At New York’s Diocesan Center, Community Bids Farewell To UN Ambassa


Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

Thur sday, August 6, 2009

On Tuesday, August 4, a farewell reception was held at the Diocesan
Center in honor of His Excellency Armen Martirossian, the Permanent
Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations,
who will soon become Armenia’s ambassador to Germany.

Organized by the Eastern Diocese and the Fund for Armenian Relief,
the evening was attended by some 100 people, who gathered to thank
Ambassador Martirossian for his six years of service at the United
Nations, and to wish him success in his new position.

Opening the evening’s program, Diocesan Vicar the Very
Rev. Fr. Haigazoun Najarian spoke about Ambassador Martirossian’s
deep faith and close connection to the Armenian Church.

Fr. Najarian said that Ambassador Martirossian will be remembered in
New York’s Armenian community, just as the ambassador will cherish
the memories of his time here.

Dr. Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York,
discussed Armenia’s uncertain situation on the international stage,
tracing the problems posed by the closed borders with Turkey and
Azerbaijan. Given this scenario, he said, it is critical for Armenia
to have diplomats who can articulate its needs and represent its

"I’m glad he’s going to be our ambassador to Germany," he said of
Ambassador Martirossian. "It will be helpful to Armenia."

Drawing a distinction between short-term aid and long-term investment,
Dr. Gregorian said that Germany and other European Union states should
aim to support such efforts as educating Armenia’s young and developing
the country’s computer, banking, medical, and other industries.

Dr. Gregorian also stressed that the initiative must begin with the
Armenian community in Germany, saying that "charity begins at home."

"I’m amazed at how few Christians support Armenia," he said, adding
that Ambassador Martirossian will need to harness "talent, investment,
and cooperation from the European Union and from Germany."

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian
Church of America (Eastern), recalled the day in 1992 when the Armenian
flag was hoisted alongside the flags of other countries at the United
Nations, and how Armenia’s UN Mission first opened its office at the
Diocesan Center.

"It was a great privilege, and it will always be a mark of honor,
for the Diocesan Center to have played such a role in our country’s
history," the Primate said.

Members of Armenia’s delegation to the UN have likewise been closely
involved with the Armenian Church and the larger Armenian community
in New York.

"To our own people, Armen has been the kind of ambassador who goes
far beyond his formal diplomatic mandate, to be helpful to Armenians
in whatever way possible," the Primate said. "The Armenian-American
community has been blessed to enjoy Armen’s attention, his activity,
his brotherly advice and goodwill."

"From his earliest days in America, he has felt at home here at
St. Vartan Cathedral, and Armen, Anahit, and their family were always
in attendance at events here and in churches around our Diocese."

But above all, Archbishop Barsamian said, Ambassador Martirossian
"has shown himself to be a master of working within the UN, and with
his colleagues, to advance intelligent and just solutions to the
issues of the day."

"Time and again, on a variety of concerns-genocide acknowledgement,
the status of Nagorno-Karabagh, and others-Ambassador Martirossian’s
constant attention, his firm convictions, and his efforts in public and
in the background, were the keys to a positive and beneficial result."

Guarantors of Armenia’s Future

Nagorno-Karabagh, in particular, has been a priority for Ambassador
Martirossian and his delegation.

"Karabakh won on the battlefields, and we now have to secure our
military victory on diplomatic fields as well," the ambassador said.

He explained that the issue was especially challenging because the
UN charter is designed to deal with international conflicts more
so than with internal disputes. In guaranteeing both the right to
self-determination and the territorial integrity of states, the UN
charter makes it difficult to conduct talks surrounding a question
that falls under both categories.

Most UN member states no longer support Azerbaijan’s claims to
Nagorno-Karabagh, Ambassador Martirossian said, though he acknowledged
that the issue needs continued attention.

"We ourselves are the only guarantor of a decent future for Armenia,"
he said.

Ambassador Martirossian also spoke about the important role played
by the Armenian diaspora, and thanked New York’s Armenian community
for acting as "a reliable partner" in his ambassadorship.

Recalling the many thought-provoking conversations he shared
with clergy and other leaders of the Armenian-American community,
Ambassador Martirossian said he learned a great deal during his time
at the United Nations.

"It is believed that in order to preserve the national identity,
it is the diaspora that needs Armenia.

Although that judgment is correct, it is not comprehensive," he
said. "From my personal experience, I claim that it was the diaspora
that enriched and strengthened my Armenian identity."

"I give my thanks to you and to the people of Armenia, for the times
I have succeeded," he said, adding with characteristic humility,
"and my apologies for the times I have fallen short."

Ambassador Martirossian will begin serving as Armenia’s ambassador
to Germany starting next week.