A little over a century ago, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were systematically extinguished in the first genocide of the 20th century. Over 300,000 survivors, the bulk of the country’s remaining population, were forced to flee to disparate parts of the world.
Today, Armenians make up a global community of 10-million strong, excelling in business, science, the arts and academia.
Over the last year, Armenia has been in the international spotlight during a period of incredible change for the country. 2018 saw Armenia transform politically through its ‘Velvet Revolution’ – a peaceful transition of government that earned it The Economist’s accolade of 2018 Country of the Year.
At Edelman, we work closely with key political, economic and business stakeholders from across the country to help Armenia continue to thrive post-revolution and re-engage the diaspora along with the rest of the world, as part of our work with the IDeA Foundation.
This year, working with a grouping of leading philanthropists from across the diaspora, we will launch the inaugural Aurora Forum. Comprising cultural performances, interactive street festivals and engaging dialogues, The Aurora Forum is an ambitious series of events that will be held in Armenia’s capital Yerevan.
It will bring together distinguished leaders from around the world who share the belief that we all have a personal stake in humanity’s progress, whether that be in business, education, technology, innovation, or humanitarianism.
At the Forum, we will also present the fourth annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Supported by a roster of global leaders including George Clooney, Mary Robinson, Ernesto Zedillo and Oscar Arias, we launched the Aurora prize four years ago in the form of a $1.1m grant awarded annually to an exceptional individual who risks their life to save others.
But a challenge remains: why Armenia?
Despite the country’s significant regeneration, rich cultural history and unique position nestled in the heart of the Caucasus, too few people in the Western world are familiar with Armenia, let alone have visited it.
Ahead of the Forum, we set out to show Western media that Armenia is a country that is not only emerging from a burden of suffering and conflict but is actively carving out its own renewal for current and future generations of Armenians at home, the diaspora, and the world.
We curated a four-day road trip across the country for a group of journalists to discover the country first-hand.
We sipped Armenian brandy in the capital; rifled through lost treasures in Vernissage market; explored ancient monasteries tucked away high in the mountains; rode the world’s longest reversible cable car, the ‘Wings of Tatev’; gorged ourselves on vine leaves, gata, pickled vegetables, honey cakes and kebabs in Areni village; and met with the women behind the up-and-coming art scene in Dilijan, otherwise known as “the Switzerland of Armenia”.
We all came back knowing exactly “Why Armenia?”. But don’t take our word for it; discover Armenia for yourself and find out why its title of 2018 Country of the Year is just one of many steps towards Armenia becoming a key destination for the next generation of traveller.
The Aurora Forum will be held 14-21 October 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia. For more information, please visit: https://aurora.go2armenia.com/