Representatives of the ARF Bureau and the Central Committees of the Eastern and Western U.S. met in Chicago on March 18 to discuss issues concerning Armenian Americans, the situation in the Middle East, and the upcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia. Mgrditch Mgrditchian from Lebanon and Hagop Der Khatchadourian from Canada represented the Bureau.
A day earlier, a reception took place with the presence of the delegates and members of Chicago’s Armenian American community. Around 150 attended the event, among them spiritual leaders, members of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), and students.
“Krisdapor” Gomideh representative Greg Bedian gave opening remarks, welcoming the guests. ARF Eastern Region Central Committee Chair Antranig Kasbarian moderated the event. Der Khatchadourian then spoke about the challenges facing Armenia on the eve of the parliamentary elections, including its economic conditions, security concerns, and emigration issues. He spoke about the ARF’s support of the 100 percent party-list proportional representation system, adding that those European countries that started by having plurality vote in single-member constituencies, later switched to proportional representation system. He also noted that the elections were a chance for regime change.
Mgrditchian then spoke about Hai Tahd and the situation in the Middle East. Regarding the former, he noted how in recent years, the demand for recognition had turned into a demand for reparations. In that context, he said the Catholicosate of Cilicia had recently organized a conference titled, “From Recognition to Reparations,” with the participation of both Armenian and non-Armenian legal experts, political analysts, academics, genocide scholars, and the representatives of various organizations. Mgrditchian also spoke about the Syrian Armenian community and the recent parliamentary elections, saying that one would be wrong to characterize the community as an entity that does not exercise political will, only serving the role of an appendage to the authorities. He also reminded the audience of the Lebanese Armenian community’s position of positive neutrality during the Lebanese Civil War.