Geneva (ARF Information Office)–Armenia’s from throughout Europe–the Middle East–and Armenia gathered in Geneva at the invitation of the ARF Bureau for a fundraising banquet for the newly-established Armenian National Committee of Europe Central Office.
The February 10th dinner–at the Hotel Le Richemond–was held under the high patronage of Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia. The ARF Bureau’s goal of raising a half a million dollars was far exceeded–with a million dollars being raised during the course of the evening for the expansion of the ANC’s European operations.
The establishment of an ANC European Central Office reflects the organization’s recognition that Europe will play an increasingly central role in Armenia’s security and prosperity and in the resolution of the Armenian Cause. As an institution dedicated to ensuring that the voices of Europe’s Armenia’s and the interests of the entire Armenian nation are heard in European institutions–the office will actively advocate on issues ranging from Armenia’s integration into Europe–the ongoing Artsakh negotiations–increased aid–trade and investment in Armenia–and the Turkish government’s campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide.
Among those at the event were Armenia’s Ambassador to Geneva–Garen Nazaryan–Lebanese parliamentarian and Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs–Sebouh Hovnanian–and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia–Levon Mkrtchyan. Members of the National Assembly of Armenia in attendance were Manvel Badeyan–Vahakn Grigoryan–Martin Hovhanisyan–Haroutiun Pamboukyan–Taron Sahagyan–Levon Sargisyan and Vahan Hovhannesyan. Members of the clergy joining with Catholicos Aram I at the program were the Prelates of Aleppo and Tehran–Archbishop Souren Kataroyan and Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian respectively. Also present was the Chairman of the National Executive Council of the Great House of Cilicia–Andre Tabourian.
Also among the 120 Armenia’s gathered for the banquet were former members of the Lebanese Parliament–as well as Armenian businessmen and Hai Tad supporters from Germany–Belgium–Italy–England–France–Egypt–Syria–Lebanon–Iran–the United Arab Emirates–Kuwait–Switzerland–Armenia and Moscow. Also attending were ARF Bureau members from Armenia–France–Argentine–the United States and Canada–as well as ANC activists from Europe–the Middle East and the United States. Armenian Relief Society Central Executive Chairperson Maro Minassian was also among the honored guests. Also present were prominent business leaders from Yerevan and Moscow–including Hrant Vartanian–Gagik Zakarian–Levon Hairapetian–Michael Baghdasarov–Edward Ghoulian–Mourad Mouradyan–and Guenadi Stepanyan.
The evening’s program featured powerful remarks from Catholicos Aram I–who stressed that Hai Tad is a central part of the Armenian identity and the cause of every Armenian and every Armenian institution. He underscored that the Great House of Cilicia has always been at the forefront of the Armenian Cause–sharing with those in attendance his recent consultations with the President of Germany and other European leaders regarding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. His Holiness’ inspirational words and announcement that the Great House of Cilicia was donating $100,000 toward the ANC Europe Central Office were met with a standing ovation.
ARF Bureau Chairman Hrand Margaryan noted that–in the years since the 1988 earthquake–the ARF Bureau’s attention had largely been focused on meeting the immediate security and humanitarian needs of Armenia and Karabakh. The establishment of the ANC Europe Central Office reflects the realization that strengthening our Diasporan institutions will strengthen the homeland–just as the strengthening of our homeland will–in turn–strengthen the Diaspora. The office–he stressed–will coordinate the ARF’s political and lobbying activities across Europe and in various European political centers. He thanked Catholicos Aram I for his kind patronage of this historic undertaking and his unwavering support for the Armenian Cause. Margaryan closed his remarks by thanking all those–both present and absent–who ensured the evening’s fundraising goals were met and surpassed.
On behalf of the ANC of the European Community–Hilda Tchoboyan noted that the ANC had been active with European institutions since 1984. The ANC of EC–she reported–operates active branches in nine of the fifteen European Community nations and works through a network of friends and activists in the remaining six countries. Among the ANC of EC’s most visible successes have been the 1987 and 2000 European Parliament resolutions calling on Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
ANC of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian briefed those in attendance about Hai Tad efforts in the United States and underscored the importance of coordinated action on issues impacting the security of Armenia–the defense of Nagorno Karabakh–and the advancement of the Armenian Cause.
Master of ceremonies Alecco Bezikyan of Italy coordinated the evening’s program–introducing the dignitaries in attendance and announcing all the donations. Bezikian–as the chairman of the ANC of Italy–had played a central role in the adoption of an Armenian Genocide resolution by that nation’s parliament.
Among the major donors were the Armenian community of Allepo–$50,000; the ARS Central Executive–$50,000; the Barsoumian brothers from Lebanon (Ara–Shahe–Jrair)–$100,000; Mr. and Mrs. Melik Meliksetian of Kuwait–$80,000; Mr. and Mrs. Nerses Ohanian of Germany–$50,000; Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Tchoukhadarian of Lebanon–$50,000; Andre Tabourian of Lebanon–$50,000; Apraham Matossian of Lebanon–$25,000; Mr. and Mrs. Vicken Shaghzoyan of Kuwait–$25,000; Taron Boghossian and Pierre Hekimian of France–$20,000–and Razmig Tatevosian of France–$20,000. A full listing of donors will be published.