NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—Robert Avetisyan, the Permanent Representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the United States, made his first visit to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) on April 13 to speak about Artsakh and relations between the neighboring countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The presentation, organized by the CSUN Armenian Students’ Association, took place in response to an earlier campus visit in Professor James Mitchell’s Political Science 155 class by Nasimi Aghayev, the Los Angeles Consulate General to Azerbaijan.
“When Consul General Aghayev spoke at CSUN, he blatantly misrepresented historically-proven facts about Armenia and Artsakh,” said Alina Sarkissian, a member of CSUN ASA. “He jeopardized his credibility as a foreign diplomat by presenting an offensive, one-sided argument about Armenia that would easily be accepted as truth by students who are not educated on the matter. It was critical for us to get into contact with a reputable speaker who could provide the truth towards the range of issues discussed, and Representative Avetisyan was our first choice.”
During his presentation, Avetisyan focused on providing a comprehensive background on Artsakh and tailored his time towards allowing the students to engage in a dialogue surrounding the topic. The lower-division political science class he spoke to consisted of the same group of students who had heard Aghayev’s lecture on March 16. Unlike the format of the Azerbaijani diplomat’s speech, however, Avetisyan spent over half an hour thoroughly answering the influx of questions eagerly asked by students in the auditorium.
“It was an honor to have Representative Avetisyan speak at our university and see ASA’s hard work come to fruition,” said Christine Dashdemirians, President of CSUN ASA. “Consul General Aghayev’s initial presentation was not publicized in advance nor coherent at its core, and we made sure to be both transparent and truthful.”
Following the presentation, CSUN ASA hosted a reception for Avetisyan that was well-attended by the Armenian-American community on campus. CSUN ASA members had the opportunity to thank the Permanent Representative for his efforts and take part in a lively discussion with him about Artsakh and Armenia as well.