Ambassador Jean Goguikian

 Jean Goguikian (1921–2003)

Jean Goguikian was born in Beirut in 1921. After finishing high school, he was trained as an accountant while teaching French at Armenian and non-Armenian schools in Lebanon. In 1943, he received his B.A. in Political Science from the Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth. After graduation, while Lebanon was still under the French Mandate, he took up a position with the French High Commission. After independence and the formation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jean Goguikian joined that ministry in 1945, and after a few years, he became Director of Foreign Service. After serving for 11 years in that post, he decided to pursue his interest in diplomacy and international relations and began his diplomatic career, marking a turning point in his personal and professional life. At the time, no one from the Armenian community had ever represented Lebanon as a diplomat abroad, and Jean Goguikian had to fight hard for this right. His first foreign assignment was in 1960 when, during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, he was named Consul of Lebanon in Tehran, Iran. In 1964, he was named First Secretary at the Lebanese Embassy in Athens, Greece, where he served till 1968. While in Greece, in 1967, he witnessed the coup led by a group of colonels of the Greek military, when King Constantine II was relieved of his duties and eventually deposed. Following his Greek assignment, he returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and after two years, he was named Ambassador of Lebanon to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, stationed in Bogotá, Colombia. During his eight years of service in South America (until 1978), Ambassador Goguikian created and strengthened the cultural and economic ties between the sizable Lebanese immigrant communities of these countries and their homeland, Lebanon. To this end, he began publishing a monthly magazine covering news and events from Lebanon and the Middle East with a special focus on the economy and politics. This helped bring the Lebanese communities of these countries closer to each other and to Lebanon, and allowed the second-generation expatriate Lebanese to build cultural ties with the land of their fathers and cultivate a sense of belonging toward Lebanon. Ambassador Goguikian’s next assignment was in Prague, where he served for five years (till 1983), as Lebanon’s Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Poland during the height of the Cold War. In 1983 and then again in 1984, Ambassador Goguikian was named Lebanon’s Representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations as Head of the Economic Delegation. Jean Goguikian, who retired in 1986, was one of the first members of the Lebanese-Armenian community to reach a senior rank in Lebanon’s public sector, culminating in his post as ambassador. Throughout his long career, he was a source of pride and honor for the Lebanese-Armenian community and contributed to its visibility in the country’s political life. He worked hard to encourage young Lebanese-Armenians to play a more active role in the country’s public institutions with a view to securing a better civic integration.