On July 4, the Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation and the Global Perspectives Initiative organized a joint event in Berlin, which focused on the discussion of the history and presence of Armenian-German relations. A number of honorable guests, including members of the German Bundestag, representatives of the Armenian Embassy in Berlin as well as German intellectuals, cultural and diplomatic figures attended the discussion.
The discussion was held within the framework of the Armenian chapter of “Hello World” exhibition opened at Museum Hamburger Bahnhof with a special focus on the Armenian Chapter of the Exhibition which occupied one of the largest halls in total of 500sqm.
At the opening session, co-founders of the IDeA Foundation Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend welcomed the guests and highlighted the importance of such events and discussions for strengthening and expanding Armenian-German relations in the field of education and culture.
Veronika Zonabend noted that Dilijan Intercultural Exchange project, which was implemented as part of the Civil Society Cooperation program, funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, with the support of the Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation, demonstrated intensive networks between Armenian and German artists and societies at large. In her opinion, the outcomes of the project may give a new breath to restoring and enhancing cultural experiences between Armenia and Germany.
“We have witnessed a very open-minded and deep discussion today. The fact that the event has took place in the building of museum proves/shows a new role and new way of art and museums in the current world. The role of such events is to open new horizons and make both sides aware of our cultural heritage and generally each other. Culture is the best way to learn about each other without losing your own identity. I believe that the event helped us to better understand each other, interact with each other,” – said Ms. Zonabend.
After the opening remarks, CEO of IDeA Foundation Rafi Baghdjian communicated IDeA’s cultural vision to the German audience and presented the Foundation’s projects that are aimed at preserving national identity and cultural heritage, such as the Tatev Revival Project, Dilijan Arts Observatory, Shushi Mosque restoration, etc.
E. Ambassador of Armenia to Germany Ashot Smbatyan was among the distinguished guests of the event. He stated: “We welcome this initiative, yet another demonstration of friendly relations between Armenia and Germany. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the organizers and participants of the initiative, who have enabled us to touch upon the dynamically developing cooperation between our two nations with great history.”
Cem Özdemir, Member of the German Parliament, and Wolfgang Huber, former Chairperson of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany, were the discussion panelists and key speakers. The panel was moderated by a famous German TV host and journalist Ali Aslan. They expressed their views on Armenian-German relations and their recent common history.
“I think one of the turning points was when Germany recognized the Genocide towards Armenians and other Eastern Christians that used to live in Ottoman Empire. I think that moment was crucial for us to start new relations between Armenia and Germany. When we look on today’s Armenia we see a very strong civil society and it is really something to admire. And I think Europe and particularly Germany should play more important role that Armenia become full democracy. The more Armenia becomes full democracy the easier it will be to convince Germans to invest in Armenia,” – remarked Mr. Özdemir.
After the discussion, the guests had a guided tour through the Armenian part of “Hello World” exhibition at Museum Hamburger Bahnhof. The chapter displayed the results of the Dilijan Intercultural Exchange project – a unique selection of artworks and investigations produced at the Dilijan Arts Observatory. The origins of the project build on the German-Armenian cultural and educational networks that have been in place over the course of the 20th century. In the 1960-70s, Dilijan was well-known as an international artists’ retreat hosting German architects, writers, filmmakers, and musicians.