On October 28-31, the first Global Armenian Summit was held in Yerevan. Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II was also invited to participate in it.
Father Yesai Artenyan, Director of the Information System of the Mother See, told Aravot.am that a verbal invitation was sent to Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II by the RA High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, but “due to a number of considerations, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin does not see the participation of the Church in the activities of the summit as appropriate.”
On November 7, in the “Interview” pavilion of the First channel, the leader of the Shirak Diocese, Archbishop Mikael Adjapahyan, referring to the issue of the rejection of the invitation by the Mother See, claimed that the church was not properly invited and was not involved in the preparations for that summit.
To Petros Ghazaryan’s retort that the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs personally went to invite the Catholicos, Ajapakhyan said: “So the Commissioner of Diaspora is a person of a quite small caliber to come and invite the Catholicos of All Armenians verbally. […] So, therefore, he should be invited in a much more proper way, not at the last moment and that is, verbally.”
Fact Investigation Platform inquired from the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs and the Armenian Apostolic Church to find out when the invitation was sent to the Catholicos and in what format, as well as whether the procedure for inviting the Catholicos to the summit is defined by any protocol.
The Office invited the Catholicos 3 months ago
According to the response received from the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Zareh Sinanyan visited the Mother See on August 3 and met with the Catholicos. The purpose was to “personally and individually invite Garegin II to the Global Armenian Summit, conveying to him the preliminary agenda of the summit to get his consent”.
According to the Office’s response, Garegin II emphasized at the meeting that he has no desire to participate in the events organized by the current government. He also highlighted that previously the Mother See participated in the development of the agenda of Armenia-Diaspora conferences.
The response of the High Commissioner’s Office also states that Sinanyan specified that there were still 3 months until the summit, and the agenda was subject to revision.
“It is noteworthy that before the meeting with Garegin II, no person had been invited and had received the agenda,” reads the response to the inquiry.
With reference to the issue of the protocol, the Commissioner’s Office replied that the Mother See did not inform that the procedure for inviting the Catholicos was violated in any way.
“It should also be noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs does not have a clearly defined protocol for the delivering such invitations. Such a protocol did not exist in the past either,” reads the answer.
What does the Mother See say?
The Information System of the Mother See responded to our inquiry referring to the 2 clarifications given earlier. With one of these, the AAP also confirms that Sinanyan and the Catholicos met on August 3.
In the other clarification, referred to above, specifies among the reasons for not participating in the summit that the Mother See “did not have the opportunity to present its aforementioned and other observations to the organizers of the summit, not being involved in the organizational activities.”
Thus, both the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs and the Mother See confirm that Commissioner Sinanyan personally delivered the invitation to the Catholicos about 3 months before the summit, on August 3. Therefore, Ajapahyan’s claim that the invitation was “at the last moment” is questionable.
The clarification of the Commissioner’s Office does not confirm Ajapahyan’s claim of improperly sending an invitation to the Catholicos. According to the Office, there is no such special protocol and there never was, and no remarks were received from the Mother See regarding the violation of the procedure of the invitation.
The Office and the Mother See, in fact, contradict each other also in terms of the Church being excluded from the organizational activities and agenda development for the summit.