Being Armenian is not about having a surname ending in – yan or – ian; it’s about living as an Armenian and defending our religion, culture, and values.
As the managing partner of GK Group Legal, an international law firm and consulting company with headquarters in Spain, Levon Grigorian is no stranger to solving complex legal issues. He also represents Enterprise Armenia in Spain, spearheading domestic investments in businesses in the homeland. He has been involved with AGBU Europe since 2016 and is a steering committee member of AGBU Young Professionals (YP) Madrid. He was part of the AGBU Young Europeans for the International Recognition for Artsakh (YERIA) delegation to Armenia and Artsakh during the 44-day war in 2020.
How and when did you first get involved with AGBU, and why were you drawn to the organization?
After my family moved to Spain due to the pogroms in Baku and the First Artsakh War, I grew up without any contact with Armenian communities. However, I was lucky to be raised by a genuinely patriotic mother. In 2012, when I finished my studies as an international lawyer, I travelled constantly. I built ties with Armenian communities wherever I had the opportunity to live, like in Brussels, New York, London, Sao Paulo, Washington, D.C., and Moscow. I began seeking organizations focused on preserving our heritage, culture, religion, and language worldwide while helping to develop Artsakh and Armenia. AGBU was the organization that brings all these together. I joined it in April 2016 when I felt I needed to engage more to help my forefathers’ land, Artsakh.
Can you please describe your experience as a leading member of the YERIA delegation during the war in Artsakh in 2020?
It was one of the hardest moments in my life. I joined the YERIA delegation to Armenia with a group of two Spanish MPs, a political advisor, and three journalists from major Spanish media outlets. Some of us made it to Artsakh in early November, while it was still under bombings, to witness what was happening on the ground. All the roads from Yerevan to Stepanakert were covered in blood and the shells of bombed cars by Turkish UAVs. We witnessed how civilian infrastructures were indiscriminately bombed, including residential areas, markets, schools, hospitals, electricity lines, and all types of civilian infrastructure. We also witnessed the phosphorus and cluster bombs used by Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Turkey tried to destroy an entire country and commit a new genocide. I felt one more time in my flesh the consequences of Azerbaijan’s actions, as my family did in the 90s. In Stepanakert, I promised to do whatever possible to help Artsakh and its population. Upon my return to Spain, I became committed to showing the world what was happening in Armenia and Artsakh to avoid a new genocide. With AGBU YP Madrid, we put together a roadmap to inform the local political class on what was happening on the ground, thus contributing to adopting several pro-Armenian motions in the Spanish Parliament. Likewise, several articles were also published in mainstream Spanish media and reports aired on public radio.
As a contributor to AGBU EmpowerHer, could you tell us what you observed from the women entrepreneurs in Armenia and why this program is relevant?
Remarkably, Diana Abgar was the first female diplomat in the world appointed as the Consul of the First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920) to Japan. The strength and perseverance of Armenian women are unique, and we can say that Armenian women are the backbone of our nation. Therefore, nowadays, we must stay at the forefront and work together as a nation to reach complete equality between men and women. In this regard, women’s economic participation and empowerment are essential to strengthening women’s rights. During the program, I have seen their desire to prosper, create, and build a better future for their families and the country. You could feel the fire in their eyes and how they wanted to succeed. They need a little help to fulfill all their plans and dreams, and the EmpowerHer program is the right tool to gain financial and social independence. If Armenians from the Diaspora want to engage more in the development of Armenia and Artsakh, such programs are essential, and I strongly recommend supporting them.
How has your involvement with AGBU shaped who you are with your family, your friends, and your career?
It is challenging to combine advocacy work and managing an international law firm. However, seeing the results of the work we are doing and how we are helping the people living in Artsakh and Armenia means the world to me. Now I better understand my mother and all her sacrifices to help our homeland, raise me and my brother alone in a foreign country as Armenians, and keep preserving our culture, religion, and values — no matter how difficult it was. Regarding my friends, I am constantly engaging my non-Armenian friends to participate in AGBU programs. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing people from various countries believing in a joint project guided by an unconditional love for Artsakh and Armenia. Having said the above, I am also lucky to have a lovely wife who understands all the efforts and sacrifices needed to help our homeland.
What is one thing about AGBU that you wish people knew?
I want people to know that at AGBU, we work together to build a stronger global nation through four main pillars: Education, Culture, Humanitarian Relief, and Socioeconomic Development. No matter your gender, age, sexual orientation, social background, or religion, you are welcome at AGBU, which is why we pride ourselves on our motto, “In Unity is Strength.”
What are the strongest assets of AGBU and which program would you like to see developed in the future?
AGBU, as an apolitical organization, can unite Armenians worldwide and coordinate them toward building a brighter future for our nation. The youth is our nation’s future. Unfortunately, after the 2020 war, we lost an entire generation. For this reason, AGBU needs to focus on the youth from the Diaspora, Armenia, and Artsakh to help them build solid professional careers that will allow them to develop in their personal and professional spheres and later give back to the Armenian cause.
Regarding the programs, we need to strengthen media and advocacy projects, like the storytelling program in journalism that takes place every year in Goris and trains Armenian journalists to show the world unbiasedly what is happening on the ground. So far, since 2021, more than 100 international articles have been published by our alumni, who are now covering the humanitarian crisis created by the Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Being Armenian is not about having a surname ending in – yan or – ian; it’s about living as an Armenian and defending our religion, culture, and values. As Charles Aznavour told me one day in Spain, “It is our genetic duty as Armenians to help our homeland.” Nowadays, more than ever, our homeland needs our support.