SAN FRANCISCO–The Armenian National Committee of the San Francisco-Bay Area recently hosted a community gathering featuring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of Marin County–who discussed her recent trip to Armenia and Artsakh. Representative Woolsey spent several days in Armenia and Karabakh–along with several other members of the Armenian Issues Caucus of the US House of Representatives.
Her visit included meetings with President Robert Kocharian–President Arkady Ghoukassian and key cabinet officials–and tours of Yerevan–Stepanakert and Shoushi–during which met with refugees from Azerbaijan as well as Armenian businessmen.
"What I heard throughout the trip and my impression is that Armenia is a sweet–wonderful nation–trying desperately and in the right way to be a democracy," Woolsey told Bay Area Armenian-Americans. "There are challenges to overcome–namely–a bureaucratic environment with a long history which is difficult to change–corruption in government–and initiating the rule of law. However–the Armenian leadership is committed to recognizing and addressing these issues and I believe them."
Referring to projects such as the American Chamber of Commerce–Woolsey said the role of these institutions in addressing the challenges facing Arnenia–should be to promote a better system by example and not by mandate.
Regarding the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan–Rep. Woolsey said that the Armenian leadership made it very clear that positive and encouraging steps are being taken to move the peace process forward. In addition–her colleagues who visited Azerbaijan received the same confirmation from Azeri leaders who pledged that the peace process is progressing in the right direction.
Rep. Woolsey emphasized the need to move from humanitarian aid to economic and development aid. At a refugee center in Artsakh–she said she was impressed by the high level of education present and emphasized that education is key to democracy – building. "Armenia’s can not fall behind in education. They must stay at the cutting edge." She suggested that Armenia learn more about the high-tech world and that it could benefit greatly from instituting education in the field of high-technology.
Rep. Woolsey said she wants to go back to Armenia in the near future and wants to see success and democracy.
"I support Armenia because of you and because Armenia has potential. There is support in the House of Representatives because of what you do for your homeland. Thank you for the meeting with me today and keeping me up to date on Armenian issues–this makes it easy for me to do right thing."
Representatives of the San Francisco – Bay Area ANC attended a recent fund-raiser to Rep. Woolsey in San Francisco and met with her in Washington during the visit of Armenia’s Prime Minister Vazken Sargsyan on September 30.