Our History

The Armenian Communities, formerly named the Department for the Middle East, was set up in 1956 by two executors of the Founder’s will, Kevork Essayan, Gulbenkian’s son-in-law, and José de Azeredo Perdigão, the first Chairman of the Foundation. The Trustee responsible for the Armenian Communities Department has always been Armenian and a member of the founder’s family. All the other Trustees are Portuguese.

Currently the Trustee responsible for the Department is Martin Essayan, Gulbenkian’s great grandson and Mikhael Essayan’s son. Since 2013, Razmik Panossian has been the Director of the Armenian Communities Department.
Previous Trustees include Mikhael Essayan, Gulbenkian’s grandson and Honorary President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and Roberto Gulbenkian, Gulbenkian’s nephew.

The management of the Department was assumed in sequence by Roberto Gulbenkian, Goriun Kechichian and Zaven Yegavian. During 2012, Astrig Tchamkerten kindly acted as interim Director.

A conversation between Mikhael and Martin Essayan, where Mikhael is sharing stories of his grandfather.