Embassies and Patriots
BY DZOVAK KAZANDJIAN
With only two weeks left here at the ANCA national office, our internship would not be complete without at least one protest in front of the Turkish embassy before going our separate ways. To our great delight, we had the opportunity to take to the streets of D.C and join local Greeks and Cypriots as they protested the illegal occupation of Turkish troops in Cyprus, an issue the has been prominent among Greeks since the 1974 Turkish invasion of the small island.
The demonstration, organized by the Cyprus Action Network, took place in front of the Turkish embassy and was small but highly effective- judging by the heated and downright menacing expressions of Turkish officials and bystanders outside and inside the gates of the embassy.
Blasting Turkish music from their speakers, Turks driving by tried to drown out our cries of “shame on Turkey” and “take your hands off our lands,” gradually becoming more aggravated as we continued our chants and ignored their taunts. The Greek American community has always been supportive and present at past ANCA events, so it was great to return the favor and join them in their own demonstration against the Turkish government.
Prior to our demonstration in front of the Turkish embassy, we had the chance to visit our own Embassy, where we received a tour and private meeting with the ambassador of Armenia himself, Tatul Markarian. Ambassador Markarian gave us insight into Armenia-U.S relations and was open to answer any questions we had concerning Armenian foreign policy and life. The embassy itself was very much like an enlarged cozy Armenian house, complete with Armenian artifacts and memorabilia- and much more welcoming than the Turkish embassy.
A few of the interns, myself included, were able to meet Ambassador Markarian for the second time at an ARF sponsored reception, at the home of Ung. Zohrab and Lusine Tikoyan, honoring Armenian soldier Gevorg Nalbandian, who lost his leg while serving as part of coalition forces in Iraq. Despite the daily television, internet, radio and print media bombardment about the situation in Iraq, spending a few hours ‘s one on one ‘s with Nalbandian really hit home. The statistics we all hear now ‘s the daily death counts, news of suicide bombs or roadside explosions — become almost numbing after a while. The horrors and real human costs of war become apparent when speaking with patriots, like Nalbandian, about their service and their future following a life-altering injury. He returned to Armenia this week and our thoughts and prayers go with him.