SAN FRANCISCO–More than 150 Armenian National Committee supporters attended the SF-Bay Area ANC annual "Hai Tad Evening" on March 6th with special guests Congressman George Radanovich of Fresno and ANCA Executive Director–Aram Hamparian of Washington–DC. In the elegant Casa de la Vista restaurant on San Francisco’s Treasure Island–members were treated to San Francisco’s beautiful skyline view while being updated on ANC’s work of the past year and its goals for the coming year.
ANC member–Garin Kantarci–introduced honored guest Congressman George Radanovich. "Amidst all of his other important duties and obligations in government–Congressman George Radanovich has also been unyielding in his efforts to bring justice to the problems that face Armenian-Americans." After outlining the Congressman’s many legislative initiatives on Armenian-American issues–Kantarci cited the Congressman’s most recent contribution–quoting Radanovich’s recent statemen’s to Secretary of State Albright regarding the administration’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide. "This complicity in Turkey’s denial represents a serious moral failing on the part of the administration and undermines our standing of impartial mediator in the current conflicts in the region," said Radanovich.
Congressman Radonovich spoke about his Croatian ethnic background and family’s immigration to the United States–and discussed how his friendship with Armenia’s–while growing up in the Fresno region–positively influenced him. He emphasized how important the role of personal ties are in influencing decision making in Congress–commenting about a disturbing remark by a less-informed colleague in the Congress who told him to "tell the Armenia’s to get over it." Radanovich stressed his belief in Christian values–saying–"There can be no forgiveness without a confession."
This year Congressman Radanovich will be co-sponsoring a bill with Congressman Rogan on the Armenian Genocide. Since his last election–in which he garnered more than 80 percent of the vote–Radanovich has recently been appointed to the House International Relations Committee where he is expected to play a critical role in determining policies and legislation.
"Our challenges are far more complex than 15 or 20 years ago," said ANCA’s Executive Director–Aram Hamparian. "Today we are against a much more powerful opposition." Hamparian coordinates the work of ANCA through its two regional headquarters and its 45 local chapters–and is spokesperson to the Administration–to Congress–and to Washington’s foreign policy community. In his speech–he outlined the multi-faceted challenges ahead–including the cuts in humanitarian aid to Armenia–the lack of expended funds appropriated to Nagorno-Karabagh–and the powerful fight against the Turkish and Azeri lobby–the oil lobbyists–and others who sided with Azeri interests.
"Our goals and hard work are to help bring about a balanced US policy–respecting Nagorno-Karabakh’s self determination and its security needs." Inspiring the audience–Hamparian stated–"We must build a stronger and more effective voice and we must have faith in our own strength. As we do–we will grow stronger and realize our full potential–and having done our part–we will help carry our nation forward through a period of crisis and toward a better future."
ANC spokesperson Roxanne Makasdjian discussed the activities of the Bay Area ANC–mobilizing Bay Area Congressional representatives and the community to fight the removal of the ban on aid to Azerbaijan; contributing to various November election campaigns; fighting Turkey’s Genocide denial through a broad Genocide curriculum project in the Bay Area public schools and helping prevent the establishment of Turkish Studies Chairs at area universities. Makasdjian also discussed ANC’s public affairs events for the community–which included bringing Prof. Richard Hovannisian–Prof. Armen Aivazian–Ambassador Peter Tomsen–State Senator Quentin Kopp–and most recently–Prof. Vahakn Dadrian to speak on their subjects of expertise. This year the ANC SF-Bay Area engineered a website (www.ancsf.org) to help keep the community aware and involved in local grass-roots activities.