Berejiklian—an Active Member of the Armenian Community—Is a Former Homenetmen Athlete and Scout, AYF member, and ANC-AU Board Member
SYDNEY, Australia (A.W.)—Australian-Armenian Gladys Berejiklian was appointed the new Premier of the country’s largest state of New South Wales (NSW) on Jan. 23, following the resignation of former Premier Mike Baird.
The NSW Liberal Party met on the morning of Monday, 23rd January to choose its new parliamentary party leader, and elected the unopposed team of Treasurer Berejiklian and Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, who will be Deputy. The 46-year-old granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors was therefore confirmed as the first female Liberal Party Premier and will lead the state of 7.5 million until at least the next elections in 2019.
The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) congratulated Berejiklian on behalf of the Armenian-Australian community, many of whom personally know the new Premier.
Berejiklian has been involved in many community Armenian community organizations since her youth, from her scouting and basketball days under the Homenetmen Australia banner, to her days as an outspoken up-and-comer in the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Australia, all the way to her learning and practicing the political ropes as a Board member of the ANC-AU.
Before the community had an Armenian day school, Berejiklian attended Hamazkayin’s Saturday School during her student years and is fluent in Armenian, the only language she spoke until the age of five. She continues to be ever-present in the Sydney-Armenian community.
Since her election as the NSW State Member for Willoughby in 2003, Berejiklian has been instrumental in representing Armenian community concerns in Parliament and educating her fellow parliamentarians on issues of importance, including Federal Australian recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the rights to self-determination of Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh).
The State of NSW has twice recognized the Armenian Genocide and has a Khatchkar (cross stone) in the Parliament House’s Peace Garden in memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. NSW has also recognized the rights to self-determination for the Armenians of the NKR
Berejiklian was instrumental in helping ANC-AU organize the visit to Armenia and Artsakh by a delegation of politicians in 2013. This visit to NKR earned her a place on Azerbaijan’s persona-non-grata list, along with her fellow delegation members.
“Our community continues to be proud of Ms. Berejiklian as she is an inspiration to all Armenian-Australians. This latest achievement is testament to her hard work on behalf of the people of New South Wales since entering public office in 2003, and we at the Armenian National Committee look forward to continuing working with her in the State’s highest office,” ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian said.
Berejiklian has been awarded the Armenian-Australian Community’s Friend of the Year by ANC-AU, as well as earning a Medal of Gratitude by NKR President, Bako Sahakyan.
In a congratulatory message to Berejiklian, Armenian Prime minister Karen Karapetyan wished success to the new Premier and hoped for the further development of Armenian-Australian relations. “We are happy that the Armenian community in Australia, being actively engaged in the country’s social-political life, has its significant contribution to Australia’s development in various aspects, where your productive activities can be assessed as exemplary. I hope during your tenure new impetus will be given to the development of Armenian-Australian relations and the decentralized cooperation between our cities and provinces. Taking the opportunity, I wish you all the success and new achievements for the benefit of the welfare of the friendly people of Australia and the reinforcement of Armenian-Australian friendship,” read a part of Karapetyan’s message.
“We join Armenians across Australia and around the world in congratulating Gladys Berejiklian on her election as the 45th Premier of New South Wales,” Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian told the Armenian Weekly, commenting on Berejiklian’s appointment. “A world-class leader of the first order, she has earned the respect of her nation, rising to the heights of Australian government, while remaining true to her deep roots in this great U.S. ally’s vibrant Armenian community—as so well illustrated by her service to the AYF, Homenetmen, and the Armenian National Committee,” Chouldjian added.