About Community

The first Armenian families settled in Switzerlandat the end of the 19th Century, fleeing persecution of Sultan Abdul Hamid in the Ottoman Empire. They settled mainly in French-speaking Switzerland. Later, during the Armenian genocide of 1915 and the following years, other refugees arrived.

Pastor Kraft Bonnard created in the 1920s an orphanage in Begnins (VD) where over 200 orphans, genocide survivors found refuge. After finishing their studies, some remained permanently in Switzerland.

At the end of the Second World War, the community in Switzerland reached approximately 300 people. Since then, the number has continued to grow. The situation in the Middle East, in Soviet Union and in independent Armenia have encouraged many Armenians to immigrate to the West and to try to create a more secure life. It is estimated that today, the number of Armenians in Switzerland has reached 5000 people. 

The community has created institutions. The "Armenian Union of Switzerland (UAS)" generally represents the Armenians in french-speaking  Switzerland. In 1969 St Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church, was built in Troinex (Geneva), which is the only Armenian church in Switzerland. It all began with a major gift from Mr. Hagop Topalian.

The church is owned by a foundation created for this purpose, the Foundation St. Gregory the Illuminator. The church is run by the Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church and a priest appointed permanently. It also deals with communities located elsewhere in Switzerland.

In the 1980s, the foundation of St Gregory decided to build a cultural center. In 2006, the construction of the Center was complete.

 Today, the Center includes:

 - a 300-seat multipurpose room

 - a library of about 3000 books

 - two great halls

 - various meeting rooms

 - a kiosk selling books and other objects of Armenia.

In 1985, Mr. Hagop Topalian created a foundation bearing his name. According to the wish of Mr. Topalian, Topalian Foundation finances a school installed in the Center, where Armenian children meet every Wednesday during school year. The Foundation also funds the kiosk located at the Armenian Center and the Armenian stand at the International Book Fair and Press of Geneva taking place every year, as well as the website: www.centre-armenien-geneve.ch.

The Foundation has close ties with AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union) whose offices are located in the center.

Other Armenian foundations for humanitarian purposes were created by private groups.

 Including :

1 - Foundation Philipposian: which finances studies of young people.

2 - Foundation Armenia: which deals with various humanitarian activities in Armenia and Karabakh.

3 – The brothers Goukassiantz founding: which helps the Faculty of Arts of the University of Geneva, to hold a Center for armenian studies and research. It allows the University of Geneva to offer in Switzerland the unique comprehensive curriculum with Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. degrees.

4 – The Armenian Ladies Association of Geneva publishes Artzakank community newspaper, which reflects the various activities of the community and creates a link between the Armenians of Switzerland, particularly in french-speaking Switzerland.

5 - The Armenia fund (Himnadram) enables vital projects to the economic, social and cultural development of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and participates in the creation of infrastructures.

Cultural activities:

The Armenian community of Geneva has a choir (Chorale Arax) as well as a dance troupe (Troupe Sanahin).

Finally, the most important stronghold of the armenianness is the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, installed by special permission of the Confederation in Geneva. It also serves as a Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations and other international Organisations in Geneva.

  

For more information, see the website of the  Armenian Center : http://www.centre-armenien-geneve.ch

 

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