PSIA336Class with Fr Vahram Melikyan of Mother See

PSIA Guest Lecture on Foreign Affairs of Holy Etchmiadzin

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YEREVAN, Armenia — Despite the emergency situation and lockdowns in Armenia and elsewhere in the world imposed by COVID-19, the academic life at the American University of Armenia (AUA) continues at a steady pace through the use of online platforms. 

On April 23, the Foreign Policy Analysis course of the Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) graduate program hosted an online guest lecture on Zoom. Rev. Fr. Vahram Melikyan, head of the Information Services Department of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, was invited to discuss the history, strategies, and modern period of foreign affairs between the Vatican and Holy Etchmiadzin as part of the course syllabus. 

Course instructor and PSIA Adjunct Lecturer Dr. Hovhannes Nikoghosyan welcomed Fr. Vahram and acknowledged his kind agreement to speak to the class on the important issues of diplomatic engagements by the Mother See and successive Catholicoi of the Armenian Apostolic Church since Armenia regained independence in 1991. 

Fr. Vahram started off with a brief but thorough historical overview of the development of relations between the Armenian Church and other Christian churches since 451 AD, with a focus on relations with the Roman Catholic Church. Special attention was paid to the ways and means of how interchurch relations and foreign engagements are developed and implemented during the independence period by various governance institutions and structures of the Armenian Church and the Vatican under the leadership of three successive Catholicoi of All Armenians (Vazgen I, Karekin I, and Karekin II) and three successive Popes (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis), respectively. Fr. Vahram made insightful observations related to the current period since the independence of Armenia, most of which has not been published yet in academic journals or newspapers. 

PSIA students actively participated in the discussion with questions pertaining to state-church relations in Armenia, the contribution of the church to Armenian foreign policy and use of soft power, as well as current Etchmiadzin-Vatican relations. 

“The Armenian Church has always, throughout the centuries, treasured the idea of Armenian independent statehood and has always remained the torch-bearer of this vision. Thereby, with the independence in 1991 the Mother See and all three Catholicoi since — Vazgen I, Karekin I, and Karekin II — have been doing everything they can to make the Republic of Armenia appear on the world stage with dignity and necessary shine,” Fr. Vahram remarked. 

In conclusion, noting the forthcoming graduation of the students in just a few weeks, Fr. Vahram wished them well and many new achievements in their future careers, suggesting that prioritizing values and principles over all other considerations eventually earns pride to anyone in professional life. Dr. Nikoghosyan, on behalf of the entire class, thanked Fr. Vahram for his time and contribution.

The Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program of the American University of Armenia (AUA) equips students with advanced analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication skills through the study of political science and international affairs, emphasizing local and global perspectives and practical applications of theory. The program provides world-class teaching and research, producing graduates who can best contribute to the development of the nation.