Impactful Citizen Diplomacy : Armenia’s successful example

Written by: Shah Minhaz Chowdhury

In almost all of the works on foreign policy reformation by YPF, we had  highlighted the need for Citizen or Diaspora diplomacy.

What is Citizen-Diaspora Diplomacy:
This refers  to the form of soft diplomacy where common citizens and foreign diaspora of a nation raise awareness of their issues among the public of foreign countries. Newly generated mass public attention often compels those countries to take affirmative actions.

Armenia’s success :
The dispute for Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh has been going on for decades. But after it turned violent in 2020, Armenians within and outside their country quickly took it to the internet.

Through constant online activism on popular platforms (like Twitter and Instagram), hashtags, posts, and news reflecting Armenian views became hugely popular and widely shared.

Beyond the online sphere, Armenians have managed to organize demonstrations with thousands of people in more than 50 cities around the world, from Alaska to Sydney. They have also attracted endorsements from several A-list Hollywood celebrities and a hefty amount of donation (several million $) along with it.

Besides, Armenian diaspora in the US has always been politically and economically influential. It actively advocated for American intervention or pressure on Azerbaijan. It even has managed to reach the Trump campaign. Few days ago in a Nevada rally, Trump praised Armenians for nearly a minute and stated “Yeah! We are working on something”.

Azerbaijan’s place:
On the other hand – at least in this parameter – Azerbaijan is lagging far behind. They had cut off their public internet access right when the conflict started. This proved to be a huge mistake, as it reduced the number of their own online supporters significantly. Their online crusade depended heavily on Turkish netizens. Besides, the Azeri diaspora doesn’t yield such high influence in the Western countries.

Another noteworthy point – this is not the first time, the Armenian government realized the power of their diaspora diplomacy. An Armenian MP raised this point to their parliament way back in 2004, through a research working paper. (YPF Governance Apprenticeship project gives us hope).
Key takeaways – 

50 years ago, during the turbulent times of 1971, bengali diaspora in the US and UK had successfully managed to create a wave of support among the masses for our independence. Compared to 1971, the number of expat Bangladeshi students and skilled professionals are now much higher. Every year the number is rising. They have organized some events in their communities to highlight crucial issues of Bangladesh. But the true extent of our soft power is still largely untapped.

[ This post does not endorse any parties of the conflict. 3rd party Int’l news sources have reported alleged atrocities by both countries – which is heavily condemned by YPF ]

Sources and Further readings –

4. Trump speaking of Armenians from his rally

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