SYDNEY—The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) reported on Tuesday that it had led meetings between the visiting State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh, the Honorable Arayik Harutyunyan and Australian Federal Senators, as well as Members of the Parliament of the country’s largest state of New South Wales (NSW).
Harutyunyan and Artsakh’s Representative to Australia, Kaylar Michaelian joined an ANC-AU delegation in Australia’s capital Canberra, March 21.
In his meeting with Senator Janet Rice, Harutyunyan extended his government’s and people’s official gratitude to her party, The Australian Greens, which became the first Australian political party to recognise the right to self-determination of the Republic of Artsakh in Dec. 2017, through their NSW branch.
His meetings included one with Senator Kristina Keneally, who went on record during the 2017 Bennelong By-Election in support of Artsakh, Harutyunyan expressed his nation’s thanks.
“Today’s visit to Canberra, and the reception received by Minister Harutyunyan from Senators Rice, Keneally and others, represent the building blocks that will lead to eventual national and international recognition of the democratic state of the Republic of Artsakh,” said Haig Kayserian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).
The delegation also attended Senate Question Time, which was a unique experience in Westminster democracy for Harutyunyan.
“I thank the Australian parliamentarians for their warm hospitality and their support of Artsakh,” Harutyunyan commented. “I am looking forward to greeting them in our homeland in the near future.”
“Australia is a wonderful country and its democracy is one we will certainly learn from,” he added. “I valued this opportunity to experience Australia’s Parliament and political processes first-hand, and I am encouraged by the Armenian National Committee of Australia’s work on the ground in informing the country’s political leaders on the development of a democracy built on human rights and self-determination in Artsakh.”
On March 14, ANC-AU led a similar delegation including Harutyunyan and Michaelian to the NSW Parliament, where a meeting was held with members of the NSW Armenia-Australia Friendship Group.
The meeting was chaired by Member of Parliament Jonathan O’Dea, the Chair of the NSW Armenia-Australia Friendship Group, and saw members of the ever-growing group reinforce their support for the Republic of Artsakh and its people’s right to self-determination, which was formalized by a motion in the NSW Legislative Council in 2012.
Harutyunyan thanked the NSW Parliament for standing with the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh by recognizing their Independence and rights to self-determination. He also personally thanked O’Dea, and Members of Parliament Dr. Hugh McDermott and Damien Tudehope for their speeches in Parliament earlier this month, commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Sumgait Massacres.
Harutyunyan also visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial Khatchkar (cross-stone) within the Peace Garden of Parliament House, and paid his respects to the 1.5 million victims of the first genocide of the 20th century, which was recognized by the NSW Parliament in 1997, and reaffirmed in 2013.
On March 20, ANC-AU’s Honorary Chairman, Greg Soghomonian accompanied Harutyunyan on an exploratory trip to businesses serving Australian primary industries across the state of NSW. Harutyunyan was able to witness cheese making and wine making techniques and technologies used in Australia, and was also greeted by the Armenian-Australian owner of Weston Aluminium, Garbis Simonian at their giant Kurri Kurri plant.
The Minister was very impressed, and promised to take back ideas to the Republic of Artsakh, as the fledgling democracy continues to build towards an economic self-sustainable future.
Harutyunyan was visiting Australia as a guest of the Republic of Artsakh’s Representative to Australia, Kaylar Michaelian on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Artsakh Liberation Movement. He was a special guest at the #ARTSAKHSTRONG Telethon, Sydney events marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), and promoted the Artsakh Roots Investment (ARI) program with the group’s visiting representatives to the local business community, who responded with strong support.
Harutyunyan also met with the community at information evenings held in Sydney and Melbourne.
“We were privileged with the visit of Mr. Arayik Harutyunyan, and he was very encouraged by the Armenian-Australian community’s support for everything Artsakh,” commented Michaelian.