ANCA-WR Delegation Meets with His Holiness Karekin II.
STEPANAKERT-Congressman Adam B. Schiff–who spent his second full day leading an Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region delegation on an official visit to Armenia–met with Nagorno-Karabakh officials in Stepanakert Thursday. The delegation was accompanied by ARF leader–Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Commission for Defense–National Security and Internal Affairs Vahan Hovanessian.
Rep. Schiff spent more than an hour in a meeting with President Arkady Ghoukasian and Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian discussing a number of issues–including the Karabakh Peace Process and current economic and social prospects in Karabakh. Ghoukasian thanked Rep. Schiff for making the day-long visit to the republic to learn first-hand the challenges and the successes which exist in Nagorno-Karabakh.
During the discussions Ghoukasian gave Schiff a detailed outline of the current status of the Karabakh Peace Process–which he characterized as "frozen," because of the Azeri president Heydar Aliyev’s retreat from a number of principles previously agreed upon by both Armenia and Azerbaijan during the Key West talks sponsored by the US government. Ghoukasian added that Karabakh stood steadfast on its principles and would not compromise the security of its people under any circumstances.
Melkoumian and Ghoukasian both emphasized the need for more active cooperation from western governmen’s in the peace process–particularly in aiding Azerbaijan to come to terms with a number of realities today. At the same time–Ghoukasian touched on a number of projects–which are underway in Karabakh as the country moves forward in rebuilding and stabilizing its internal infrastructure.
The Karabakh President went on to thank the US Representative for his efforts in the House of Representatives. He urged Rep. Schiff to continue his work on behalf of the Armenian nation.
Rep. Schiff–in turn–offered his willingness to assist in various ways to move forward the peace process and to reaffirm Karabakh’s right to self-determination. He went on to indicate that once back in Washington–he would look into introducing a possible resolution–addressing these very immediate issues.
Following his meeting with President Ghoukasian–Rep. Schiff met with leaders of the Karabakh National Assembly–including Speaker Oleg Yessayan. Accompanying Yessayan to the meeting were a majority of the chairpersons of the standing committees of the National Assembly. Schiff and Yessayan touched on a number of issues–including United States aid to Karabakh–the role of the National Assembly in all facets of the republic’s life–and possible areas of cooperation for the US Congress and Karabakh National Assembly.
Following a lunch break–Schiff discussed US aid to Nagorno-Karabakh and the various areas of financial need and lack of resources with Karabakh Prime Minister Anushavan Danielian. Danielian outlined the need for targeted and specific aid for Karabakh to be used for projects that have large-scale effects on the daily lives of Karabakh Armenia’s. Particularly–Danielien spoke about the need for a stable and practical water distribution system in the country’s capital–as the lack of regular water distribution creates problems for the country and its citizens.
The ANCA-WR delegation returned to Yerevan late Thursday to meet with His Holiness Karekin II–Catholicos of All Armenia’s–at the Holy See of Etchmiadzin–where preparations are underway for the upcoming celebrations of the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s acceptance of Christianity as state religion.
The Catholicos welcomed the guests offering them a brief presentation on the history of the church and some of the pivotal periods in its centuries’ long history. The ANCA-WR delegation had an opportunity to tour the Etchmiadzin complex museums–where some of the world’s and the Armenian church’s most valuable and unique artifacts are stored.
In addition to the Rep. Schiff–the ANCA-WR delegation includes–Glendale City Councilman Rafi Manoukian–Legislative Assistant to Rep. Schiff–Mannik Khatchatrian–ANCA-WR Board Member Raffi Kradjian and his wife Aline Kradjian–as well as Angela Achigozian–and ANCA-WR Executive Director Alex Sardar.
The delegation–led by Rep. Schiff will be in Armenia until the end of the week.