SYDNEY—A welcome reception was held in honor of the Republic of Artsakh delegation attended by over a dozen Australian politicians, in what was a landmark first day for the visiting team in Federal Parliament House Canberra, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia.
Members of Parliament, Trent Zimmerman and Joel Fitzgibbon—co-chairs of the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Union—hosted a lunch in the Private Members’ and Guests’ Dining Room in coordination with ANC-AU, with the delegation as their special guests, led by the country’s Foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan, Member of the National Assembly Davit Ishkhanyan, and Foreign Ministry official Artak Nersisyan.
Zimmerman and Fitzgibbon both spoke to open official proceedings, after which Mayilyan thanked the attending members of parliament and senators, who he said would become friends of Artsakh. The unrecognized Republic seeks recognition for its independence, which will ultimately deliver security and prosperity for its indigenous Armenian population.
Joining Chair of the House of Representatives Health, Ageing & Sports Committee, Zimmerman and Shadow Agriculture Minister, Fitzgibbon, in attendance was Australia’s Communications Minister Paul Fletcher; Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Kristina Keneally; Committee Chairs Tim Wilson, Julian Leeser, John Alexander and Jason Falinski; Members of Parliament Peter Khalil, Julian Hill, Josh Burns, Anne Aly and Tony Zappia; and Senators Tony Sheldon and Raff Ciccone.
ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian addressed the reception to thank them for their continued solidarity on issues of importance to Armenian-Australians.
“If you poll Armenian-Australians today, they will tell you that Artsakh is the top international issue on their agenda,” said Kayserian. “Artsakh is part of the Armenia that our ancestors were from before the Armenian Genocide, and introducing the plight of its people to our political representatives is an absolute priority for the Armenian National Committee.”
“The Minister’s presence delivered an optimal opportunity for us to spread the importance of Artsakh, but that would not have been possible if friends like you all did not accept our invitation and attend.”
Kayserian said they were looking forward to making some announcements in the coming days, which will help remove the taboo associated with Artsakh in Australia’s parliament.
Mayilyan, Ishkhanyan, and Nersisyan spent their first days in meetings with clergy, community leaders, youth, and students.
The Minister and his colleagues were treated to a guard of honor on entry to the Galstaun College campus, where students welcomed their guests by waving Artsakh and Armenia flags. Students then presented an Armenian-language cultural program for their visitors during a special assembly, where Mayilyan, Ishkhanyan, and Nersisyan exchanged words of gratitude and gifts with Galstaun College Principal, Edward Demirdjian.
The delegation also visited AGBU Alexander School during a day that began with a meeting of the heads of all Armenian churches, and ended with a welcome reception involving members of executives and committees serving the Armenian-Australian communities’ largest organizations.
The delegation also held a meeting with representatives of Armenian youth, organized by the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia, during which Mayilyan presented the achievements during the process of independent and democratic state building in Artsakh.
In all meetings, the delegation stressed the importance of the contribution of the Armenian Diaspora to the implementation of projects aimed at the development of the second Armenian state. They also touched upon the processes of international recognition of Artsakh and the peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict.
“The Armenian-Australian community has put on such a warm welcome for our guests, helping us begin achieving the goals set out by this delegation,” said Artsakh Republic Representative to Australia, Kaylar Michaelian.
“In coming days, we will be joining the Armenian National Committee of Australia for political meetings in Canberra and Sydney, and we look forward to reporting on our results to Sydney Armenians on Thursday and Melbourne Armenians on Saturday.
The delegation received a boost last week, when the Sydney City of Ryde Council voted unanimously on a resolution to form an official Friendship City relationship with the capital of the Republic of Artsakh, Stepanakert.
Armenian-Australian Councilor Sarkis Yedelian moved the motion, which was seconded by Mayor Jerome Laxale, following the advocacy efforts of the ANC-AU on behalf of Armenian-Australians and representations by the Republic of Artsakh’s Permanent Representative to Australia, Kaylar Michaelian.