Monday, February 26, 2024

National Day of Armenia, a tribute to Armenian identity

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In the picture H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, Ambassador of Armenia to the Netherlands

The Embassy of Armenia celebrated in The Hague the country’s main state holiday, which remembers the 1991 referendum in which the people of Armenia proclaimed independence from the Soviet Union. 

The National Day of Armenia was organized by the Armenian Embaasy at the Diligentia Theater in The Hague on October 10th. The event was a tribute to Armenian identity, as well as a symbol of the close relations among the many countries from across the world, represented at the event by many ambassadors, head of missions and diplomats.

The event was also a reminder of the significantly growing collaboration between Armenia and the Netherlands under the mandate of H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, Ambassador of Armenia to the Netherlands; the presence of many Dutch civil servants, politicians and businesspeople at the event was a clear sign of this strong bond.   

Ambassador Balayan, Mrs. Natalia Shulgina, H.E. Mr. Alexander Shulgin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation and H.E. Mr. Dilyor Khakimov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan.

The central theme of the National Day celebrations was a great concert, which celebrated Armenia and commemorated the 150thjubilee of Komitas Vardapet. The musicians, violinist and pianist Serge and Lusine Khachatryan, geniuses of immeasurable talent acclaimed worldwide, performed a program based in Komitas Vardapet’s best known compositions, but also featuring music by Eduard Bagdasaryan and Aram Khachaturian.

The guests of Ambassador Balayan filled up the whole Diligentia Theater, and their enthusiastic and long applauses showed to the artist their great appreciation. Flooded with flowers, compliments and never-ending applauses, Serge and Lusine Khachatryan leaved the sale to continue their European tournée. 

H.E. Dr Jan Anthonie Bruijn, President of the Senate and Ambassador Balayan with guests.

The event started with a warm, spontaneous and generous reception by the Armenian Embassy, attended by H.E. Mr. Alexander Shulgin, Ambassador of Russia, and his spouse and Natalia Shulgina; H.E. Mr. Dilyor Khakimov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan; H.E. Ms. Adia Sakiqi, Ambassador of Albania, H.E. Ms. Heidemaria Gurer, Ambassador of Austria; H.E. Ms. Mirsada Čolaković, Ambassador of Bosnia Herzegovina; H.E. Mr. Andrea Perugini, Ambassador of Italy and his spouse Mrs. Mariska Perugini-Visser; H.E. Mr. Rumen Alexandrov, Ambassador of Bulgaria; H.E. Mr. Kevin Kelly, Ambassador of Ireland; among the many.

Notably, the event was also attended by the President of the National Assembly of Armenia, Mr. Ararat Mirzoyan, who was on an official visit in The Netherlands and the President of the Dutch Senate, H.E. Dr Jan Anthonie Bruijn, guest of honor. At the reception, preceding the concert, the first copy of Dutch translation of Hovhannes Tumanyan’s fairy tales ( prominent Armenian author whose 150th anniversary is celebrated this year, also by UNESCO) was presented to the President of Dutch Senate Dr. Bruijn.

Welcoming the many guests attending the National Day reception and the concert, H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia, delivered his remarks.

“I am delighted to welcome you all on the 150th Anniversary of the great Armenian composer, priest and song collector Komitas: an incredible occasion, which has also been marked by UNESCO. We are honored to have organized this concert and lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to miraculous music performed by Sergey and Lusine, world renowned musicians and Cultural Ambassadors of the Armenian people. This concert is in many ways exceptional and we are deeply grateful to Sergey and Lusine for their presence and performance.” 

Trying to describe the genius of Komitas, Ambassador Balayan said: “He has everything to offer to everyone who appreciates music. His is the author of one of the most impeccable Christian Liturgies ever composed. He collected and transcribed several thousands of songs from around the Armenia more than a century ago. Among those are some rather courageous, from a musical point of view, choral works. Devoting his entire life to research of traditional Armenian music, he created a national Armenian style of music composition and outlined paths for development of Armenian music. He was one of the pioneers in ethnomusicology in the world. This list can continue.”

“I would like to emphasize once more that Komitas is the collective consciousness of Armenians, he summarizes our aspirations and our pain. After 1915 Komitas spent more than 20 years in psychiatric hospital in Paris never talking nor reacting to anyone. The horrors of the Armenian Genocide which he witnessed were too much for a human being to tolerate. Thus, what we have of his music was created before April 1915, before life stopped in the biggest part of the historical fatherland of Armenians.”

Sergey and Lusine Khachatryan, Armenian masters.

“We have kept Komitas’ memory alive. Despite the attempt to annihilate an entire nation we survived and nowadays are building a modern democracy. This is the reason why Komitas’ Anniversary today is marked in the context of Armenian Day of Independence.”

“After the victory of last year’s non-violent velvet revolution in Armenia” declared ambassador Balayan, “we have opened an entirely new page in its history, a page full of hope and confidence in a better future. Armenia has embarked on a new path of creating a truly democratic and corruption-free society, market and competitive economy, strengthening the justice system and the rule of law, as well as good governance, securing equal opportunities in social and economic life to promote sustainable development.”

H.E. Ms. Adia Sakiqi, Ambassador of Albania, H.E. Ms. Heidemaria Gurer, Ambassador of Austria; H.E. Ms. Mirsada Čolaković, Ambassador of Bosnia Herzegovina and H.E. Ms. Katerina Sequensova, Ambassador of Czech Republic.

“Certainly, achieving coherent democracy is a difficult process, which requires substantial time, unconditional commitment and even a change in mentality. In this challenging path Armenia needs to be supported, especially by the Netherlands, as a leading advocate of human rights and fundamental freedoms. And we highly value the continued engagement of the Netherlands to expand political dialogue, deepen economic and trade cooperation, intensify cultural exchanges.”

Armenian diaspora in The Hague at Armenia National Day 2019.

“The year started with a meeting of Prime-Ministers Pashinyan and Rutte in Davos, and today we have a delegation of the President of Armenian Parliament in the Hague. For next year we hope to have other high-level visits, but more importantly intensification in people-to-people contacts. In this context I would like to inform you that the trade turnover between our countries is on the rise, and the number of Dutch tourists visiting Armenia has raised with at least 30%. Next year Drents museum will host the exhibition ‘Under the spell of Mount Ararat – Treasures from ancient Armenia’, which will showcase the rich cultural heritage of my country.”

Armenias at Diligentia Theatre after the concert by Sergey and Lusine Khachatryan celebrating Armenia National Day.

The beauty and generous spirit of Armenia was visible throughout the evening, and the music of the masters was a gift from heaven.  A reception with Armenian delicacies, wine and brandy preceded and followed the concert, and the event itself was possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Adibekyan Family Foundation for Advancement, ARMA leather company, MAAS Travel, Armenian Church Council of Almelo, the Kaashoeve Rotterdam, and the Armenia’s Honorary Consul in Amsterdam. 

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