WASHINGTON—Armenia’s new President Armen Sarkissian reaffirmed his country’s abiding partnership with the United States—pledging the continued expansion of bilateral ties—during a powerful keynote address Tuesday before a capacity Capitol Hill crowd celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first Armenian Republic, organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) of the Eastern U.S, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), and the Embassy of Armenia.
The event was live-streamed on the ANCA Facebook page and by Voice of America Armenian division. The ANCA’s coverage is available below:
“The 21st century, is going to be our century,” said Sarkissian, after citing the critical role of the first Armenian Republic to set the stage of Armenia’s advances. “The time when the world was run by interest in energy, oil, natural resources, is gradually declining. The new era is the time when human values, the brain, hard work, honesty, and talent will be driving the world. And this country [the U.S.] is a wonderful example of that,” continued Sarkissian. “We are the only bridge between Europe and Asia; the only bridge between Europe and Eurasia. And, the country status is rising with the real values of diplomacy. The message today is clear. We will do it. We will win. We will show the world not only revolution Armenian-style, we can not only build a country and call it a new Armenia, but that new Armenia is going to be a powerful country, a country that we all will be proud of, and we will march the world being proud Armenians.” President Sarkissian was introduced by Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe were among a dozen legislators offering remarks and participating in the evening’s festivities, including Representatives: Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.). Complete coverage of Congressional remarks will be offered in the coming days.
The U.S. Department of State was represented by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Jorgan Andrews, who offered official remarks, as well as by Alicia Allison, Office Director for Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts. The Department of Defense was represented by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Katie Wheelbarger, Dr. Tiffany Petros, Policy Director for Balkans, Caucasus and Black Sea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Major Stephanie Baugh, Country Director for South Caucasus. Representing the U.S. Trade Representative was Jason Buntin, Director for Europe and Middle East Affairs. USAID was represented by Assistant Administrator Brock Bierman, who had met with the ANCA leadership earlier this year. The Adjutant General of Kansas, Major General Lee Tafanelli and Major Marci D. Solander, the International Affairs Director of the Kansas State Partnership Program were on hand to celebrate the Kansas-Armenia military partnership.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Jorgan Andrews praised the “peaceful popular movement ushering in the new democratic era in Armenia” and pledged to work with President Sarkissian and Prime Minister Pashinyan to “to help bring back the will of your people to combat corruption and establish representative accountable governments, rule of law, greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, checks and balances, and political and economic freedoms.” Addressing the Armenian-American Diaspora, Andrews noted, “we appreciate that you have served as a crucial bridge between our two countries for over 100 years now, we value your insights and look forward to continuing to work with you to strengthen U.S.- Armenia bonds.”
Dr. Hayg Oshagan, representing the ARF Eastern U.S. Central Committee, welcomed President Sarkissian to overwhelming applause, noting that though he is far from Armenia, he should consider Washington D.C. home. “For all the last 100 years, our community has built the infrastructure that has kept us Armenian in these far away shores. The schools, the churches, the community centers, the newspapers, have all established us here as Armenian-Americans.” Noting all the community organizations in attendance, Oshagan added, “This is the strength of the Armenian nation.”
Columbia University’s Dr. Khatchig Mouradian, who serves on the ARF Bureau (World Council), recounted the incredible efforts of U.S. humanitarian John Elder, who, through U.S. assistance, saved tens of thousands of refugees and orphans, who had sought safe haven in the First Armenian Republic. “The generation of Aram Manoukian and John Elder rose up to the challenges of their time. The best way we can honor their legacy is to rise up to the challenges of ours, so that those celebrating the 200th anniversary of the republic will remember us with the same pride that we remember the generation that built the First Republic.”
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, offering brief remarks on the dawning of the second century of U.S.-Armenia relations “based on shared values, interests, aspirations, and sacrifices.” Hamparian explained, “No nation has been more committed than the United States to Armenian liberty, dating back to the time of the Armenian Genocide and U.S. recognition and relief efforts for the First Armenian Republic.” He cited ongoing efforts to deepen cooperation between the two countries, through a new tax treaty and an MCC STEAM grant transforming Armenia into a “Silicon Valley of the Caucasus.” He noted the shared commitment to regional peace through the bipartisan Royce-Engel proposals and the U.S. aid program to Artsakh and other enduring investments in peace. “Together, we can create the conditions for a peaceful, durable, and democratic resolution of status and security issues between Azerbaijan and Artsakh,” noted Hamparian.
Hamparian’s complete remarks are available at: https://armenianweekly.com/2018/06/27/hamparian-remarks-senate-100th/
The evening’s invocation was offered by His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. “We give thanks for the blessings that you have bestowed upon the Armenian people who went out and were given a new life. United States of America: we thank you for delivering us from the depth of despair and unto clarity of liberty,” said Tanielian.
A beautiful musical interlude was provided by qanun players Meri Musinyan, Kristine Engoyan, Eteri Hovhannisyan, and their teacher, Tsovinar Hoghannisyan, accompanied by pianist Levon Mikaelian.
Joining the ARF Eastern US, ANCA and Armenian Embassy at the evening celebration were representatives of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern United States, Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern United States, Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen Armenian Athletic and Scouting organization, Armenian Youth Federation, Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association, Ramgavar Armenian Democratic Liberalk Party, Armenian Assembly of America, and the Knights of Vartan.
The Capitol Hill program launched three days of centennial celebrations of U.S.-Armenia friendship, which include Wednesday, June 27th advocacy day and the June 28th planned unveiling of Armen Garo’s (Garegin Pastermadjian) bust at the Armenian Embassy followed by a reception honoring President Sarkissian. Pastermadjian served as the first ambassador to the U.S. from the First Republic of Armenia between 1919 and 1920. The events will culminate in the kick-off of the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Thursday, June 28th, where Armenian culture and history take center-stage along with Catalonia. “Armenia: Creating Home” will be a week-long exploration of Armenian culture–its influences, contributions, and exchange with diaspora communities throughout the United States. Over a million attendees are expected at the Smithsonian festival, held at Washington, D.C.’s famed “National Mall” from June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, which will include over 150 presentations and panels on Armenian music, food, craft, dance, and film, showcasing traditional practices which create “home,” both in concept and in form.
The ANCA Endowment Fund is a major sponsor of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. For more information on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, visit: https://festival.si.edu/2018/armenia