SAN FRANCISCOThe Bay Area chapter of the Armenian National Committee hosted a cocktail reception last Saturday–recognizing the long-time support of San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and welcomed Armenian Revolutionary Federation Political Director Garo Armenian.
The capacity crowd of 150 supporters which gathered at the Caravansary Restaurant in San Francisco included cross section of the Bay Area’s Armenian-American organizations.
Representing the Bay Area ANC–Roxanne Makasdjian expressed gratitude to those present for their appreciation of the importance of the ANC and its activities.
"The Armenian National Committee–after all–was born out of the American-Armenian community’s deep sense of justice and democracyprinciples that are rooted as much in our American heritage as they are in our Armenian heritage," said Makasdjian.
She also stressed the importance of all Armenian in contributing to democratic efforts in the US and in bringing Armenia back more firmly on the path to democracy.
"We cannot take it for granted that Armenia will achieve a better democracy eventually. On the contrary our history has taught us difficult lessons. We’ve learned that unless people demand their rights–they may never receive them. It is these lessons and this history that have made us better citizens," remarked Makasdjian.
She also outlined the Bay Area ANC’s activities of the past year: lobbying two representatives who had traditionally voted against Armenian issues–and organizing community events to add to the political awareness of Bay Area Armenia’s.
ANC member Taline Sanasarian introduced Rep. Pelosi–reviewing her long-time support of Armenian issues in Congress and presenting the representative with a plaque and large coffee table book on Armenian man’scripts and history.
Noting the increase in the Bay Area ANC’s support group–Pelosi thanked the Armenian-American community for making America stronger by its commitment to family–work–education and civic involvement.
In speaking about Armenian issue in Congress–Rep. Pelosi talked about her shock as a new Congresswoman ten years ago–in receiving books by the Turkish government denying the Armenian Genocide.
"It pointed out a need for us not only to care about this issue–not only to vote this way–but to speak out very strongly so that never again will people in history think that they could commit such an atrocity against humanity and live to deny it and then to continue to have revisionist view of history the this never took place. We cannot rest until we have the official recognition of the United States of America of the Armenian Genocide," commented Pelosi.
She praised the ANC for mobilizing the community in making their concerns known to their Congresspeople. "Nothing is more eloquent to a member of Congress that the voice of his own constituents–especially when they’re right.," she said.
Pelosi added that the ANC’s positions on Karabakh–aid to Armenia–cutting aid to Turkey– the Humanitarian Corridor Act and the Genocide Resolution were in the US’s own national interests.
Regarding democracy in Armenia–she said–"There is a concern in Congress toward a trend to a little more autocratic tendency in Armenia. We hope you will use your voices to make sure Armenia’stays on a democratic course."
She said she was gratified to receive Armenian Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian as her first visitor as ranking Democrat in the Appropriations Committee–and to hear his assurance that Armenia would stay on a democratic path.
"I’m honored to say to the ANC: thank you for making America a greater country because of the work you do," she said.
ANC member Ara Harmandarian gave a brief outline of the Bay Area ANC’s upcoming activities and urged those in attendance to participate in the political process.
Garo Armenian–the ARF Bureau political director–and director of government finance for the Westinghouse company–said that the Diaspora’s work to secure Armenian independence has been replaced by its work to secure the viability of Armenia as a nation. Key issues in that regard were that status of Nagorno Karabakh–democracy in Armenia and Genocide recognition. He said those issues are inextricable from one another and that are very closely related to the survival and viability of Armenia.
Armenian said that Armenia is alone among strong nations with competing interests–and as such– its link with the Diaspora is critical to its diplomacy. He cautioned that the Azeri lobby–the Turkish lobby and the oil lobby were making a concerted effort to repeal Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act (banning aid to Azerbaijan until it lifts its blockade of Armenia)–one area among many which the Diaspora must work hard to help secure Armenia’s "diplomacy of existence."
In order for the Diaspora to be effective in promoting this diplomacy–Armenian-Americans must support the activities of political organizations like the ANC–said Armenian.