11 October 2017
In 1367, King Kazimierz of Poland signed a royal decree granting special status to the Armenians of Poland. On September 19, 2017, Poland officially marked the 650th anniversary of the event with a conference in the Senate. The conference explored the country’s rich Armenian heritage and its contemporary relevance.
The conference was opened by Marshal of the Polish Senate Stanislaw Karczenski and was attended by leading academics on Armenian heritage and history, including Jagellionian University’s Krzystof Stopka and Andrzej Zieba. Among other foreign guests, Nadia Gortzounian, President of AGBU Europe, addressed the opening session of the assembly.
In her address, Ms Gortzounian said that “in the Armenian Global Nation, the Armenians of Poland hold a special place”. She underlined the significance of the study of heritage for the present: “in this age of migration, “hyper-diversity” and conflict, I am convinced that the Armenian experience is worth learning from”.
Polish Foundation for Armenian Culture and Heritage signs cooperation agreement with AGBU Europe
The event also provided a fitting opportunity to sign a cooperation agreement between the Polish Foundation for Armenian Heritage and the Armenian General Benevolent Union Europe. Of the newly signed agreement, Ms Gortzounian also said: “I very much look forward to our centre (the Nubar Library in Paris) working closely with the Foundation of Culture and Heritage of Polish Armenians in the future for the benefit of research and of the understanding of the Armenian experience.”
Armenians first arrived in central Europe and the territories of medieval Poland in the 11th century, following the fall of the Armenian Kingdom of Ani. They came to form an important part of the kingdom’s bourgeoisie in the middle ages. In 1367, King Kazimierz III the Great granted privileges to Armenian bishop Gregory, allowing the Armenians to run their affairs under the authority of their church. The bishop’s seat was established in Lvov (now Lviv in the Ukraine). Poland still boasts much Armenian heritage.
Armenians today are one of Poland’s officially recognized minorities. The descendants of the medieval community have preserved their institutions, and have been joined by substantial numbers of more recent Armenian immigrants.
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