ARIZONA—Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles Ambassador Armen Baibourtian paid a working visit to the State of Arizona, where he held meetings with state and city senior officials, as well as with Arizona’s Armenian-American community.
In Phoenix, Ambassador Baibourtian met with Arizona’s state House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers. They discussed various ways of boosting relations between Armenia and Arizona and outlined areas of mutual interest. Special attention was paid to the mining industry in the State of Arizona, and in particular copper mining. At the request of Consul General Baibourtian, Speaker Bowers referred to the highest environmental standards that the local mining industry adheres to. Bowers expressed readiness to share the best practices in responsible mining applied in Arizona’s local mining industry, which are based on stringent environmental regulations. The interlocutors agreed that it would be useful to put Armenian government experts in touch with Arizona’s corresponding departments. Rev. Zacharia Saribekyan, the parish priest of Arizona’s St. Apkar, and Chairman of the Parish Council Rafi Hagopian also took part in the meeting.
Consul General Baibourtian’s next meeting was with Tony Rivero, Chairman of the Arizona House State and International Affairs Committee. The interlocutors discussed the steps for developing bilateral cooperation. Ambassador Baibourtian emphasized that, in the spectrum of activities of the Consulate General of Armenia, the task of developing relations with different Western U.S. states, in addition to California, is viewed as a priority. He presented mutual advantages of establishing relations with Armenia.
Ambassador Baibourtian also had a meeting with Mayor of Scottsdale W.J. “Jim” Lane. During their meeting, they exchanged views on efficient ways of establishing partnerships between cities, including “sister city” relations. Mayor Lane presented his city’s appropriate experience in developing effectual framework for constructive cooperation. The Consul General specifically mentioned the role of the Armenian community in advancing bilateral relations with the state of Arizona. He also emphasized that Armenia’s strategic geographical location could become a platform for mutually beneficial business interactions between business communities of Armenia and Arizona, especially in the fields of tourism and services, where Scottsdale gained an extensive experience. Rev. Zacharia Saribekyan and Dr. Stephen Ovanessoff also attended the meeting. The City of Scottsdale has over a quarter million residents. Each year, Scottsdale hosts 9 million visitors. That’s a bright example of utmost efficiency in local tourism governance. The New York Times described downtown Scottsdale as a “desert version of Miami’s South Beach.” Built in 2009, St. Apkar Armenian Church is located in Scottsdale.
During his visit to Arizona, Ambassador Baibourtian was also hosted at the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies of the prestigious Arizona State University. The President of the Advisory Board of the Melikian Center, Ramona Lee Melikian, and her mother Emma Ordjanian Melikian welcomed the Armenian Consul General and, along with the administrative leadership of the Center, briefed him on its programs. The Center received its name in 2007, in recognition of the generous support of Commander Gregory Melikian and his spouse Emma Ordjanian Melikian.
Ambassador Baibourtian also visited the Armenian Genocide memorial at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza. The plaza is located directly across the Arizona State Capitol in Downtown Phoenix.
At St. Apkar Armenian Church, Ambassador Baibourtian met with the Armenian-American community of Arizona. The Consul General delivered an extensive speech, in which he highlighted the role of the Armenia community in establishing multifaceted bonds of cooperation between Arizona and Armenia. Ambassador Baibourtian presented to the community the profound changes taking place in the homeland, as a result of which Armenia has found itself in the positive focus of the international community. The Consul General also discussed the economic environment in Armenia, existing business opportunities, and prospective areas for conducting business in the homeland. He also answered a number of questions presented by the public. At the end of the program, Ambassador Baibourtian commended parish priest Rev. Zacharia Saribekyan for his dedication and outstanding service, after which he presented an official certificate of appreciation to the Reverend.
Arizona is the 6th largest and the 14th most populous (7.2 million) of the 50 U.S. states. The state’s major industries include healthcare, mining (copper, gold, and silver), tourism (40 million visitors annually), transportation, IT, and electronics. More than 12,000 Armenians live in the State of Arizona.