PASADENA–Armenia’s newly elected member of parliament Rouben Hakopian brought a message of hope and discussed lessons from mistakes past during his keynote address to 1500 community members at a celebration Sunday evening–at Pasadena City College’s Sexson auditorium–marking the 81st anniversary of the Republic of Armenia.
The celebration sponsored by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee of Western US–became a forum for the ARF to articulate and reaffirm its commitment to the strengthening of the Armenian Republic.
Hakopian’s presence as the keynote speaker symbolized the changing political landscape in Armenia–since–before arriving in the United States–Hakopian–along with seven other colleagues–began work in Armenia’s newly-elected National Assembly–representing the ARF bloc for the first time since in five years.
Hakopian was greeted by the crowd with a standing ovation and cheers as he was escorted into the large auditorium by ARF Western US Central Committee chairman Hovig Saliba. Present at the celebration were Western Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian; Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian; Rev. Joseph Matossian of the Armenian Evangelical Church; Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian; Armenia’s Consul to Los Angeles–Armen Hairapetian; representatives of the Social-Democratic Hunchakian party Harutiun Sagherian and Arshak Kazandjian; Prelacy Executive Council chairman Vatche Madenlian; the mayor of Bourdj Hammoud–Lebanon Tsolag Tutelian.
A proclamation was presented on the occasion of Armenian Independence Day by Sen. Adam Schiff.
Hakopian began his remarks by congratulating the Western Region community on the celebration of the May 28–on behalf of the newly-elected ARF parliamentary bloc and the people of Armenia.
In his remarks Hakopian focused on the successes and mistakes of the past–stressing that while there were mistakes–their lessons were being taken.
"The message of May 28 is that based on the experience we have gained–we should be able to recognize the meaning of that event–yet also address the shortcomings," said Hakopian.
The member of parliament stated that in 1991–when independence was knocking at Armenia’s door–the people of Armenia were united in telling the world and expressing their will for independence from Soviet rule. However–he pointed out–that the Armenian people were unable to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the independence–to come together and truly become a united nation.
Hakopian also stressed that due to the semi-criminal government ruling the country–the Armenian people lost the opportunity to immediately foster democratic principles–adding that furthermore–one-third of the Armenian population fled the country.
In his remarks–Hakopian emphasized that the creation of the second Armenian Republic–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic–was the most important accomplishment of the past 10 years–adding that currently Karabakh enjoys the de-facto recognition of international players in the region.
He concluded his remarks by outlining that the current Armenia-Diaspora relations breath hope for a brighter future for Armenia–stressing that the Armenian people no longer have the luxury to make mistakes.
In his remarks–Consul General Melkonian stressed that May 28 became a day of reawakening and rebirth for the Armenian people–the message from which led to the re-establishment of Armenia’s independence in 1991.
Melkonian announced that Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian will be traveling to Los Angeles to consult with the community and discuss the upcoming Homeland-Diaspora conference scheduled to take place in Armenia in September.
In his message on behalf of the ARF Western US Central Committee–Mardig Gaboudian stressed that as the largest Armenian concentration outside of Armenia–the Armenian-American community has a unique role in the Armenian reality.
He added that the responsibilities placed upon the Armenian-American community was successfully undertaken during the 1988 earthquake and the Karabakh liberation movement.
Gaboudian stressed–however–that the community must cease to become a provider and must begin to assist the homeland in a more organized manner–and become an immediate player in the Armenian reality.
The Armenian Youth Federation–in a message presented by Central Executive treasurer Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian–stressed that their daily activities were being guided by the legacy of Armenia’s independence in 1918–adding that the current activities of the AYF aim to build a bridge between the homeland and the Diaspora.
The program began with a flag ceremony led by the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat chapter scout troop–accompanied by the Homenetmen Western Regional marching band. The national anthems were performed by Garine Avakian with piano accompaniment by Nora Roumian-Bayramian.
The Mistress of Ceremonies Aida Dimidjian welcomed the attendees–and stressed the importance of the May 28 independence victory for the Armenian people–adding that May 28 became a single most important turning point for the Armenian people–who suffered a Genocide and on the road to recovery emerged with an independent state.
The Chamlian Armenian school choir performed several songs–under Roumian-Bayramian’s direction. Also performing at the celebration were the Hamazkayin Ani Dance Troupe–under the direction of Suzy Parseghian and Yeghia Hasholian–as well as popular patriotic singer Karnig Sarkissian–whose performance culminated the celebration.