ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian Joins Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair in Exploring Growth of U.S.-Artsakh Ties
STEPANAKERT—Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman David Valadao (R-CA) visited Artsakh on Monday, where, alongside government officials and ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian, he reviewed life-saving HALO Trust de-mining programs that he has helped fund as a leading member of the House Appropriations Committee, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“It is great to be here on the ground, in Artsakh, with Representative Valadao, author of the ANCA-backed U.S. House amendment funding the Artsakh aid program,” said ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “Witnessing firsthand America’s life-saving, peace-making contribution to the future of the Republic of Artsakh is, for sure, a proud moment for all Armenian Americans.”
The trip comes just two weeks after Rep. Valadao introduced an amendment, adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, calling for continued U.S. assistance for the HALO Trust’s de-mining efforts across the interior farmlands and villages of the Artsakh Republic. The Valadao Amendment was approved by voice vote, as part of the FY 2018 foreign aid appropriation, which, in turn, is part of a broader spending measure (H.R. 3354), approved on September 14th. Congressman David Valadao was joined in supporting this bipartisan measure by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), House Intelligence Committee Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-CA), and his fellow Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA). The decisive move was welcomed by the ANCA, which spearheaded the launch of Artsakh aid in the 1990’s and has, over the past two decades, secured tens of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to the independent republic.
During his meeting with the HALO Trust’s Regional Director Ash Boddy and local leaders, portions of which were broadcast live on their Facebook page, Rep. Valadao saw first-hand the lifesaving efforts of the organization, which, over the last 16 years, has destroyed over 8,733 anti-personnel mines, 2,584 anti-tank landmines, 180,858 small arms ammunition, 12,423 cluster bombs and 48,572 other explosive items in Artsakh. The HALO Trust looks to complete Artsakh de-mining efforts by 2020.
Participating in THE HALO Trust briefing with the Congressman were Robert Avetisyan, Permanent Representative of the Artsakh Republic to the U.S. and Maria Mehranian, President of the Armenia Fund.
The visit comes a day ahead of a Congressional delegation trip to the Republic of Armenia, marking the September 21st anniversary of independence and exploring expanded bilateral economic and political cooperation. In addition to Rep. Valadao, the delegation includes fellow Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
Congressman Valadao’s California district is home to a vibrant Armenian American community. The ANCA of Central California has worked closely with the Congressman since his election to the California State Assembly in 2010. Shortly thereafter, he sought and won the race to represent the constituents of California’s 21st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Valadao’s family emigrated to the United States in 1969 from the Azores Islands in Portugal. Like his father, the Congressman runs a dairy farm in addition to managing over 1,000 acres of farmland in Kings and western Tulare County, on which Valadao and his family grow alfalfa, corn, and wheat as dairy feed stock.