That’s what she might better be named, our Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Marie Yovanovitch to the Republic of Armenia. I’d heard enough Turkish to come up with this interlinguistic pun, though I verified the meaning. Yavan means insipid. By all accounts, her presentation (repeated at each stop of her tour of Armenian communities in the U.S., per my brief conversation with her) was just that—insipid. At best… However, given just how underwhelming her speech and ensuing Q&A session was, I must wonder if she and her handlers weren’t being yaman (again Turkish, for clever or sneaky).

What did these people hope to accomplish? Whatever it was, they didn’t. Her tour served nothing but to discredit the State Department and the Obama Administration even more in the eyes of Armenian communities here in the U.S. When she addressed Obama’s genocide non-statement, she prefaced her remarks with, “I know nothing I say will satisfy you…” That was just too much to stomach and I hollered out, “You got it.” Of course, her “dignified,” “unruffled” plenipotence restarted her comments as if to “strongly ignore” the interruption.

I did some snooping around, talking to folks who heard her elsewhere, with similar reactions. Some people left to avoid punching someone else. Others felt like puking. I think some were incensed. I’m pleased to report that, going in with very low expectations, I left without too much digestive tract turmoil and was able to enjoy a good meal and company afterwards.

The substantive aspects of the event I attended, at the Ferrahian School gym with 275 in attendance per my headcount, have already been reported elsewhere. The same is true of the all the other events Yavanoghloo events. I’ll spare you that. What’s more interesting to me is the degrading, insulting, even humiliating treatment we as a community received. And we tolerated this! Unbelievable!

She forbade the videotaping of her presentations everywhere except for the last one, held in D.C. I asked why, as one of my four questions, none of which were presented to her. Afterwards, I asked her in person. Her lame explanation? She wanted her remarks, obviously and understandably the same set everywhere, to be fresh to those who heard them. She didn’t want them aired or, “worse,” to end up on YouTube. So what is she saying? Our folks, Horizon TV to be specific, can’t be trusted to tape and hold the material until her tour is complete? All she had to do was work out such an arrangement. I’m left wondering what she/they were trying to hide.

You’ll love this next insult hurled at our community. She was to speak to a gathering organized at the AGBU Center in Pasadena. She was introduced at that 9 a.m. Sunday morning session, handed the microphone, then after a whispered exchange, handed the mic back. The organizers announced that she would instead interact one-on-one with everyone. That degenerated into a “photo-op with the ambassador session.” One person who was at the event told me it was evocative of our Ottoman era elites having their pictures taken with the pashas who proceeded the next day to persecute and massacre Armenians. Gotta love substance…

But my favorite was what I observed at the session I attended. Of course the platitudes and general information were the same as everywhere, and a few of her remarks were even informative. But we had something the yavan-events in Boston, the New York Diocese, the Pasadena AGBU, USC, and D.C. did not. Thugs. Two guys from the State Department’s diplomatic security operation stood at the front of the Ferrahian gym on either side of the audience. They were there throughout the program, and of course, when people approached the ambassador after the formal part was done, they quickly ran to her side to protect her from the “ruthless” crowd that had quietly listened to her and tolerated the insulting approach of being permitted to ask questions in writing only. What were they trying to say about the people at the Ferrahian gathering?

UNBELIEVABLE. The State Department, OUR employees, treats us like garbage and we, the organizers and audiences, quietly take it. It’s time to roar our disgust. Let your Congressional Reps, Senators, and the DOS itself know your feelings.


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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1 Comment

  1. Taking photos with her??? Can our community be anymore pathetically disrespectful to our martyrs? Why do some members of our community act as if they are still enslaved to ottoman masters? When will they break these century old chains and realize that we have rights in this country backed by a constitution and protected by a judiciary that allow us to speak out and defend ourselves. What’s the worst that could have happened if 250 Armenian Americans lead by their shrewd community leaders refused to accommodate a double talking genocide denier and her tag along buffoons? Why was Yovanovitch and her thugs allowed to dictate rules on our turf and in our own home? What sort of message do you think a photo-op session sent the state dept? Then we sit bewildered each April pondering over why we were backstabbed. Rather than sending our Ambassador back to Washington feeling ashamed and embarrassed over her government’s ridiculously pathetic stance over the Armenian Genocide we made her feel like an important high ranking dignitary. It’s high time some community members broke their ottoman chains of appeasement and woke up to our dreaded reality.

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