Marseille hosted “The French-Armenian Excellence Week” organized by the RA Ministry of Diaspora, the Embassy of RA in France and “Terre d’Armenie”. Within the celebrations, on June 20, the Mayor of Marseille Jean-Claude Gaudin awarded Charles Aznavour with the title of “Honorary Citizen of Marseilles” and the President of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur awarded him with the Medal of the Senate and the Province. Armenian and French officials and guests participated at the event. Two companies “Kilikia” and “Synopsys Armenia” were invited from Armenia, as examples of successful companies. We spoke with the Director of Synopsys Armenia HOVIK MUSAYELYAN abut the event.
You had interesting meetings during one week in Marseille, including a meeting with Charles Aznavour, Henry Verneuil’s children, the Minister of Economy of Romania, who is Armenian. Would you share your experience with us?
“The French-Armenian Excellence Week” was really fascinating. About two months ago, when I received an invitation from the RA Minister of Diaspora, Hranush Hakobyan to take part in this event, which by the way was to include representatives of culture, Diaspora, technological industries, and chamber of commerce, honestly, I couldn’t quite put together the entire picture. Two companies were invited from Armenia – “Kilikia” as a local company and “Synopsys Armenia” as a successful example of a foreign company. Indeed, it turned out to be a very interesting and impressive event.
One of the most memorable moments was when the Mayor of Marseille awarded Charles Aznavour with the title of Honorary Citizen of Marseille, because, as the Mayor said, the last time this title was awarded in 1947. Imagine how special this award is. Opening of the square named after Henry Verneuil was also interesting. His four children were present at the event, and the exhibition on his masterpiece “Mayrig” was held at the same time showcasing the actors’ costumes and cameras the movie was shot with.
One of the main actors Omar Shariff was also invited. Armenia was represented by the film “Nzhdeh” and the actor who played young Nzhdeh was also invited. Other than “Synopsys Armenia” and “Kilikia” representatives, the officials from Lori and Gegharqunik regions were invited from Armenia. They did presentations on a social-economic situation in their regions, talking about their challenges and opportunities, as well as on viability of creating touristic centers in their regions.
Would you please tell us a little the Third Forum of Armenian Chambers of Commerce that took place during those days?
Yes, the forum was organized by representatives of “The Armenian Trade Network” and the Ministry of Diaspora. The Ambassador of Armenia in France, Vigen Chitechyan also took an active part in organizing the event and spent time with us during all those days. In general, we discussed success stories during the forum. One of our main goals was to try and inspire our Diasporian compatriots by showing them that although today we have major problems in Armenia such as migration, moral and psychological unfavorable conditions, we nevertheless don’t see everything in black colors as it might seem from afar. Recently, many people who leave Armenia like to tarnish the country to justify their leaving the country, and often Diaspora Armenians cannot get a real picture. They feel disoriented and can’t clearly decide on what to do. Our aim was to present the situation objectively and indicate the good and positive aspects in Armenia.
You had a number of presentations. What exactly did you present?
I had three presentations. One of them was about IT development in Armenia as a whole. It mentioned that we had a 25% increase, and that this sector is a dynamically growing sector is Armenia, and what IT companies we have operating in Armenia today. The second presentation was about Synopsys Armenia, as one of the best examples of foreign investments in Armenia. And the third presentation on discovering and inspiring the talented young generation of Armenians got a lot of attention and positive feedback. After the presentations people kept approaching me and offering their willingness to support, they didn’t know about such programs in Armenia.
My presentation was constructed in the following logic: Armenia is the only country where, for example, chess is a mandatory subject in schools and it encourages a logical thinking in children. Then I spoke about robotics clubs which opened in the Armenian schools recently. In this regard, I have mentioned that individuals can support one of the clubs in our schools. According to the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) of Armenia, to maintain such a club will cost about 2,500 US dollars, so I called the participants to support such clubs in schools of their choice. I touched upon the issue that upset some people, namely that many people initiate reconstruction works in schools with a condition that the school will be renamed after their father or mother, otherwise they refuse to support it. Instead, they can make a significant investment in encouraging our young talents.
I also spoke about “Tumo” Center of Creative Technologies, where children get a chance to learn different technologies, Dilijan International School that is under construction, “Ayb” school and other schools of physics and mathematics which train human capital in Armenia. I spoke about the Presidential Educational Award which is awarded to the best schoolchildren and students, the success stories of our children in regional and other Olympiads, as well as “Luys” Foundation, which helps our talented young people to get education in the world’s most prestigious universities.
You said that initially people had negative information about Armenia, but later the mood changed.
Meeting Diaspora representatives was really important. I’ve got an impression that by the end of the event people were more inspired than in the beginning because nobody could imagine what was going to happen and how. There were lots of issues to discuss and but with every day people grew more and more excited. I was truly impressed by the power of Armenian community in Marseille and the authority they have in state municipal institutions. Namely, the Vice-Mayor of Marseille Didier Parakyan is a person of great influence there. Another head of Marseille community is an Armenian by origin, etc. Among Marseille Armenians I met people who were full of affection towards Armenia and expressed willingness to support their Motherland.
They were so happy to host this event in Marseille. I felt that during that week people in Marseille sympathized Armenia and everything Armenian, I saw people smiling when they realized we were Armenians. Naturally, when they saw Armenians they were talking about Charlez Aznavour, as his authority and popularity was boundless. When Charlez Aznavour arrived in Marseille and entered the Municipal House people blocked the entire area where Armenians and French people gathered and everybody was trying to get closer to Aznavour.
I have to say I was very impressed by the work done by the RA Minister of Diaspora. You could see that Diasporan Armenians were treating the Minister with utmost respect. Each year hundreds of events take place for strengthening Armenia-Diaspora ties, such as business-forums, workshops and seminars. I am sure that the forum was very productive. Varuzhan Voskanyan, the Minister of Economy of Romania, was also present at the forum. He is a very bright person, and he made a presentation of his book. In the upcoming days Armenia will host the Armenian-Romanian business-forum.
Inspired by people’s enthusiasm in Marseille some participants decided to start negotiations on launching the 4th forum of “The Armenian Trade Network” and a number of charitable exhibitions. I believe that this is the beginning. For example, in Monaco they want to organize an exhibition of Armenian painters. I will cherish warm memories from Marseille’s trip. This has to go on a continuous basis because today we need to keep our compatriots inspired. You will hardly find a naïve person today, either in Armenia or abroad, whom you cannot deceive or lie to. Everybody is well-informed about everything. Still we have examples we must showcase otherwise it will negatively impact our future. If people don’t believe that there are very interesting programs and success stories in Armenia they won’t be motivated enough to bind their future to Armenia.
Translated from 168 hours