GLENDALE–Thousands visited the Armenian Expo 2001 held over the weekend at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. Close to 40 companies showcased their Armenia-made products to potential importers. Among the items on display were footwear–cigarettes–computer software–ice cream–mineral water–preserves–cognac and much more.
The Expo was organized by the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce–under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles. The purpose of the Expo was to strengthen Armenia’s export economy while building Armenian American economic ties.
The opening ceremony of the Expo–held on Saturday morning–was presided by the Armenian Ambassador to the United States–Dr. Arman Kirakossian. Also attending the ceremony were Congressman Frank Pallone from New Jersey–and representing Governor Gray Davis of California was Lon Hatamiya–Secretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency.
In his opening remarks–Ambassador Kirakossian noted that there are many industries and areas of commercial interest in sectors such as tourism–computer software–agriculture–and construction. Kirakossian said that Armenia’s most important asset continues to be its people.
Congressman Pallone stated that the Expo is important not only for economic reasons–but also for the message being sent to Armenia. Pallone spoke of Armenia’s economic hardships–which is the main reason why large numbers of people are leaving the country. He mentioned how the average person in Armenia does not necessarily understand the significance of capitalism or even democracy–because these people have yet to witness the benefits these systems offer. The congressman urged visitors to remain committed to Armenia–since it will improve the life of the average Armenian citizen–and allow them to understand that a market economy and democracy is the way to go.
Lon Hatamiya said that a meeting of this size taking place in Glendale–which is home to the largest concentration of Armenia’s outside of Armenia–is quite symbolic. As secretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency–Hatamiya spoke of the agency’s responsibility in increasing trade opportunities for California companies interested in Armenia. "I can assure you that we are taking every opportunity to help develop trade between the Golden State and Armenia," stated Hatamiya.
Also speaking the opening ceremony were Armenian Consul General to Los Angeles–Valery Mkrtoumian; Economic Advisor to Armenian President Robert Kocharian–Vahram Nercissiants; and Glendale City Councilman Frank Quinterro.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by Glendale City Councilman Dave Weaver–Armenian Presidential Staff Director Ardashes Toumanian–and Armen Janian of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.