On November 26, 2016, the “Western Armenian language in Armenia: Challenges, Prospects” conference took place in Yerevan. The conference was organized by the Youth Council of the Aleppo NGO with the support from the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia and the Armenian General Benevolent Union.
The conference aimed at finding solutions for preservation and development issues of the Western Armenian language in Armenia.
Ani Balkhian, the founding president of the Aleppo NGO welcomed the participants of the conference in her opening speech, noting that with the relocation of the bearers of the Western Armenian culture to Armenia in the recent years, a subject platform was created in the country, which contributed to the strengthening of the Western Armenian language in Armenia. This platform forces to undertake urgent steps directed at preserving, spreading and using the Western Armenian language, which is considered to be one of the world’s endangered languages. Thus, as the first step, the conference aims to turn Armenia into linguistic homeland for Western Armenian and, following the example of the Melkonian Educational Institute of Cyprus, to establish a daily school where pupils will be taught in Western Armenian. The school will become an educational center for Syrian Armenians settled in Armenia and will inspire diasporan Armenian youth to come and study in their homeland.
In his turn, the Head of International Relations and Diaspora Department at Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia Arthur Ghazaryan welcomed the guests and the participants of the conference on behalf of the Minister of the Education and Science of RA Levon Mkrtchyan, welcoming and congratulating the Aleppo NGO on this initiative, which can become an effective platform for exchange of opinions and raising of new questions regarding the Western Armenian language.
Arthur Ghazaryan noted that the role of the Western Armenian language has changed significantly with the resettlement of the Syrian Armenians in Armenia. And the language issue is perceived as independent and not identifiable with national identity issues, which requires practical steps, such as Western Armenian language classes in schools.
In his welcoming speech, the AGBU Armenia Interim Director Hovig Eordekian highlighted the importance of the initiative of the Youth Council of the Aleppo NGO and expressed AGBU Armenia’s support for the organization of the conference.
The conference consisted of two sessions. Among speakers were renowned linguists, Armenologists, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Doctor of History and a teacher of Western Armenian language Hakob Cholakian presented the issues of rapprochement of the Easter and Western Armenian languages; director of the Institute of Language after R. Acharyan of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia Victor Katvalyan talked about the use of the Western Armenian language in the science research field; philologist Mihran Minasyan and the first secretary of the Writers’ Union of Armenia Petros Demirchyan discussed the role of the Western Armenian in the publishing field in Armenia; philologist Ani Zeytuntsyan and the student of the Institute for Armenian Studies of Yerevan State University Avetis Aposhyan presented the branches of the Armenian language; the founder of the “Spyurk” educational center of the Yerevan State Pedagogical University, doctor of philology Suren Danielyan talked about the role of the Western Armenian language in the educational system of Armenia; poet and publicist, founder and editor-in-chief of the “Arevelk” newspaper Sako Arian discussed the role of the Western Armenian in the media; the role of the Western Armenian in TV and radio in Armenia was presented by Vako Armeno.
During the conference, professor of the Chair of Armenian Language of the Yerevan State University, doctor Ruben Sakapetoyan introduced the experience of the Yerevan State University in teaching Western Armenian, while the use of the Western Armenian language in the Digital Library of Classical Armenian Literature of the American University of Armenia was presented by the program’s scientific director Merujan Karapetyan. Zepyur Ghblikian Tamerian introduced the Western Armenian language online courses within the framework of the AGBU Virtual College and Azniv Stepanyan presented the Western Armenian section of the Wikipedia free encyclopedia.
The sessions of the conference were conducted by the members of the Youth Council of the Aleppo NGO Tigran Gapoian and Avetis Aposhian. Participants of the conference had the opportunity to address their questions to the speakers and express opinions and suggestions on issues raised during the presentations.
At the end of the conference, representative of the Executive board of the Aleppo NGO, philologist Ani Zeytuntsian presented a resolution based on the issues and suggestions raised during the conference, which, in particular, suggests to include Western Armenian language in the programs of public educational institutions, to encourage acceptance of theses written on Western Armenian in universities. In order to facilitate the use of Western Armenian language, the resolution suggests to create online tools, including a proofreader; periodically organize conferences that will contribute to the preservation, use and spreading of the Western Armenian language.
In the resolution, the Aleppo NGO, as the organizer of the conference, expresses its readiness to cooperate with relevant governmental and private institutions in Armenia for the benefit of the preservation and use of the Western Armenian language in Armenia.
Organized by the initiative of the Youth Council of the Aleppo CCO, the “Western Armenian language in Armenia: Challenges, Prospects” conference brought together those individuals who are interested in the ongoing issues faced by the Western Armenian language and who devoted their life to the preservation and use of the Western Armenian, becoming an effective platform for discussions, recommendations and for finding solutions.