Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly Ararat Mirzonyan on Wednesday welcomed a U.S. Congressional delegation that arrived in Armenia on a two-day visit. The lawmakers discussed U.S. –Armenia relations and how the two countries’ legislatures can advance those ties.
Mirzoyan, who briefed the visiting members of Congress on the changes that have taken place in Armeni since last year’s Velvet revolution, expressed hope that the congressional delegation can play a role in strengthening of Armenian-U.S. relations.
“The early elections that took place as a result of the revolution were assessed as free, fair and democratic by all the observer missions,” Mirzoyan told his guests, emphasizing that the democratic path of development for Armenia is irreversible.
Referring to Armenia’s foreign policy agenda Mirzoyan presented the position of Armenia on exclusively peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs.
The visiting American lawmakers are part of the U.S. House Democracy Partnership Commission, a bi-partisan group that works directly with partner countries around the world to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislative institutions.
Rep. David Price, the co-chair of the HDP and a Democrat from North Carolina said they followed the developments in Armenia, and welcome the democratic reforms process. On behalf of his colleagues he expressed readiness to support the initiatives presented by his Armenians partners.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Floirda, added that currently there are favorable conditions for further deepening and expanding bilateral relations. In this context he highlighted the role of the Armenian community in the United States, which, according to him, has a significant contribution in various spheres of the life of the USA. The congressman particularly emphasized the importance of activating the economic cooperation.
Joining Price and Buchanan, the HDP Co-chairs, on the delegation are representatives Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.). In addition to Armenia, the group will visit Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Ahead of the visit, the Armenian National Committee of America, in a statement, expressed hope that the visit will drive “progress toward a sustained, strategic upgrade of U.S.-Armenia political, economic, and military relations.”
The delegation arrived in Armenia on Wednesday and was met at the airport by Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigor Hovhanessyan and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy, who accompanied the U.S. lawmakers to Etchmiadzin for a meeting with His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.
The Catholicos briefed the visiting lawmakers about the history and significance of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and discussed the challenges and realities facing Armenia today, including the Karabakh conflict, for which he thanked the U.S. for its leadership role as an OSCE Minsk Group co-chair.
The delegation is also scheduled to meet with other members of parliament, representatives of the executive branch, as well as with members of media and civil society and NGO representatives. Other events will include a session with students at the American University of Armenia and a visit the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex.