EVENT HONORS INDIANA SENATOR FOR HIS SUPPORT OF ARMENIAN AMERICAN ISSUES; HELPS STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIP WITH COMMUNITY NEW YORK–NY – Armenia’s from the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area participated in a luncheon reception for Senator Evan Bayh on July 1 at the New York City offices of Robert Setrakian. Senator Bayh is a first-time Democratic Senator from Indiana who has often been mentioned as a potential future presidential candidate.
Robert Setrakian opened the program by explaining the importance of the gathering–noting to the Senator that Armenian Americans had "organized this meeting to say thank you and to show our appreciation for all you have done for Armenian American issues to date–and more importantly–to talk about ways in which we can strengthen our relationship."
Setrakian introduced several prominent individuals and leaders of the Armenian American community–including Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan; Armenia’s newly appointed Permanent Representative to the United Nations Armen Martirosyan; Chairperson of New Jersey’s ANC Kim Arzoumanian; Chairperson of New York’s ANC Tony Vartanian; Executive Director of the ANCA Aram Hamparian; ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian; Senior Editor of the Armenian Reporter Ed Boghosian; and Board Member of the Near East Foundation Antranig Sarkissian.
Aram Hamparian briefed the Senator on issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Touching on the Senate Genocide Resolution–Hamparian thanked the Senator for being one of the first Senators to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 164–the legislation recognizing the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the UN Genocide Convention.
Hamparian discussed several trade and economic issues currently being considered in Congress–including H.R. 528–a measure that would grant Armenia permanent normal trade relations with the United States. The ANCA Executive Director also explained the need to maintain the $90 million US aid to Armenia due Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of Armenia–noting that the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2004 budget calls for only $49.5 million–a major decrease in assistance to Armenia. Other economic issues discussed included the strengthening of US-Armenia relations–expanding bilateral programs–such as the US-Armenia Task Force–and approving the US-Armenia Tax Treaty–and the Social Security Agreement. Finally–Hamparian addressed the issue of self-determination for the Mountainous Karabagh Republic.
The Senator thanked Setrakian–who he has known for many years–and expressed appreciation to all those attending–explaining his happiness in carrying on his father’s legacy by supporting the current Genocide Resolution in the Senate. While serving in the Senate during the 1960s–Birch Bayh had taken a principled stance in defense of the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Senator Bayh underscored the importance of recognizing past genocides in order to help prevent future crimes against humanity. Bayh went on to discuss his 2004 re-election campaign and his insights into the race for the presidency. A question and answer period followed the Senator’ss commen’s.