Ghoukassian Stresses Imperative of National Unity

PASADENA–President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arkady Ghoukassian stressed the imperative of national unity and said that without it Karabakh could not have emerged victorious–during his keynote address at a celebration marking the 11th anniversary of the Karabakh liberation struggle Sunday at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

The event which was organized by the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Armenian Democratic League (Ramkavar Party) was held under the auspices of the Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles.

Ghoukassian–accompanied by Nagorno-Karabakh Republic foreign minister Naira Melkoumian and the deputy presidential chief of staff Souren Grigorian–arrived Saturday in Los Angeles–and was greeted by Armenia’s Ambassador to the US Rouben Shugarian–Karabakh’s Representative to the US Tevan Poghossian–Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian–Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Primate Arch. Vatche Hovsepian and representatives of political parties and community organizations.

On Sunday morning a special Mass was said at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale. Ghoukassian and his entourage were introduced by Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–while the sermon of the day was presented by Western Primate Arch. Vatche Hovsepian.

In his remarks at the Sunday event–Ghoukassian outlined the various stages of the 11-year-old Karabakh struggle–emphasizing the important role the Diaspora plays–and played–in maintaining the Karabakh movement.

"Each of our meetings–whether in Artsakh or in the US–should serve as an opportunity to coordinate our resources–in the name of resolving pan-national issues–within which lies the just resolution of the Karabakh conflict and the prosperity of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic," remarked President Ghoukassian.

He addressed the important role the Los Angeles Armenian community had played throughout the years–stressing that the concept of the telethon to raise funds for the construction of the Goris-Shoushi-Stepanakert highway was conceived in LA. He thanked the community for its efforts in ensuring the completion of that important project–which has brought a life-line to Karabakh.

Furthermore–Ghoukassian discussed the current–political–stage of the Karabakh struggle and explained that while for political purposes several adjustmen’s had been made in the approach toward a final resolution to the conflict–but the basis on which the struggle began in 1988 was still alive in the hearts and souls of Karabakh residents.

"Without lasting stability in the region–all our efforts would lose their meaning," commented the president explaining that the Karabakh authorities place special emphasis on the Karabakh army and its enhancement as a guarantor of stability in the region.

Ghoukassian added that the approach of the international community had changed toward the Karabakh conflict and world leaders are able to better comprehend the Karabakh point of view. He cited the recent OSCE peace proposal and last December’s discussion on conflict resolution hosted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as examples of the revised approach toward the Karabakh question by the international community.

In discussing Azerbaijan’s non-constructive position on the Karabakh conflict–Ghoukassian said that if Azerbaijan continued its closed-minded approach and insisted on a return to the previously unacceptable points–then the Karabakh authorities would have to reconsider their stance on the peace proposals.

In conclusion–Ghoukassian discussed the preservation of democratic norms and human rights–and stressed the importance of international recognition for the Armenian Genocide.

Master of Ceremonies–Attorney Vahe Yacoubian began Sunday’s program by stressing that the presence of the officials from Karabakh–led by President Ghoukassian–brought an added importance to the gathering. He also outlined that the Karabakh issue was an important one for the Armenian-American community.

Also speaking at the gathering were Foreign Minister Melkoumian–Ambassador Shugarian and Consul General Melkonian.

The program began with a flag ceremony with the participation of scouts from the Homenetmen–Homenmen and the Armenian Youth Society–under the leadership of Homenetmen General Scout master Harout Madenian. The national anthems of the US–Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were performed by Hovig Krikorian–with piano accompaniment by Armen Aharonian. Krikorian also performed the closing song.

The Armenian Society of LA chorus–the Hamazkayine Ani Dance Troupe and the Armenian Instrumental Band had performances during the program. A video–produced by Horizon Television and documenting the 11-year Karabakh movement was shown.

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