BEVERLY HILLS–More than 300 supporters and friends of the Armenian Cultural Foundation gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Friday evening for the organization’s annual banquet–during which $200,000 was raised for ACF activities. It was also announced during the banquet that Mr. & Mrs. Richard and Tina Carolan generously contributed $75,000 toward ACF activities.
Present at the banquet were Archbishop Sembat Lepedjian–representing Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian who is in Armenia to oversee preparation for the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion. Also present were chairman of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Armenian Parliamentary bloc Davit Lokian–Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian–Lebanese Consul General to Los Angeles Dr. John Makaroon and his wife–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Viken A. Hovsepian and his wife–Nora–ARF Western US Central Committee representative Hovig Saliba and his wife Hilda–Glendale City Councilmember Rafi Manoukian and his wife Dzovig–Republican nominee for the 43rd Assembly district Craig Missakian–Democratic candidate for the 43rd Assembly district Paul Krekorian and his fiancee Tamar Karamanoukian and Prof. Richard Hovannisian–Dr. Vartiter Hovannisian and attorney Mark Geragos–the lead defense attorney for Mourad Topalian.
The keynote address of the short program was delivered by Lokian–who briefly commented on the current situation in Armenia–emphasizing the changes that Armenia has undergone since the tragic events of Oct. 27th.
In presenting overview of events in Armenia during the past year–Lokian’s focus went on last May’s parliamentary elections and the tragic events of Oct. 27th which brought to a stand still the results gained from the aforementioned vote.
Lokian said that following the Oct. 27th events–the people of Armenia to lose faith in the government–adding that the events have also weakened Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process–because Armenia has had to devote much energy on resolving its own internal matters.
This–Lokian said–does not mean that Armenia has lost a so-called upper hand at the negotiating table–but rather–Armenia has to expand its resources in stabilizing its own internal situation.
Lokian explained that the ARF supported and continues to support president Robert Kocharian–because he was the only leader to emerge with a national approach to domestic and foreign policy. "He included the Genocide as a priority," the leader expressed. In conclusion he called on ACF supporters and friends to make business investmen’s to improve Armenia’s economic stagnation.
Those investmen’s–he said–must not stem from a humanitarian assistance standpoint–but rather–they must be true profit bearing ventures–which would ultimately enhance Armenia’s economic capabilities.
In his remarks–ARF Western US Central Committee chairman highlighted the activities of the organization–placing a special emphasis on this region’s continued support in efforts to strengthen Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
He praised the Carolans for their unwavering support of the Armenian Cause and announced a recent donation by the couple in the amount of $75,000 toward the organization’s activities.
In his remarks–Saliba also made special mention of the case against former ANCA chairman Mourad Topalian. He noted that federal authorities have mounted an investigation against Topalian for his alleged role in matters which occurred more than 25 years ago. In reality–Saliba explained–the federal authorities’ actions are intended to weaken the Armenian-American community’s lobbying efforts to garner international recognition for the Armenian Genocide and secure US assistance to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Saliba thanked all ACF sponsors and friends–as well as all those in attendance for their continued support and assistance to the organization and praised them for their determination and belief in realizing the aspirations of the Armenian people.
In his remarks to the gathering–Consul General Melkonian praised the role of the ARF in establishing cooperation and unity within the community–as well as the organization’s support toward the Consulate General.
Also speaking was Lebanese Consul General Dr. Makaroon–who commended the Armenian community and also highlighted the important role the Lebanese-Armenian community plays in post civil war Lebanon–where efforts to stabilize the country’s socio-economic situation is greatly assisted by the contribution of the Armenian community.
The program began with welcoming remarks from banquet committee chairman Khajag Dikidjian–who also thanked the attendees for their continued support.
Master of Ceremonies and Homenetmen Central Executive member Koko Balian–introduced the guests of honor–making special mention of the Armenian-American candidates who ran for the 43rd Assembly district.
Arch. Lepedjian said the Invocation and the Benediction for the evening. A special video was presented–chronicling the activities of the ARF Western Region during the past year. The video was produced by Horizon Television.
The program began with the singing of the US–Armenian and Karabakh national anthems by Hovig Krekorian. Dinner entertainment was provided by the Armenian Folk Quartet while singer Anahid Nercissyan performed renditions of traditional Armenian songs accompanied on the piano by Levon Abrahamian.