Prime Minister Introduced to the 2023 Activity Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs

16 May 2024

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs to review the activity report for 2023.

During the meeting, High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan outlined the activities implemented throughout the reporting period. It was emphasized that on June 1, 2023, the Office unveiled the inaugural Repatriation and Integration Center. This facility provides a wide range of individual and group counseling services to repatriates and implements measures to support their integration. Regarding repatriation and integration efforts, the office received and processed 3,617 applications, conducted 13 online and offline counseling sessions for 340 repatriates, offered free Armenian language and integration training courses to 413 repatriates, and facilitated health services for 81 Syrian Armenians under the state order.

The Prime Minister expressed interest in the operations of the Repatriation and Integration Center and its effectiveness. Zareh Sinanyan highlighted that the Center has been offering comprehensive services to repatriates to address various challenges, including assisting with school and kindergarten placements for children, job opportunities, citizenship matters, and customs issues.

It was highlighted that the draft RA law "On Repatriation" has been circulated within the state administration system and is prepared for submission to the National Assembly. In response, Nikol Pashinyan stressed the importance of ensuring that the law addresses the practical challenges encountered by repatriates and integrates all available information. Furthermore, the Prime Minister underscored that the Repatriation and Integration Center has been operating as a concrete mechanism for establishing an information database.

To harness the potential of the Diaspora, foster their engagement with the homeland, and safeguard Armenian interests, the Office orchestrated the National Youth Forum and the Assembly of Armenian Lawyers. These events saw participation from over 600 young individuals from 50 countries, 250 Armenian lawyers from 30 countries, and 150 speakers from 15 countries. When the Prime Minister inquired about preparations preceding the National Youth Forum, for instance, it was explained that its aim was to connect youth representatives with the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs. According to Zareh Sinanyan, investing in young people ensures continuity across all programs and fosters long-term relationships with them.

Nikol Pashinyan emphasized the importance of maintaining contact with individuals and fostering collaboration. Zareh Sinanyan added that the forum's agenda is being developed in consultation with the participants.
The Office also outlined its current projects to the Prime Minister. Between 2022 and 2023, 50 Diaspora Armenian specialists participated in the iGorts program, working across 23 structures of the RA state administration system. Impressively, 72% of the program participants chose to repatriate, securing permanent positions in both state institutions and the private sector. Additionally, these participants collaborated on developing 10 new programs aimed at enhancing various sectors within the Republic of Armenia, spanning the latest technologies, culture, economy, consumer rights protection, human resources management, and other areas.

Referring to the iGorts program, Prime Minister Pashinyan expressed interest in its effectiveness and importance. In response, Zareh Sinanyan mentioned: "Every year we have about 350 applicants for 50 places. Most importantly, we have had an increase in the recruitment of qualified professionals. There are ministries that are very connected with the program, they mostly perceive iGorts as an additional resource."

As a result of cooperation with the Hovnanyan Family Foundation, in 2022-2023, 15 participants of the program had the opportunity to continue working for another year. Additionally, in collaboration with the same foundation, the program was extended to the Shirak province. In 2023-2024, within the framework of the program, 50 Diaspora Armenian high-level specialists were engaged in 19 structures of the RA state administration system.

A 13-day camp program, including Armenian language courses, patriotism lessons, cultural events, and visits, was organized for 600 Diaspora Armenian youth aged 13-18 as part of the Step toward Home program. The camp program took place in Byurakan.

In the 2022-2023 period, 20 young people from 12 countries participated in the Diaspora Youth Ambassador program. They conducted approximately 100 community and repatriation awareness meetings and events, 20 experience-sharing programs, 40 media publications, and other activities. In the 2023-2024 period, 18 Diaspora Armenian youth from 8 countries are participating in the event. The outcomes of their work will be summarized in August 2024.

Additionally, in 2023, the DiasPro professional volunteer program was launched for the first time. The initial phase of the project focused on the fields of health, social issues, human rights protection, economy, and tourism. Interviews were conducted between the RA marzes and various circles of the Yerevan local self-government as part of the program. Following the final selection process, 40 participants commenced their volunteer work.

The process of expanding the Institute of Commissioners for Diaspora Affairs was emphasized, with the Commissioners for Diaspora Affairs appointed in Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Slovakia, Denmark, and Germany. According to Zareh Sinanyan, the appointed commissioners are individuals with significant influence in the community who possess the desire and capability to represent the state within the community. In response, Nikol Pashinyan highlighted the opportunity for Diaspora communities to establish a network for interaction with the Government.

A program to support the implementation of charitable projects from the Diaspora was developed, with the Office of High Commissioner playing a guiding role. Prime Minister Pashinyan stressed the effective and targeted nature of these programs, particularly in terms of implementing them through subsidy programs in collaboration with communities and the Government. He also emphasized the need for program coordination, stating that the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs should serve as a central hub facilitating communication between organizations, the Government, and local self-government bodies.

To underscore the human potential of the Diaspora, map it, and create an information database, data on 25,000 Diaspora Armenian individuals were collected in 2023, with information on 50,000 individuals collected in 2021 being updated. In total, the information database contains details on 100,000 Diaspora Armenian individuals, which is continuously updated.

Research into Diaspora communities continued, with visits made to Armenian communities in 13 countries, totaling 178 meetings.

It was disclosed that a draft strategy on Armenia-Diaspora cooperation for the period 2024-2038 has been developed.

Furthermore, the discussions during the consultation also revolved around the activities of Armenian schools in Diaspora communities. It was highlighted that there are over 800 schools in total, catering to more than 90,000 students. Prime Minister Pashinyan underscored the significance of extending support to Armenian schools, including the provision of essential textbooks.

Սփյուռքի Գլխավոր Հանձնակատարի Գրասենյակ Diaspora High Commissioner's Office