NKR Representative Meets with officials, businessmen, community
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (A.W.)—Thousands of miles away from Artsakh (Karabagh), the state of Rhode Island is embracing the democratic state and celebrating with it the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Shushi.
The series of meetings, visits, and events kicked off on May 17 at the Rhode Island State House, where Armenian Americans gathered to witness the vote on a resolution in support of Artsakh’s independence. The House passed a resolution calling on the U.S. president and Congress to recognize the independence of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR). The resolution also encouraged the republic’s “continued efforts to develop as a free and independent nation,” and praised Artsakh’s “constructive involvement with the international community and its efforts to reach a lasting solution to the existing regional problems.” (Read the full text here.)
The resolution was voted on the House floor in the presence of Robert Avetisyan, the permanent representative of NKR to the U.S. and Canada. Prior to the vote, Avedisyan visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Providence and laid wreaths in memory of the victims.
After the vote, Avetisyan headed to the Armenian Apostolic Sts. Vartanantz Church hall, where members of the community gathered to meet and greet him. During the reception, Avetisyan delivered comments and answered questions.
State House vote sets example
The vote at the State House set the stage for the further integration of the NKR into the international community. In an interview with Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian, Avetisyan said, “I thank the Rhode Island House for passing this resolution in support of Karabagh’s aspirations for freedom, and hope that the legislature’s commitment to our shared values of human rights and justice will set an example for other legislatures in the U.S. and beyond.”
The resolution was voted on the House floor in the presence of Avetisyan, whom House speaker Gordon Fox (D) warmly welcomed in his introductory remarks. Fox also welcomed a delegation from the local Armenian community accompanying Avetisyan: the chairman of the Armenian Cultural Association of Rhode Island, Hagop Donoyan; the youth advisor to the AYF of Rhode Island, Levon Attarian; a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sts. Vartanantz Church, Stephen Elmasian; and a member of the ARF Eastern U.S. Central Committee, Ani Haroian.
RI Congressmen in Washington support NKR
Within a few hours of the R.I. House vote, on Capitol Hill, Congressmen James Langevin (D-R.I.) and Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) made statements on the House floor in support of the people of NKR. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), in turn, issued statements.
“It is more important than ever that the United States maintain a principled stand for peace in this region, show that democracy can be born from conflict, and support Nagorno-Karabagh,” said Langevin. “It is my sincerest hope that Nagorno-Karabagh’s right to self-determination can be affirmed without further loss of life.”
“Twenty years ago, the people of Nagorno-Karabagh fought and died for their independence from Soviet Azeri repression and discrimination,” said Cicilline. “I join the people of Nagorno-Karabagh today in recognizing the 20th anniversary of their independence and the formation of the Republic’s Army and the liberation of Shushi.”
Representative Avetisyan continued his meetings in Rhode Island on May 18, pursuing economic development opportunities for NKR. His visit concluded on May 20 with a community-wide celebration of the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Shushi.