Interview with His Excellency Tigran Balayan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia

Dominique Ender

Good afternoon! I am Dominique Ender, Chief Operations Officer at Frank Creations and intern at the Armenian Embassy. I am here with His Excellency, Mr. Balayan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We are here to discuss Armenia’s National Day which is coming up this Monday, the 21st of September. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your country’s 29th Independence Day!

Would you mind telling us a a bit about the history of your National Day? And the significance of it?

Ambassador Balayan: The 21st of September is the day of the Referendum of Independence that took place in 1991, right before the crash of the Soviet Union. It was the restoration of independence after we lost it in 1920. The Referendum of Independence was the logical continuation of a Declaration of Independence which was adopted on the 23 rd of August 1990. As a final step after the independence, we have the Referendum. Both of those days are personal, remarkable days for me because my father, who is a member of Parliament, was amongst those who authored the Declaration of Independence, and then (as a member of Parliament) paved the way for independent statehood. This created the structure of a completely independent state.

Another significant day is the 28th of May, the Republic Day, where we celebrate the restoration of independence of Armenia in 1918, after the crash of the Russian Empire. That is also the day where, after almost 600 years of absence of statehood, we were finally able to restore it.

How is this day usually celebrated in Armenia? And who heads the celebration?

Ambassador Balayan: With great, huge festivities which include fireworks, concerts, and

receptions in all corners of the country, not just in Yerevan. All the centers of villages are filled with as many people as possible. The towns host sports competitions, children competitions, and as I have mentioned before, concerts. It is celebrated a lot in Armenia because we cherish our independence and are proud we have an independent country. We want to build on that achievement and create the conditions for the prosperity of our population, which makes each and every member of our population want to participate in the celebration. The head of state is the President and its an unwritten rule that high level officials must always be in Armenia on that day to attend the celebrations, because it is a sense of respect towards the statehood that on an important day such as the Independence Day, you stay in your country.

I have noticed that many embassies have celebrations for their country’s National Day. How is it celebrated here in the Embassy in The Hague usually?

Ambassador Balayan: Last year, we organized a concert of a world-renowned violinist, Sergey Khachatryan, and a pianist, Lusine Khachatryan, at the Theater Diligentia. We also had a reception in Diligentia, with all the halls reaching maximum capacity, which was attended by the President of Parliament of Armenia and the President of the Senate of the Netherlands, among other important individuals. We had about 400 guests and I was informed by the seasoned diplomats and ambassadors that this was the first ever event that they attended that a reception was served before and after a concert. With the event filled with all the Armenian snacks, food, wine, and cognac, we had a great celebration.

With COVID 19 in mind, there have been many countries cancelling events due to the virus. How will it be celebrated in Armenia and here with COVID 19 being around?

Ambassador Balayan: This year we had many plans for celebrations throughout all parts of the Netherlands, but due to this unfortunate situation with Corona, we had given up all the

preparations. Most probably we are thinking about organising an online concert, but it is not

fully decided yet since I prefer physical concerts and interaction more. In Armenia, the

celebrations will be very restricted, with minimal participation of the Armenian people. There

will, for sure, not be large festivities like the years prior. We are trying to obey the rules of the

current situation.

In your opinion, how will future Independence Day celebrations look like?

Ambassador Balayan: We have to return to the previous experience of celebrating the National Days in our best traditions, with concerts, receptions, and exhibitions. Next year we are going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Armenian independence, and in my head, I have many plans of organizing a spectacular concert and exhibition. I would also like to invite a big dance group from Armenia, which was originally planned for this year. We will have to see how this Corona situation develops; I hope by next year we will have many more opportunities to get together in big groups again.

Wonderful! Thank you so much and I hope you have a wonderful National Day this year!

Ambassador Balayan: Thank you, as always!

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