News > European Armenians > Arthur Ghukasian: From Armenia to Greece and Spain
Few decades ago there were no more than few hundred Armenians in Spain, mostly students or businessmen. The situation however has changed now and the number of Armenians is more than 50 thousand. They have concentrations in certain areas. The first Armenian Church was opened in a small town near Barcelona in August 2009 (a chapel leased to the Armenian Apostolic Church for thirty years).
Arthur Ghukasian is an intellectual and a reporter based in Valencia. He knows the diaspora very well, as he has lived in several countries before settling down in Spain.
We had the following interview with Arthur Ghukasian, tracing the development of the Armenian community in Spain through his own personal story.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I came to Valencia, Spain in 2002. I chose the city because a big number of Armenians had already settled there and in this very city there is the only Armenian honorary council in Spain.
Soon afterwards I became the only Armenian member of Valencia’s (and Spain’s) reporters’ union and hence I have exerted my efforts to bring up the Armenian issue. It suffices to say that my first article in the “Periodistas” was entitled “we are all Hrant Dink“.
Nevertheless, my biggest achievement was becoming a member of the International Press Club where I had the opportunity to introduce Armenian topics to non-Armenians, for example I wrote about the atrocities of the Azeris who tried to destroy the cross-stones, a topic which can be found in the club’s website.
Having come from Armenia and having lived here for over seven years, was is it easy to understand the Diaspora mentality?
Well, before settling down here, I had lived in Greece for a long period of time and had the privilege of contacting with the Armenians of Alexandroupolis (a city in Northern Greece, not far from the Turkish borders), who have coexisted with different people and yet maintained their Armenian identity.
And what about the Armenians of Spain?
Most Armenians in Spain today have mainly migrated from Armenia. They are about 50 thousand in number, living mainly in Valencia. They work in different fields like construction, agriculture, artwork etc. Some, naturally, have their own businesses. Nevertheless, we do not have a commuity that can be compared with the ones in Greece or Syria (for example), although there have been several occasions where we proved to be an active community. I remember on the 92 anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a march was organized in Madrid where 4 thousand people from all around the country participated. Another serious act was inaugurating the first cross-stone in Alicante, in the presence of hundreds of attendants. The Armenian Catholicosate of Echmiatzin has appointed a pastor for Spain and we are all hopes that with his presence we will be a much stronger and organized community.
Recently, writer Gonzalo Guarch published his second book about the Armenians. What can you tell us about that?
Well, after his first book “The Armenian pedigree”, whenever he went to the doctor for any complaint, the doctor used to tell him “you have an illness and that’s called the Armenian People, let it aside and go on with your life", but he - on the contrary - every time researched more about the Armenians and eventually wrote his second book titled “The Armenian Will”. It is indeed a brilliant book about the shocking events that took place between the years 1885-1920 in Armenia. I believe it should be translated immediately, at least to French and English.
I should also mention that the first Spanish writer to talk about the Armenian issue was Jose Antonio Gurriaran whose second book “The Armenians: A forgotten Genocide” was a success, and here in Madrid, we have had nine presentations for the book so far.
In your opinion, how is it possible to spread news and topics about Armenia and the Armenians in European countries?
Via the Press. For example, recently there has been an agreement with the Vega Media Press news service to publish articles about Armenia and the Armenian nation. They have given us a special section in their website called Armenia Press and appointed me as its manager, to speard Armenian topics.
What about your still-to-be-published works?
Presently, I am writing my book about Artsakh (Karabakh) from my point of view as a witness, who in 1987 was still a student collecting signatures in favor of reuniting Artsakh to Armenia. There’s another book in hand, the idea of which occurred to me back in Armenia. It is a series of conversations with men of letter, musicians, etc., like Kevork Emin, Dikran Mansourian, Hamo Sahian... to mention a few. I am hopeful that it will appeal to many and the readers will appreciate its value.
Translated by Nanor Mikayelian
A sample of Arthur Ghukasian’s reporting in Vega Media Press: The Genocide negation conference in Brussels (in Spanish)
Photo below: Arthur Ghukasian with Yves Ternon during Genocide negation conference (Brussels, October 2009).