Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulian headlines Congressional observance marking 20th Anniversary of Karabakh’s Independence
WASHINGTON—Members of Congress joined with Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulian and Parliament Member Zoya Lazaryan at the Capitol Hill commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Republic’s independence.
The September 13 event, co-hosted by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic office in Washington, and Armenian American groups was held at the historic Rayburn House Office Building’s Gold Room, with the participation of a broad cross-section of the Armenian American community and Congressional staff.
Throughout the evening, Members of Congress, including Congressional Caucus CoChairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ed Royce (R-CA), as well as Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Costa (D-CA), Robert Dold (R-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) spoke forcefully and eloquently about Karabakh’s robust democracy and commitment to a lasting peace which respects the right to self-determination of its people. Representatives Pallone and Cicilline envisioned a future where Karabakh’s independence would be internationally recognized or reunited with neighboring Armenia.
Eastern Prelate Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan offered a moving invocation during the program. He was joined at the observance by Rev. Father Sarkis Aktavoukian, pastor of the Holy Cross Armenian Church of Bethesda, Maryland and Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan of St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Washington.
In his keynote remarks, Speaker Ghulian stressed that clear security guarantees must be included in any peace settlement, given Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against the people of Karabakh. “We realize that the status quo is not what we had hoped for when we embarked on our struggle. Yet, particularly considering Azerbaijan’s openly and repeatedly stated threat of military action, the current situation with all its components represents the system of our security. Any changes to this arrangement without real guarantees and real definition of what peace and our sovereignty will look like are unacceptable for us.”
Chairwoman Lazaryan thanked Members of Congress for their ongoing commitment to sending U.S. aid to Nagorno Karabakh. “20 years of independence have proved that Artsakh can address its own economic and social challenges. And this has been possible in significant extent due to the assistance provided by the United States. We appreciate this. I am confident that when adopting this decision, US Congress knows these resources will contribute to peace in the South Caucasus.”
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Tatoul Markarian offered a moving defenseof liberty for the people of Nagorno Karabakh.
Earlier in the day, Speaker Ghoulian and Parliament Member Lazaryan met with ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian and former ANCA Chairman Garo Armenian, where they were awarded medals for their ongoing to commitment to the cause of Karabakh’s freedom. Hamparian and Armenian accepted the awards on behalf of generations of Armenian Americans who have served and sacrificed in the name of liberty and justice.
During the program, Speaker Ghoulian gave a special award to Congressional Armenian Caucus CoChair Frank Pallone.