On April 16, 18, and 20, the American University of Armenia (AUA) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Armenia co-hosted a lecture series by eminent historian Dr. Richard Hovannisian to mark the centennial of the First Armenian Republic.
AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian welcomed attendees and introduced Dr. Hovannisian, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles, saying: “There is no scholar in this world who is more qualified to speak about this subject than Professor Richard Hovannisian.” Der Kiureghian also thanked AGBU, represented by Vasken Yacoubian, AGBU Armenia president and an AGBU Central Board member, for sponsoring the lecture series.
These lectures focused on the most critical aspects of the First Republic’s history, including its challenging routes toward independence to elections and foreign policy. During the first lecture titled “May 28: The Uncharted Course Toward Independence,” Dr. Hovannisian presented the conditions during World War I which made the road to independence extremely treacherous.
The focus of the second lecture titled “Creating the Republic’s Infrastructure” was the establishment of the republican form of governance amid internal tensions. Dr. Hovannisian noted that in 1919 the parliamentary elections proportional representation of all citizens and residents of Armenia who were eligible to vote regardless of race, religion and gender. “This is an enormously progressive concept when you remember that many countries still had not given women the right to vote,” Dr. Hovannisian explained. According to Dr. Hovannisian the establishment of the first Armenian university in Alexandrapol, current Gyumri, contributed to the development of the First Republic’s infrastructure. Dr. Hovannisian mentioned that although Armenia had to struggle for its independence, it was also the right time to focus on enlightenment and education of the population.
The concluding lecture titled “Armenia in the International Arena and an Assessment” touched upon such issues as expanding the territory of the small Armenian state, the efforts of Armenian diplomats and Armenophiles to gain support for the republic on five continents. The response of the great powers was critical in that endeavor, and it was a question of whether they would commit the resources necessary to honor their wartime pledges regarding the future of the Armenian people.
“As the world’s largest organization committed to the development and prosperity of all Armenians, AGBU has always been supporting the Armenian statehood, irrespective of the governing system,” said Yacoubian. “The 100th anniversary of the First Armenian Republic is not only a good occasion to celebrate, but it is also an occasion to appreciate, evaluate, and learn lessons from history, to become more powerful and united in the face of current challenges.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.
For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit www.agbu.org