GLENDALE, Calif. — On February 10, 2022, the CA State Senate passed ACR 105, a resolution backed by the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-WR), that establishes a sister-state relationship between the State of California and the Province of Syunik. ACR 105 was first introduced by Assemblymember Chris Holden and was passed by the California Assembly on September 2, 2021. The resolution is jointly authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and lists Assemblymembers Lisa Calderon, Vince Fong, Laura Friedman, Jesse Gabriel, Christina Garcia, Mike Gipson, Kevin Mullin, Luz M. Rivas and Senators Bob Archuleta, Andreas Borgeas, Maria Elena Durazo, Robert Hertzberg and Anthony Portantino as principal co-authors. Additionally, 62 California legislators have been listed as co-authors.
The resolution declares California’s solidarity with Syunik—the southernmost province in Armenia—and will facilitate mutually beneficial educational, economic and cultural exchanges. Armenia and the United States are strategic partners, bound by historical kinship and shared values of democracy, freedom, and prosperity, and the passage of this resolution reaffirms this fact.
“Today, we are grateful to Assemblymember Chris Holden for spearheading the effort in the State Assembly and to Senator Anthony Portantino for seeing it through in the State Senate by establishing a sister-state relationship between California and Syunik province of Armenia. At such a critical time when Syunik’s sovereignty is at great risk under the grave threats posed by Azerbaijan and Turkey, this bold move by the State of California is a declaration of solidarity which in turn will strengthen the resolve of the people of Armenia to stand strong against the ongoing threats they face from belligerent and aggressive Azeri and Turkish actors in the region,” remarked Nora Hovsepian, chair of the ANCA-WR.
“Strengthening the relationship with Syunik comes at a critical time as regional powers like Azerbaijan and Turkey pose a threat to its existence and livelihood. This resolution reaffirms California’s solidarity with Armenia and our one million-strong community of California- Armenians,” said Assemblymember Holden. “There is power in our solidarity and there is even more when we acknowledge the wrongs committed and urge for justice. We set precedent for the future with our action or inaction, and today we are creating long-lasting ties to thread forward a better tomorrow,” he continued.
Syunik is one of the original provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia and is currently bordered by Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, and Iran. Syunik is home to the Armenian Stonehenge, Karahunj, that dates back to the bronze age; the Ughtasar Mountain petroglyphs that are 7,000 years old; the ninth century Tatev Monastery that served as a center of scholastic and spiritual activity. The most populated town in the province is its capital Kapan with 43,000 residents.
In the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s renewed war against the Armenians of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, the Azerbaijani military crossed into the Republic of Armenia and moved 3.5 kilometers into Syunik Province, seizing the entirety of Sev Lake. The next day, the Azerbaijani military breached two other sections of the border and occupied more areas of Armenia. Azerbaijan’s illegal presence remains in Syunik, threatening Armenia’s sovereignty and the people who live there.