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Interview with Artyom Geghamyan


October 24, 2014

Luys Alumni Artyom Geghamyan is a graduate of Harvard University, where he specialized in Public Administration. He was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Ani: Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

Artyom: I was born and raised in Yeghvard, where I attended secondary school. As a child, I studied music; I played violin and was so serious about music that I was preparing to apply to the conservatory. However, I later changed my mind and entered the law department at the Yerevan State University (YSU), where I started my professional career in law.

Ani: During your studies, did you take part in any social activities?

Artyom: Both in Armenia and abroad, I always actively participated in community life. At YSU, alongside my studies, I became the president of the law students’ council. I have also always given importance to the role of volunteering. I participated in the Fuller Center for Housing’s construction work in Armenia’s regions. Helping people was extremely inspiring for me. Volunteering has an important role in enabling people to collaborate on joint efforts and realize common goals.

Ani: In what way did Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government appeal to you when you were making your decision to continue your studies?

Artyom: The Kennedy School is an educational institution that is wonderful for those seeking careers in the policy making and public service sectors. Those who study at the Kennedy School apply their acquired knowledge and skills and adapt that knowledge to their country’s political and social culture.

“Volunteering has an important role in enabling people to collaborate on joint efforts and realize common goals.”

Ani: In your opinion, what opportunities does Luys offer to young Armenians?

Artyom: There are numerous foundations in the world, and the Kennedy School receives funds from various state foundations. Several countries partially or completely cover tuition costs for their students to study at the best universities abroad; however, for the most part, those foundations require that their students return to their homeland after graduating and continue their professional careers there. That means that the student’s choice of career is extremely limited. The Luys Foundation does not make students fulfill such requirements. Furthermore, it doesn’t just provide funding for Armenian citizens but also young people of Armenian descent living abroad. Luys unites Armenians from around the world through the concept of the Armenian World.

Ani: What factors play a crucial role in these students’ decisions to return to Armenia?

Artyom: The desire to return to the homeland to work depends on a variety of factors. One essential factor is work: what kind of job has been offered or what kind of job one can find, with whom that person must work, what kinds of responsibilities there are, as well as what opportunities and freedoms that person has in the workplace.

“Luys unites Armenians from around the world through the concept of the Armenian World.”

Ani: As Deputy Minister of Justice, what were some of your responsibilities?

Artyom: I coordinated the notary services, all international relations within the ministry, and the state’s justice reform initiatives. I was also involved in coordinating and implementing a strategy for protecting human rights.

Ani: What are some initiatives that you would like to spearhead?

Artyom: I’ve worked with numerous international organizations that implement different programs in Armenia. These programs relate to strengthening the judicial system, providing free legal aid, and establishing a better system for protecting human rights. It is necessary for our cooperation with these organizations to be very structured, so that the resources and support they provide are used more effectively.

Ani: You’ve talked about some of the reforms implemented in the justicial system. Are there other programs aside from this that you would like to see come to fruition or initiatives that you would like to implement?

Artyom: When I first graduated from Harvard University, my friends and I were interested in implementing a program that would raise awareness about human rights among children living in communities across Armenia. Such a program would give us the opportunity to increase public awareness.

Ani: It’s essential that children are well aware of their rights and the rule of law.

Artyom: And not just the rule of law. It’s also important for us as Luys Scholars to inspire children. School-age children need to understand their capabilities, believe in themselves and boldly define their goals. I plan to create an organization that will pass on a thorough knowledge of human rights and help those who seek to recieve a quality education both here and at the best universities abroad.

“I would like to see the rule of law protected in our country, most importantly among society members, not only law-abiding structures. In order to do this, it is essential that we, as policy makers, develop a long-term vision for reforming the legal system.”

Ani: How would you like to see Armenia in ten years?

Artyom: I would like for people’s attitudes towards one another to change. I would simply like to see more lovingness in my country and for people to live healthy lives. I would also like to change people’s perceptions of how they view life abroad, because our perceptions are not correct and our understanding is based on misrepresented and distorted experiences. And this results in us not appreciating the opportunities presented to us and taking advantage of those opportunities. I would like to see the rule of law protected in our country, most importantly among society members, not only law-abiding structures. In order to do this, it is essential that we, as policy makers, develop a long-term vision for reforming the legal system. It’s really important for the community at large to be in communication with those state bodies involved in legal reform. I’m finding that there’s much work to be done in that regard. Finally, I would like for us to truly understand the influence of the external environment on our lives. I would like to see an Armenia where all human rights are protected and promoted for the betterment of society.


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