YEREVAN–The Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region 2019 political officials’ delegation trip to Armenia wrapped up its first two days filled with a number of high-level meetings with government officials as well as visits to key institutions and sites.
The delegation is comprised of California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis; Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; Chief of Staff to Supervisor Barger Anna Mouradian; Arizona State Senators Paul Boyer and Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete; Colorado State Senator Dominick Moreno; and Colorado State Representative Daneya Esgar. The ANCA-WR Board chairwoman Nora Hovsepian is accompanied by fellow Board members Sako Berberian and Lina Davidian, as well as ANCA-WR’s Community Development Coordinator Simon Maghakyan.
“Our delegation – representing leaders from three western U.S. states and the second ANCA-WR delegation to visit Armenia in the first year since the Velvet Revolution – is here in Yerevan to explore ways to institutionalize and expand existing relationships between Armenia and California, Arizona and Colorado,” remarked ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “By organizing this visit, we wanted to create the opportunity to showcase first-hand Armenia’s commitment to democracy, free market economy, and Western values at-large, and to deepen ties related to trade, education, and support for democracy-building measures,” continued Hovsepian.
The first day of the visit featured meetings and in-depth discussions with Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Avinyan, Foreign Affairs Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and Majority Leader of the ruling ‘My Step’ faction in the National Assembly Lilit Makunts and a group of legislative leaders. The delegation also visited the American University of Armenia, which was especially meaningful due to its direct affiliation with the University of California, on whose Board Lt.Gov. Kounalakis serves, thereby giving her the opportunity to learn more about how educational bridges can be expanded. The packed schedule on day one concluded with a tour of the renowned ‘Ararat’ brandy distillery.
The second day kicked off with an emotional visit to the Dzidzernagaperd Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute to pay respect to over 3 million Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek innocent victims of the Genocide. Accompanied by the museum’s director, Dr. Harutyun Marutyan, the delegation members toured the facility learning about the history and the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, and planted commemorative blue spruce trees in the name of each of the three U.S. states. The itinerary also included a visit to the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, as well as inspirational visits to Holy Etchmiadzin and the Khor Virap monastic complex at the foot of majestic Mt. Ararat.
The evening culminated with a tour of the historic Megerian Carpet Factory and a cultural program and authentic Armenian dinner, music and traditional folk dance.
In the meetings, Armenian officials stressed the importance placed to further deepening the strategic relations between the United States and Armenia, including state-level partnerships, especially in the wake of the 2018 Velvet Revolution and democratic transformations taking place in the country.
Special emphasis was placed on the role of the Armenian American community in cultivating and advancing the bond between the U.S. and Armenia.