ANCA: Kerry Thanks ANCA Supporters for Sponsoring Campaign Event

Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th St. NW Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Fax: (202) 775-5648
E-mail: [email protected]

April 1, 2004

Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Telephone: (202) 775-1918


— Discusses Support for Armenian American
issues with ANCA Leaders

LOS ANGELES, CA – Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry
thanked Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken
Hachikian and other leaders and supporters of the ANCA, who
participated as sponsors in a major Beverly Hills campaign
fundraiser that brought an estimated $3 million dollars into the
Kerry campaign.

During a private reception, Hachikian spoke with the Massachusetts
Senator, who noted his long-time support for Armenian American
issues and his close relationship with the Massachusetts Armenian
community. He recalled the 1990 bipartisan Senate battle to adopt
the Armenian Genocide resolution, led by Senate Majority Leader Bob
Dole, noting his commitment to the passage of that and subsequent
legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The 1990 bill was
defeated with a filibuster by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), an outspoken
advocate in the Senate of Turkish Government interests. In a
September, 2003, meeting with ANCA Western Region Executive
Director Ardashes Kassakhian and community activist Mihran
Toumajan, Sen. Kerry commented on the 1990 Genocide recognition
effort, stating “I was incensed when the Turkish lobby and its
allies disrupted the bill in the Senate… It is called justice,
and we will get there together.”

Former Clinton Administration official and leading community
activist Mike Mahdesian, who took part in the event, commented on
the key role of Armenian Americans in the upcoming presidential
race, noting the community presence and activism in key swing
states around the country. “This was a great opportunity to speak
to Senator Kerry and build on his strong twenty-year relationship
with the Armenian American community,” commented Mahdesian
following the function. “Senator Kerry spoke highly of the efforts
of the Armenian National Committee and looks forward to working
closely with the Armenian American community on the road to victory
in November.” Mahdesian served for more than seven years as Deputy
for the Bureau of Humanitarian Response at the State Department and
U.S. Agency for International Development. During this period, he
was integrally involved in the U.S. response to crises in Haiti,
Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Indonesia, and other trouble spots around
the world.

Hachikian and Mahdesian were joined by a leading group of Armenian
American activists at the gala event, including ANCA Western Region
Chairman Raffi Hamparian, Board Members Aida Dimejian and Souzi
Zerounian-Khanzadian, Executive Director Ardashes Kassakian, United
Armenia Fund Executive Director Harout Sassounian, as well as
several other long-time ANC supporters.

The March 30th event was held at the home of noted Los Angeles
businessman Ron Burkle and featured a concert by James Taylor.
Among the notable Hollywood stars present at the event were Barbra
Streisand, Danny DeVito, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Michael
Keaton, Jason Alexander, Lucy Liu, Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio,
Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Christina Applegate, Oliver Stone,
Dustin Hoffman and Angelica Huston.

Senator Kerry, during his long tenure in the U.S. House and Senate,
has consistently been a leading advocate of issues of concern to
Armenian Americans. As a U.S. Senator, Kerry has forcefully fought
for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He is currently a
cosponsor of the Genocide Resolution, S.Res.164, and he voted, in
1990, on the Senate floor for Senator Bob Dole’s (R-KS) Genocide

The Massachusetts Senator has been a vocal and effective champion
of stronger U.S.-Armenia relations and has consistently backed
legislative initiative to increase aid and expand trade with
Armenia. He is currently a cosponsor of legislation, S.1557, which
would grant Armenia permanent normal trade relations status.

Senator Kerry has spearheaded a number of initiatives to lift the
Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades. In 1991, he was the lead
sponsor of legislation, which was later enacted as Section 907 of
the Freedom Support Act that restricted U.S. aid to the government
of Azerbaijan until it lifted its blockades of Armenia and Nagorno
Karabagh. He also worked for the adoption of the Humanitarian Aid
Corridor Act, which called for U.S. aid to Turkey to be cut off
unless Turkey lifted its blockade of Armenia. As recently as this
January, Senator Kerry formally called on President Bush to press
the visiting Prime Minister of Turkey to lift his nation’s illegal
blockade of Armenia.

First elected in 1984 from Massachusetts, Sen. Kerry is currently
serving a fourth term in the US Senate, where he represents one of
the largest Armenian American communities. He serves on the Senate
Finance Committee, the Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the
Subcommittee on Central Asia and South Caucasus.

The ANCA recently released its Armenian American Presidential
Report Card, which gave the Bush Administration generally low marks
on fifteen issues of special concern to Armenian American voters.