On March 30, President Serzh Sargsyan visited the Armenian Saint Hakop Church of Massachusetts. Accompanied by the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Father Khajak Archbishop Parsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the USA of the Greater House of Cilicia Father Oshakan Archbishop Choloyan, the founder of the Armenia Tree Project Caroline Mugar and representatives of the Armenian community, the President laid a wreath and paid tribute at the monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Later, the President of Armenia had a meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community of the East Coast and made a statement. At the conclusion of the meeting, the President awarded a group of community representatives with high state awards and letters of commendation. In particular, on the occasion of Armenia’s Independence Holiday and for a significant contribution to the strengthening of the Armenia-Diaspora relations, President of the Boston University Doctor Aram Chobanian was awarded the Mkhitar Gosh Medal; for the impressive organization and implementation of the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, members the US Boston area Coordinating Commission Anthony Barsamian, James Galustian, and Ara Nazarian received Presidential Letters of Commendation.
Remarks by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the meeting with the representatives of the U.S. East Coast Armenian Community
My fellow Armenians,
At the outset, I would like to extend to you my most heartfelt congratulations upon the miraculous and glorious Resurrection of our Savior Lord Jesus Christ, and wish you a Happy Easter. I am glad for this opportunity to meet with the representatives of this resilient and well-organized Armenian community and communicate with you in a warm and open environment. Such meetings provide us with an ample opportunity to directly confer with our sisters and brothers in diaspora, to discuss with them issues of their concern, and, most importantly, to present them with the approaches of the Armenian State on the challenges Armenia and Armenians face, to collaboratively look into the ways to respond to those challenges and to join our forces in addressing the issues that concern all Armenians.
“Wherever you go, yell ”Armenia”,” William Saroyan bequeathed. And you followed his behest and established here, in the United States, a dozen of little Armenias. In the course of these days I am indeed in “Little Armenia” of Boston. It is no coincidence since it is the home to one of the largest U.S. Armenian communities, which has made throughout its history a significant contribution to the cultural diversity and development of this nation. It was a matter of salient pride, when I saw the Armenian churches and centers, exhibition halls and museums, visited Armenian structures and organizations, the Armenian Heritage Park, as well as met here with the talented Armenian scientists and researchers. There was a warm and exciting meeting with the Armenian students attending the leading U.S. universities, who study here with the support of the “Luys” Foundation established in 2008. Boston is of special significance for the newest history of Armenia. Numerous young diplomats, political scientists, lawyers and experts in other areas of our newly independent State have been trained in the universities in this city. They brought back with them the best traditions of the Western culture, enriched with knowledge and skills, and currently they work for the empowerment and progress of our State.
I am grateful to the powerful Armenian-American community that has always been with the homeland at the critical junctures of our development, extending helping hand both in the aftermath of the Spitak earthquake and in the course of the Artsakh liberation war. You have greatly contributed to the establishment of the Republic of Armenia, to the social-economic advancement of Armenia and Artsakh by dedicating your time and resources to the settlement of the numerous issues that we face.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Upon the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide we united and consolidated our forces more than ever, and in a unified spirit we have been able to demonstrate to the world that Armenian will is strong and determined to continue its struggle to institute justice, to condemn the crimes perpetrated against humanity in order to prevent the crime of genocide from recurring anywhere in the world.
We have constantly been in touch and, thus, designed, coordinated and held remembrance events both in the U.S. and in a number of countries around the globe. We are grateful to the U.S. regional caucuses for the Centennial commemoration events, to all structures and organizations for their capable and excellent performance on that occasion. It was with your efforts that the Armenian Cause got high visibility in one of the most democratic countries of the world, where the human rights and freedoms are considered to be of a supreme value.
The struggle for survival of Artsakh launched 28 years ago came to prove our unity for national revival. Today the exercise of its right to self-determination by the Armenian people of Artsakh and security of Nagorno Karabakh remain important priorities for all Armenians. Unless Azerbaijan pursued maximalist positions and provocations it initiated, we, perhaps, should have already solved this issue and unlocked entirely new opportunities for these two nations. Our objective, of course, is the settlement of this dispute exclusively by peaceful means, but rest assured: we will not hesitate to take adequate measures in order to preempt and contain possible aggression of the adversary. Our views fully co-inside with the state motto of Massachusetts: “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.”
It is an obvious fact that Artsakh today has established itself as a State with all necessary attributes, such as institutes and structures, and it is an irreversible process. I strongly believe that by coordinating our efforts we will be able to establish Artsakh as a fully-fledged subject of international law and relations. It suffices to note that due to the efforts by the U.S. Armenian lobbying structures, and Armenian members of the U.S. state legislatures and town councils 6 U.S. states, including Massachusetts and two cities, adopted resolutions and determinations on the recognition of the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. I strongly believe that by joining our efforts we will be able to secure new success stories in this direction.
My fellow Armenians,
We should be united and take coordinated steps both for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, just settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh issue and for the economic development and prosperity of our homeland. There are numerous actions that we need to take in this direction, and I expect you to be actively taking initiative on your own. You are, of course, aware that the global economic crisis and economic upheavals did not circumvent Armenia, and it further complicated the conditions we have found ourselves in. Meanwhile, I should also register that even under the recent upheavals that European nations and Russia have gone through, we still have been able to register economic growth of three per cent, while a number of countries in our region have reported economic decline.
The inflation rate remained as envisaged, and it was lower in comparison to the other countries of our region. Obviously, these data are a testimony to the decreasing influence of the external shocks on the Armenian economy, which resulted from the socio-economic policy pursued in our country.
Meanwhile, recent international and regional developments provide us with ample opportunities to increase the economic attractiveness of our country. In 2015 Armenia acceded to the Eurasian Economic Union, thus getting access to the 170-milion populated market. Last May Armenia and U.S. concluded Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which opens new horizons for the enlargement of the bilateral trade and economic cooperation. And lifting sanctions on Iran opens up a 77-milion populated market at the immediate vicinity of Armenia.
I highly value both the consistent work of the Armenian diplomats and active engagement of the Armenian communities in the process of the adequate presentation of Armenia’s investment and economic attractiveness. Taking advantage of your connections with the American business circles, you can give a significant impetus to the foreign direct investments in Armenia. We do not fully utilize the untapped potential of the Armenian Americans; I strongly believe that if they are purposefully engaged the success stories will follow.
I have said it on other occasions and reiterate it today: Come to Homeland, make investments, make profit and, thus, contribute to the state-building, create new employment opportunities and help us with the development of the country. Armenia has got an untapped potential to attract investments, especially in the areas of infrastructure, mining, agriculture, reprocessing agricultural products, information technologies and engineering. It is obvious that concurrent to the development new opportunities arise for large investment, especially in the areas of tourism, healthcare, financial markets.
There are free economic zones in Armenia that provide with tax and customs benefits, and the major objective for their establishment was to attract foreign investment, to contribute to the growth of export through the application of new technologies, to create new employment opportunities and guarantee sustainable economic growth.
The capability and significance of every single one of us is in direct relation to the capability and significance of our homeland. Indeed, it is the only formula for viability of the Armenian people, key to its eternity.
In this context we stand ready to discuss your investment projects, new ideas, creative proposals; we stand ready to establish favorable conditions and environment for their implementation; we stand ready to encourage you exercise your entrepreneurial skills in homeland.
Armenia today certainly needs financial investments, but for the development of our country it more needs talents, skills and invaluable expertise of our Diaspora fellows. If we tap the potential of our diaspora inasmuch as another Massachusetts community, such as Irish, does that would give a great impetus to the development of Armenia.
My fellow Armenians,
We are fully aware that inasmuch homeland expects from Diaspora, to that same extent it should be of help to Diaspora. In this context, we consider the subsistence provided to the Syrian Armenians not to be a goodwill gesture of our State, but a direct obligation of Armenia. It is indeed the duty of our State to extend a helping hand to fellow Armenians in trouble.
Unfortunately, impunity paves the way for new crimes against humanity, which we witness today in our immediate vicinity, in the Middle East. Today the Armenian community of Syria is on the verge of extinction; the Armenian historical and cultural heritage is being wiped out and plundered. It is an ordeal, which we should survive unified. There is a lot to be done both by the State and Diaspora communities. Rest assured that Armenian Government takes all possible measures in order to provide with dignified subsistence to the 20 thousand Syrian Armenians, who sought asylum in the homeland. We have immediately granted them citizenship, provided them with free education, addressed their needs in healthcare, supported their entrepreneurial endeavors and helped them to establish themselves in the homeland. I am glad that the Armenian American community periodically holds fundraising campaigns to assist Syrian Armenians, and those donations make possible alleviation of the plight for our fellow Armenians not only in Syria, but also for those who relocated to other countries. Let us join our forces to help most of them to settle down in our homeland. It is very painful to observe the destruction of that flourishing colony, and we shall take all possible measures in order to assist the resettlement of that community in Armenia.
My fellow Armenians,
This year our nation will solemnly celebrate the 25th anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia. In the course of the past years we have registered victories and achievements in a number of areas and became a fully-fledged member of the international community. We have always relied on our own resources, believed in our future and never yield an inch to the difficulties we faced.
Today Armenia has already entered a new era. Large-scale legislative, structural reforms are being implemented in our country. Their continuity has been ensured by the constitutional amendments adopted last December, which, I believe, will improve the mechanisms to respond to the internal and external challenges the Armenian nation faces. We are going to cover this path together with you by joining our forces for the empowerment of our homeland.
There are still numerous issues to address and missions to accomplish; I think, today we are ready to turn the page of history of our State that bears the “newly-independent” headline and together enter a new era to pursue all-Armenian objectives. Armenia is a dream, and we make it happen true. Armenia is a home of ours and of our forthcoming generations, regardless of our current place of residence. Armenia is, indeed, the warmest and most native corner for every single Armenian, and it will remain as such forever.
The 25th anniversary celebrations of Independence will concentrate on youth and, especially, on the generation of independence. To this end, the Ministry of Diaspora, jointly with Armenian General Benevolent Union, Luys and Ayb Foundation, initiated annual youth gathering under the motto “Let us create together destination Armenia” that will take place from June 11 to June 16. Its objective is to consolidate and provide with a joint collaboration ground to the creative new generation of our independence, scientists both from our homeland and Diaspora, graduate and post-graduate students of the leading world universities, and let them invest their knowledge and skills into the projects empowering Armenia. You too are bright representatives of this generation; therefore, we invite you to take part in that gathering.
I thank you all, all organizations, structures and unions of the Armenian American community for your work for the benefit of our nation, for your readiness to stand for Armenia and Artsakh. Meanwhile, I highly appreciate that you do not spare efforts to remain Armenian and to bring up new generations as Armenians. And we jointly build our powerful Armenia.
Long live free and independent Armenia! Long live Armenian-American friendship!