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Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan's Remarks at the Ceremony Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Consulate General in Los Angeles

07.04.2019

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Honorable Mrs. Anna Hakobyan and members of the Armenian delegation,
Ambassador Baibourtian and staff of the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles,
Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Vahagn Melikyan,
Your Eminences,
Representatives of Armenia organizations and political parties,
Community leaders,
Members of the Armenian-American community,
Dear friends,

It is an extreme honor for me to be here today to celebrate with you the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles. It is remarkable that Mrs. Anna Hakobyan, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Armenia, who is visiting Los Angeles during these days, has joined us for this remarkable celebration.

As we have gathered to celebrate this landmark event, it is a great opportunity to look back on our achievements of the past 25 years and identify areas for deepening cooperation between Armenia and the State of California in the decades to come. The past 25 years have been marked by growing bilateral cooperation between Armenia and California is areas such as trade, investments, political dialogue and cultural exchange.

Since Armenia’s independence the United States have supported democratic reforms and economic reconstruction in our country. In this sense we particularly value decentralized cooperation with US states. Enhancing strategic cooperation with California has always been critical for Armenia. The 5th largest economy in the world, California is home to the second largest Armenian diaspora community, which is also among the most politically influential communities in the United States. Our goal is to explore new opportunities for developing economic ties with California. The Armenian government welcomes the Bill unanimously passed by California State Senate on reestablishing California-Armenia trade office in Yerevan, which is an important step towards realizing our mutual goals.

Next year we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Sister Cities agreement between Yerevan and Los Angeles, which will be marked by a number of initiatives that will enhance cooperation between the two cities. We appreciate former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s and current Mayor Eric Garcetti’s leadership and efforts in fostering this cooperation and are looking forward to exploring new opportunities for enhanced partnership.

Expanding decentralized cooperation with US states, especially California, is instrumental in reaching our political goals. We will continue to strengthen our relations with elected officials from California, many of whom are Armenia’s most staunch supporters as members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. It is also important for us to expand our cooperation with local officials and members of California State Assembly and Senate. In this sense I would like to especially highlight the role of Armenian-American Advocacy groups and grassroots organizations.

The importance of interconnection between diplomacy and diaspora is now internationally recognized. I am privileged to say that the Armenian diaspora’s involvement in building an independent statehood and overcoming the difficulties during the first years of Armenia’s independence has been instrumental. Formed as a result of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the Armenia-American diaspora has grown to become an important pillar of our independent statehood. The Diaspora’s support and contribution has been essential in Armenia’s survival and development, for which I am thankful to each and every one of you.

It is important to mention also that through the joint efforts of Armenia and the Diaspora, there is significant progress in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Thanks to these efforts 49 US states have now recognized the Armenian Genocide.

I would also like to express gratitude to the authorities of the State of California and city of Fresno for their support in marking the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide and inaugurating the Armenian Genocide Monument in 2015 – a memorial, that symbolizes the gratitude of the Armenian people to the United States for hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees after the Genocide and our joint commitment to advocate for the recognition and condemnation of crimes against humanity. The result of joint efforts of the Consulate General, the Armenian-American community and the city authorities, the monument also stands as a token of cultural diversity and interconnection.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is hard to overestimate the role of the Consulate General in the progress we have made during the past 25 years. The Consulate General not only provides 24/7 support to numerous citizens of Armenia who reside in the Western US states, it also unifies this diverse and unique community. In this sense I would especially like to highlight the importance of the creation of the Task Force to Support the Armenian Consulate General on Inter-Community Affairs, which serves as a helping hand in facilitating work with this diverse community. Among many other projects implemented by the Consulate General in the past years, I would like to mention a number of business and investment forums and discussions, including last year’s “Select Armenia” business roundtable with Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan as a guest speaker. Other important initiatives include the Armenian-Mexican Task Force and the Armenian-Mexican cultural week, hosted in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico with a goal of bridging the two communities. The past few years have also been marked by a number of other important community events, such as the opening of William Saroyan’s House-Museum and the inauguration of the Armenian American Museum in Glendale.

I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate the founder of this Consulate General, Ambassador Baibourtian on his appointment as Consul General and thank him for his efforts in deepening Armenia-California cooperation. I am sure that under his leadership these relations will continue to grow and advance, covering more areas of bilateral cooperation.

Thank you all for being here today. Thank you for your continued support to the Consulate General, your community and your motherland! 

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