BEVERLY HILLS–More than 250 supporters and friends of the Armenian Cultural Foundation gathered at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel last Friday evening for the organization’s annual banquet–during which more than $100,000 was raised for ACF activities.
Present at the banquet were Western Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian–Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian. Also present were Armenia’s Minister of Education Levon Mkrtchyan–Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Valery Mkrtoumian–Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Education Minister Hamlet Grigoryan–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovsepian and his wife–Nora–ARF Western US Central Committee representative Viken Yacoubian and his wife Azeita–chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America Ken Hachikian and Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian.
The keynote address of the short program was delivered by Mkrtchyan–who briefly commented on the current situation in Armenia–emphasizing the changes that Armenia has undergone in the past several months.
Mkrtchyan also discussed the state of education in Armenia–commenting on several reform programs initiated by the ministry to ensure that the education of the future generation of Armenia’s is conducted in a contemporary manner.
He encouraged exchanges between students in the Diaspora and Armenia–stating that as soon as the university system is incorporated within the framework of the European Union and the United States–students can go to Armenia and study in universities–the credits from which will be honored in US and Western institutions.
Mkrtchyan also discussed the Diaspora’s role in furthering the development of Armenia–highlighting the political and grass-roots activities carried in the US on behalf of Armenian interests.
In his remarks–ARF Western US Central Committee chairman highlighted the activities of the organization–placing a special emphasis on this region’s continued support in efforts to strengthen the ARF’s ties with the community and enhancing of the organization’s presence at crucial junctures in our community life.
In his remarks–Yacoubian also made special mention of efforts to establish an artificial reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey via the efforts of the so-calledTurkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission. The ARF leader warned that despite announcemen’s that TARC has ceased to exist–effort–spearheaded by the US State Department are still ongoing to press for a rapprochement between the two countries–without the discussion of the Armenian Genocide.
Yacoubian briefed the participants about the accomplishmen’s of the ARF in the past year–emphasizing unprecedented events such as the pilgrimage in March to the Soghomon Tehlirian monument in Fresno–the recent April 24 commemoration events and the restructuring of the ARF media outlets to better serve the community.
He also made special mention of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region–whose offices and chapters have been instrumental in activating the community.
The ARF chairman thanked all ACF sponsors and friends–as well as all those in attendance for their continued support and assistance to the organization and praised them for their determination and belief in realizing the aspirations of the Armenian people.
Also speaking was ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian–who highlighted the activities of the grass-roots public advocacy organization.
"The national interests and international sentiment in support of making whole the Armenian victims of the Genocide has largely disappeared. In their place–we see today an international order–very sadly led by the US–which almost universally seeks Turkey’s absolution of responsibility for any but the most superficial steps to come to terms with this crime," explained Hachikian.
"This pressure has increased in the decade of Armenia’s independence and was accelerated–most recently–after September 11 by Turkey’s role in the war on terrorism. Other factors have contributed to the lack of support for the Armenian Cause including Turkey’s security relationship with the US and NATO and international interest in Caspian energy resources," he added.
"On the other side of the equation–we have a critical mass of Armenia’s–in Armenia and around the world–who are committed to a just resolution of the Armenian Cause and the creation of a favorable post-Cold War regional balance of power. The ANC is the pole around which these forces organize," said the ANCA chairman.
"For Turkey and its allies among the most powerful nation states– this means forcing Armenia to accept normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations on their terms. They would like to open this new – post Cold War-era with Armenia dropping the Genocide issue–Armenia forgoing land–property–monetary claims–Armenia formalizing the current border–Armenia abandoning Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan and Armenia’s integration into a Turkey-dominated regional economic and political system," he explained.
"Turkey and its allies have sought to accomplish these goals by exercising their geopolitical leverage to pressure Armenia and–to the extent possible–Diasporan Armenia’s to disown the Armenian Cause. They have augmented this pressure on Armenia and the Diaspora through both overt and covert interference and manipulation of Armenian public policy and advocacy structures–the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) being a prime example," said Hachikian.
"TARC is–at its heart–a Turkish and US State Department initiative. The fact that the Turkish side chose this juncture to undertake the initiative would indicate that they consider the environment conducive to a favorable resolution of the Armenian-Turkish conflict," explained the ANCA leader.
The program began with welcoming remarks from banquet committee chairman Sarkis Kitsinian–who also thanked the attendees for their continued support and praised the organization for its countless activities to benefit the Armenian Cause.
Master of Ceremonies and community activist Charlie Ghalian–introduced the guests of honor–making special mention of the ACF and its family of organizations that through their volunteer member base have been able to achieve some the biggest accomplishmen’s in the community.
Bishop Mardirossian said the Invocation–while Arch. Hovsepian said the Benediction for the evening.
The program began with the singing of the US–Armenian and Karabakh national anthems by Garen Gharibian. Dinner entertainment was provided by the Armenian Folk Quartet while singer Razmig Mansourian performed renditions of traditional Armenian songs accompanied on the piano by Artashes Kartalyan.