Prelacy Hosts Town Hall Meeting With Heffern

Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian presents Ambassador Heffern with a memento

LA CRESCENTA—The Western Prelacy hosted a town hall meeting Friday with U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John A. Heffern at the “Dikran and Zarouhie Der Ghazarian” Hall. The Ambassador was accompanied by his wife Libby and Jeffrey Paretchan, USAID Armenia Public Private Alliance Specialist and Diaspora Outreach Coordinator.

Upon his arrival the Ambassador had a private meeting with Western Prelate. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian in his office, after which they headed to the “Sulahian” Reception Room for a meeting with Religious and Executive Councils representatives.

The town hall began at 7 p.m. with welcoming remarks by United Armenia Fund President and California Courier publisher Harut Sassounian, who served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

The Prelate then delivered his message in which he reflected on the 24th anniversary of the Armenia earthquake and the 20th anniversary of U.S.-Armenia relations.

Sassounian then spoke briefly on the role of an Ambassador and after presenting Ambassador Heffern’s biography, invited the honored guest to make his presentation.

Through a slide-show presentation, Ambassador Heffern presented the Embassy’s mission goals in Armenia which are to help Armenia succeed as a democratic, prosperous, and secure country, and elaborated on the work the Embassy doing in various realms to achieve this goal.

A question and answer session followed moderated by Executive Council member Ani Mgrdichian-Garikian.

In conclusion, as a token of appreciation for taking the time to address our community, the Prelate presented Ambassador Heffern with the book “Rescued Armenian Treasures from Cilicia” and his wife Libby with a pearl cross.


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One Comment;

  1. Berge Jololian said:

    The US Ambassador to Armenia stated among many things, that the “trade with Iran was bad for Armenia”; and that US SD “would like Armenia to keep looking to the west” Members of the audience in Watertown, MA questioned (grilled) the ambassador on these two points.

    Why is Armenia trade with Iran bad for Armenia?
    Why should Armenia trust the West now?

    The audience pointed out that Turkey has on-going trade with Iran in the billions of dollars, and yet the US SD chooses to flex it muscles on Armenia’s meager trade of under US $200 million. – The ambassador had no convincing answer to that.

    The audience pointed out that the US SD provides aid to Georgia in the billions of dollars each year, and only a meager 40 million dollars to Armenia with all kinds of conditions. And, why is that countries who are pro-US do not cooperate with Armenia. Georgia for example could facility Armenian trade across its territory to Europe.

    Why should Armenia look to the West when for the past 20 years the US and Europe have done nothing substantive to lift Turkey’s economic hostile border blockade. Therefore, there is no indication that the West will ever seriously pressure Turkey to lift its blockade.

    The audience challenged the Ambassador on his statements that Armenia should look for NATO cooperation; when an Azeri-Turk can kill an Armenian under NATO auspices and yet all the US SD can do issue a statement of “concern”; that it was a toothless statement with no backing. The lack of punishment only encourages killing of Armenians by Turks and Azeris.

    The audience questioned the US Ambassador on the constant balanced statement for *both* sides to exercise constraint every time Azeri shoot and kill civilians across the border in the Tavush Marz of Norteast Armenia. The US SD falls short of condemning Azerbaijan.

    The audience questioned the ambassador how could the US SD think of Artzakh Armenians to live with Azeris when the Azeri government hands out axes to kill Armenians. Why recognition for Kosovo and not Artzakh?

    The audience told the US Ambassador that the US does not invest anything in Armenia and it meager 40 million dollar “assistance” does not qualify it to tell Armenia to shut its borders with Iran or lookk to the West or deepen cooperation with NATO. Last weeks lottery in MA was $500 million ( US assistance was only $40 million for the whole country)

    Others told the ambassador that they kowtow to Turkey every time the Turks threaten and as the most powerful country, the USSD is always afraid of Turkey; affraid of using the Genocide word; afraid of upsetting Turkey, afraid of any Turkish reaction – it was a disgrace and unbecoming of the most powerful nation on earth to kowtow and submit to Turkey.