This year has been a tremendous year of activism for the Armenian-American community–and as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation prepares to mark its 111th anniversary this weekend–it’s appropriate to reflect on the issues and events that have shaped the organizational agenda–promoting a broad grass-roots effort to guard the integrity of Armenian national interests.
In the homeland–the ARF continued to strengthen its organizational base and become an even more active participant in shaping policy by vocalizing its view on a number of crucial matters that affect the daily lives of Armenia’s–not only in Armenia but also the Diaspora. To that effect–ARF leaders assumed responsible posts within government structures–providing the organization with an enhanced opportunity to make a difference in the present and the future of the nation.
The appointment of veteran ARF leaders Davit Lokian as minister of Urban Development and Levon Mkrtchyan as Education Minister only reaffirmed the long-standing ARF approach of extending itself for the betterment of the nation. Furthermore–when Rouben Hakopian was named as Armenia’s Consul General to St. Petersburg–it signaled that the diplomatic efforts of the Armenian government–especially important venues–can bolster Armenia’s image within the international community.
Equally important was ARF’s activism within the Western Region community and the United States in general–since this year presented unusual challenges that shocked and bewildered the community in its continuing efforts to pursue the just aspirations of the Armenian people.
The Armenian National Committee of America–with its Western Region and Eastern Region satellite offices–continued to fight for Armenian issues in Congress–the White House and state capitals throughout the nation as the Turkish lobby intensified its denial of the Armenian Genocide and attempts to thwart statewide measures to recognize the Genocide.
In California–the ANCA-WR hosted a dinner honoring Gov. Gray Davis and California First Lady Sharon Davis. This provided an opportunity for Armenian business leaders to address their concerns with the governor and exchange views on the advancement of the California economy in the wake of the crippling energy crisis.
This summer–the ANCA-WR also sponsored a trip to Armenia with newly-elected Congressman Adam Schiff. While meeting with Armenian officials–including President Robert Kocharian–Schiff praised the extensive activism by the Armenian-American community on behalf of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. He also voiced his concerns regarding several obstacles impeding the lobby to successfully pass an Armenian Genocide recognition measure in Congress.
In July–the nation was appalled to learn that four Armenia’s had been holding secret talks with prominent Turkish Genocide deniers–in an effort to forge a so-called "reconciliation" between Armenia and Turkey. This effort–which was initiated and funded by the US State Department and is being heavily publicized and fostered by the Armenian Assembly of America–had its effects in legislatures throughout the world and prevented the Europarliament from adopting a report that required Turkey to recognize the Genocide as a precondition to membership in the European Union. The efforts of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission–also known as TARC–coupled with heavy lobbying by the Armenian Assembly of America–resulted in the weakening of language in Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–which prohibited US assistance to Azerbaijan until that country lifts its blockade of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The ARF and its affiliate organizations stepped up the effort to counter this destructive force–which obviously has emerged to cater to the foreign policy aspirations of the US and other Western States–by appealing to the public and the community leadership to condemn efforts to thwart the progress made by the Armenia’s in the pursuit of international Genocide recognition.
This unholy alliance of Turkish deniers and Armenian opportunists has gone as far as to commission an independent study from a think-tank to establish the "validity" of the Genocide–as means to accelerate their destructive activities.
The ARF was quick to act and the community–as always–demonstrated its integrity and intelligence in countering this effort.
The aforementioned are just a few examples of ARF activism. It is not being reiterated for the sake of posterity or self exaltation–but rather to further reinforce that the legacy of the 111-year-old party has not waned with the years. In 2001 as in 1890 the ARF has remained true to its mission of protecting the Armenian people against injustice and marshaling the community toward the righteous creation of a free–united and independent Armenia.
The ARF’s vigilance in countering elemen’s that aim to destabilize or hinder the Armenian nation is borne from the promise that the party made to the people that it will forever bear the torch of justice and freedom–the translation of which may be seen in efforts to strengthen the community by pouring countless resources into furthering Armenian schools and creating a healthy environment for the community to prosper and grow with a national spirit that no one person or entity can crush. Those who do–ultimately will be responsible for their actions in front of the community.
The 21st century has brought with it a new set of imperatives. The tragic events of Sept. 11 have created yet another new world order–within which the ARF has an integral role to play–since the interests of Armenia and Armenia’s hang on a delicate balance of the new international climate and the continuing efforts to garner justice for our nation.
With a pledge to continue its sacred mission–the ARF marks its 111th anniversary and asks the community to join in building a better future for the Armenian nation.