Kocharian to Attend Gala Banquet Honoring UAF’s 100th Airlift

LOS ANGELES–Robert Kocharian–the President of the Republic of Armenia–will make his first visit to California on September 26 to attend the Gala Banquet celebrating the United Armenian Fund’s 100th Humanitarian Airlift to Armenia.

President Kocharian appreciates the significant role the UAF airlifts have played in easing the effects of the blockade of Armenia.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s have benefited from all the medicines and other vital supplies airlifted by the UAF during the past nine years. In the earlier period–the airlifts were the only lifeline to land-locked Armenia.

President Kocharian was born in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1954. He is a graduate of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute. He was an active participant and a leader in the Karabakh liberation movement. Under his supervision–the "Miatsum" (Unification) political organization was established in 1989. He was elected President of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1996 and was appointed Prime Minister of Armenia the following year. In March 1998–he was elected President of Armenia.

"This will be an exceptional event–full of excitement and surprises," said Savey Tufenkian–the Chairwoman of the Banquet Organizing Committee. "We are truly honored to have the President of the Republic of Armenia join us at this wonderful celebration."

The 33 members of the Banquet Organizing Committee represent a broad cross-section of the Armenian-American community. They have been meeting regularly in preparation for the Gala Banquet–which will be held at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles on September 2.

A series of special events are organized in Washington–Yerevan–and Los Angeles to celebrate the 100th airlift.

"Sending 100 consecutive plane-loads of relief supplies to a single country is probably the largest humanitarian airlift operation in the world since the historic Berlin Airlift of 1948," said UAF’s Executive Director Harut Sassounian.

On July 29–the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues–co-chaired by Cong. Frank Pallone and John Porter–was scheduled to host a reception in the US Capitol building to recognize the UAF’s unique accomplishment. Scores of Congressmen and Senators–State Department officials–representatives of non-governmental organizations–and Armenian-American community leaders were anticipated.

The following day–on July 30–the UAF’s 100th airlift took-off from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The US Air Force provided for this flight a C5-B Galaxy (largest US military cargo plane) which carried to Armenia $8 million of relief supplies–mostly medicines and medical supplies collected by the UAF from MAP International–AmeriCares–World Vision–Brother’s Brother Foundation–and 30 other donors.

Accompanying the flight were 40 representatives of Armenian-American groups–American charitable organizations–reporters from major American newspapers–State Department officials–and Kim Tomsen–the wife of the US Ambassador to Armenia.

Upon arrival in Yerevan on July 31–the airlift was welcomed at the airport by high-ranking Armenian government officials.

During the following days–the UAF group was scheduled to visit the earthquake zone–the Children’s Cardiac Center of Armenia–the Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument–the Parliament–historic sites–and attend mass at Holy Etchmiadzin. Special receptions and briefings are planned for the group by the Armenian government as well as the American Embassy in Yerevan.

The United Armenian Fund was formed in November 1989 as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization whose purpose is to bring short-term humanitarian and longer-term rehabilitation aid to Armenia. In the past nine years–the UAF has sent more than $235 million of humanitarian supplies to Armenia by air–land and sea.

The UAF is the collective effort of the Armenian Assembly of America–Armenian General Benevolent Union–Armenian Missionary Association of America–Armenian Relief Society–Diocese of the Armenian Church of America–Lincy Foundation–and Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

For more information–contact the UAF office by telephone (818) 241-8900 or by fax (818) 241-6900. For further information regarding the gala banquet–please call Mrs. Agbabian at (310) 476-5306.

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