Inge Eidsvåg and Steinar Bryn visited Yerevan. The visit was in honor of the medal of righteousness given to Fridtjof Nansen at the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Washington DC, May 9th this year.
The journey started with a visit to the Nansen Foundation where its director, Feliks Bakhchinyan gave his guests a warm welcome. Nansen Foundation has translated all books written by Nansen to the Armenian language, and numerous books about Fridtjof Nansen (mor than 40 all together). The visit to the Foundation was followed by a walk to the corner of Abovyan and Moskovyan streets where we laid down the flowers to the Nansen Monument. Then we went to the Nansen Museum located in the Nansen Park. We can easily name Yerevan the Nansen capital of the world.
A powerful visit to the Genocide Museum reminded us of the shameful rejection of this fact by the Norwegian government. It seems based on political reasons, loyalty to the U.S. and not on historical arguments.
The following day Inge Eidsvåg gave a lecture about Fridtjof Nansen in the Nansen room at the Yerevan State University. Over fifty 18 year old students listened carefully to an inspirational speech. A similar speech was given a few hours later to Master students at the American University of Armenia, where Inge and Steinar were invited by Vahram Ter-Matevosyan. This time the seminar had a stronger focus on the legacy of Nansen followed by a short introduction to Nansen Dialogue as an example of how the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue keep the Nansen Spirit alive. In the evening Media Initiatives organized a showing of Reunion, where several students who had participated in the International Summer School in Lillehammer showed up. They spoke about the summer in Lillehammer/Oslo as significant impact in terms of their relationship to their neighboring countries and their outlook on life.
We really felt the Nansen presence in Yerevan. His position in Armenia is stronger than we expected. But while in Norway he is more known for his polar expeditions, in Armenia he is more famous for his humanitarian work, the Nansen passport and his work to repatriate Armenian refugees.