Assistant Professor Vahram Ter-Matevosyan Awarded Golden Commemorative Medal of Fridtjof Nansen

YEREVAN, Armenia – The American University of Armenia (AUA) is happy to share that Dr. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, assistant professor of the Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), was recently awarded the Golden Commemorative Medal of Fridtjof Nansen for his contribution to the development of the Armenian-Norwegian friendship as well as for his activities in the condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.

The decision to award the medal to Dr. Ter-Matevosyan was made by the Fridtjof Nansen Foundation on October 10, the birthdate of humanitarian, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and close friend of the Armenian nation, Fridtjof Nansen. Dr. Ter-Matevosyan was also selected to become a board member of the foundation.

In addition to receiving the medal, Dr. Ter-Matevosyan was awarded with 20 volumes written both by and about Nansen, which he plans to donate to AUA’s AGBU Papazian Library, where he believes they will be most beneficial.

Dr. Ter-Matevosyan was born in Gyumri and received his undergraduate degree at Yerevan State University, Faculty of History. He continued his studies at Lund University in Sweden, one of the oldest universities in Europe, where he studied East and Southeast Asian studies with a specialization in history. He completed his PhD at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Specializing in Turkish studies for the past 20 years, Dr. Ter-Matevosyan has been teaching Caucasian and Middle East politics at AUA since 2011. His interest in studying Turkey and its foreign policy stemmed from a desire to understand the country from within. He remarked that after Armenia gained independence in 1991, public discourse about Turkey has been black and white, as Turkey was mainly perceived through the lense of the Armenian Genocide. This led him to dig deeper into the history and political developments of Turkey.

The key message that Dr. Ter-Matevosyan tries to convey to his students is to critically revise the established views both from the Armenian and Turkish perspectives, and to learn how the positions have changed since 1991. His devotion is reflected in his time spent in the classroom making sure students have a thorough understanding of the different facets of the bilateral relations. He also believes that Armenia has a bright future, especially because today’s students face no constraints in their way of thinking.

Dr. Ter-Matevosyan has published extensively on the topic of Turkey, particularly its ideological construction, in the following key journals in his field: Europe-Asia Studies, Turkish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Insight Turkey, Eurasian Geography and Economics, Turkish Review, Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Iran and the Caucasus, Diaspora Studies, Études Arméniennes Contemporaines, UC Berkeley Armenian Studies Program Occasional Papers, Contemporary Eurasia and many others.

In reference to current Armenian-Turkish relations, Dr. Ter-Matevosyan believes that additional international assistance is needed for overcoming the current situation and establishing and improving diplomatic relations.

Although bilateral relations between Armenia and Norway are friendly, Dr. Ter-Matevosyan is also deeply engaged in the further development of relations between the two countries, believing that they share many similarities. Like Armenia, Norway was also under the dominance of outside nations for centuries. Currently, however, Norway is number one worldwide according to the human development index, and the country enjoys the highest prosperity index, which Dr. Ter-Matevosyan believes the Norwegian people have achieved through hard work and careful usage of natural resources.

In April 2017, Dr. Ter-Matevosyan facilitated the visit of the Norwegian choir, Sangkoret Lyderhorn, to Armenia. The choir was composed of 50 members who came to Armenia to get familiarized with its history and to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide through a performance of Armenian spiritual songs by Komitas and other Armenian composers at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex. The group was also well received by the Deputy Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, where they again performed Armenian songs.

This year was also marked by personal achievements for Dr. Ter-Matevosyan, who received his second doctorate degree in history from the University of Bergen in Norway. He attributes his successes to hard work, sleepless nights, careful planning and unconditional support from his family. Although he knows there is a lot of competition in his field, he believes it’s important to work hard and be competitive not only in Armenia but also worldwide.

After receiving the Golden Commemorative Medal of Fridtjof Nansen, Dr. Ter-Matevosyan said, “It feels nice to be acknowledged and recognized for the job that you do. It’s also an extra stimulus to work harder and achieve even more in the future, although I am sure my greatest achievements are yet to come.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.