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Artak Beglaryan. An interview at the AGBU Alumni Spotlight
21/11/2013Կրթություն և գիտություն, Հարցազրույցներ և ելույթներ
I gave an interview to the AGBU Alumni Spotlight as its international scholarship recipient.
“AGBU is one of the biggest organizations of our nation, not only in size but also in terms of its work for the preservation of our culture and national values. For me, the two main pillars of the diaspora are AGBU and the church.” –Artak
Bio: Artak Beglaryan has served as assistant to Arayik Harutyunyan, the Prime Minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), since August 2012. Before joining Mr. Harutyunyan’s staff, he studied at the University College London (UCL) with support from the AGBU Scholarship Program, which awarded him an International Scholarship through the AGBU London Trust. In 2012, Beglaryan received his master’s degree in Politics, Security and Integration from UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, one of the world’s leading specialist institutions.
Beglaryan added UCL to the long and growing list of top-ranking universities where he has enrolled. He recently attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston, where he focused on Public Policy and Administration; he has completed an American Studies course at Charles University in Prague and a Conflict Studies course at Yerevan State University; and he has studied Political Science at Yerevan State University.
At the age of six, Beglaryan was blinded by a landmine explosion outside his family’s Stepanakert home, a tragic event that has never stopped him from pursuing his personal and professional goals—in fact, it has only motivated his success. He’s become proficient in English, and uses screen-reader software to go on the Internet, as well as voice commands to type on the computer. He regularly contributes to several Armenian newspapers and journals as a political analyst and columnist. Yet, it was outside of the office where he realized one of his oldest dreams: to climb Mt. Ararat. He recently reached the summit, where he proudly planted the flag of Armenia.
How have you overcome adversity to advance yourself both personally and professionally?
Losing your eyesight creates all sorts of physical and mobility problems but through the struggle to overcome them you only grow stronger. All these obstacles have allowed me to develop strong willpower. That willpower to remain focused on my goals and assert my independence is now a part of my personality.
Losing my eyesight has also turned my attention to my inner world, as the visual world has ceased to distract me. That, too, counts as an advantage. Naturally, the negative aspects and consequences are many. I am convinced, however, that the loss of my eyesight has been a major factor in shaping my sense of self, determining the course of my life, and helping me realize my ambitions.
Can you share your impressions about climbing Mt. Ararat?
Reaching the summit of Mt. Ararat is a symbolic feat for any Armenian, and is a dream I’ve had for many years. When I arrived at the top, I felt a personal sense of victory, as the physical challenges were most demanding. Physical difficulties aside, fulfilling that dream was incredibly emotional. I’ve long told myself “I have to climb Mt. Ararat one day” because I see Ararat as an essential part of the nation; it is on our nation’s coat of arms. In a way, I feel we have had to fight for this land. Let me be clear: I do not mean fighting with weapons, but with our lives, with our knowledge, and in so many other ways. If we lose our devotion to Ararat and our belief in our homeland, we would lose an essential part of our identity.
Have you ever seen Mt. Ararat or at least its picture?
No, unfortunately I have not. Before losing my eyesight I had never been outside NKR and Mt. Ararat cannot be seen from there. As for the picture, I don’t really remember, as its image was banned before the war ended. In spite of that, I have always felt a strong connection to Mt. Ararat, and a strong desire to reach its top.
Based on your experience with diplomacy, what do you view as the foundations for a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
The peaceful resolution of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is a central concern for me. I’ve tried to play a bigger role throughout my career in attaining and securing that peace. Naturally, it is not one man’s job. Still, I am trying, both as a government official and as an analyst.
It is paramount for all sides to want peace. All nations need peace. In every conflict, and also in our case, nobody needs war. War brings new tragedies, new victims and new destruction. I believe that if we want to preserve stability in Karabakh, we cannot reverse to its pre-independence status. Even if it now enjoys de facto independence, turning back from that is impossible. I do not see Karabakh’s autonomy within Azerbaijan as a viable option.
What role has AGBU played in your education and in your achievements?
AGBU is one of the biggest organizations of our nation, not only in terms of size but also in terms of the activities it carries out and its work to preserve our culture and values. For me, AGBU has always been the main organization in the diaspora. The two main pillars of the diaspora are AGBU and the church.
AGBU has had a great influence on my education. I received a generous AGBU scholarship in 2011, which helped me complete my master’s program in Politics, Security and Integration at the University College London (UCL). With that financial support, I was able to take advantage of studying at one of the world’s top universities. I apply the knowledge and skills I developed at UCL every day as I work in the NKR government. I am extremely grateful for the support of the AGBU Scholarship Program.
What are your plans for the future? Would you consider running for office?
Primarily, I picture myself in academia and working as an analyst, as well as a government official. Currently, I am preparing to apply to Ph.D. programs, possibly in Yerevan, though I’m also considering universities abroad. A topic I have been doing research on is the role of the Afghan mujahideen in the NKR war. I have also done work on security policies in the Southern Caucasus and the impact of the NKR war, as well as comparative analysis of regime change in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. These are the main research areas I would like to pursue.
As far as running for office, I have always refrained from seeking a particular position. Achieving a certain role or title is not one of my goals: seeing what we can achieve together as a nation is. I’ve found that sometimes you can create just as much positive change in the lower ranks than in the higher ones.
But I honestly have not thought much about running for elected office. If the time comes and I feel there is the need for it, when I believe that I can make more of a difference that way, then why not? It may be something for the future. What am I doing now is only the beginning.
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