More than $250 000 Raised at Banquet to Honor ARF Bureau

– Koko Topalian and Mr. & Mrs. Vahe Vartanian donate $50,000

– Mr. & Mrs. Varant Melkonian donate $25,000 and assume expenses of Bureau’s stay

LOS ANGELES–More than $250,000 was raised at a banquet welcoming the ARF Bureau–the members of which were present in the community to convene a plenary session of the ARF’s highest executive body. The October 25 banquet was attended by members of the ARF family of organizations–friends–and supporters–who through their donations gave tangible expression to their support of the organization’s work.

Along with Bureau Chairperson Hrant Markarian–Bureau member and Chairperson of the Armenian Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee Vahan Hovhannisian–and Bureau members Yervant Pamboukian–Mario Nalbandian–and Viken A. Hovsepian–in attendance were Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian–Prelate Bishop Mardirosian–father Raphael Minassian–Armenian Consul-General Valery Mkrtumian–Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian–ARF Western US Central Committee members–representatives of ARF-affiliated organizations–and ARF members and sympathizers.

The master of ceremonies was Khajag Dikidjian. During the evening’s program–Mayor Manoukian–Consul-General Mkrtumian–and ARF CC representative Hovig Saliba addressed attendees–and Bureau member Hovsepian introduced the Bureau chairperson–inviting him to present his address. The night’s program began after the invocation by Bishop Mardirosian.

Mayor Manoukian stressed the importance of Glendale as a center of culture and the home of 60,000 Armenia’s out of a population of 200,000.

Consul-General Mkrtumian praised the work of the ARF and ANCA on behalf of Armenia in various realms of activity. He also referred to the ARF’s significant historical and current role in Armenian life–including its contributions to the national-liberation struggle of Artsakh.

Saliba underscored the role the ARF has played on these shores from the 19th century until today–when the current needs of Armenia’s are as varied and great as ever. He stressed that the work of safeguarding national identity and values must expand–as does the necessity of gaining the participation of the community in that work. He noted that–as a result–the ARF Central Committee of the Western US bears a heavy burden on its shoulders. He added that with the full commitment of organizational resources and the strengthening of the membership’s potential–including by attracting youth–the ARF would much more actively participate in efforts to fulfill the needs of Armenia’s and Armenia.

The ARF CC representative specifically thanked Mr. & Mrs. Varant and Houri Melkonian–who not only assumed the expenses for the banquet and the ARF Bureau’s stay but also contributed an additional $25,000 to the current fundraising effort. It was also announced that Koko Topalian and Mr. & Mrs. Vahe Vartanian have together contributed $50,000.

The Bureau’s Hovsepian–after informing the audience of various data and information regarding the ARF worldwide family–introduced Hrant Markarian.

The Bureau chairperson–noting that the ARF today operates in 30 countries–affirmed that "the concerns of Armenia’s in those 30 countries are also the concerns of the ARF. Their issues are our issues." He noted that in the sense of an organizational network–the ARF is immense–and that the collective strength of Armenia’s in those countries constitute the strength of the ARF–which is strong only because of the strength of the people–and that strength is a moral strength–he said. "That popular force makes us daring–because it is the source of virtue."

"Because the ARF receives its strength from the people," Markarian said–"it is accountable to the people. Because of that relationship–the ARF remains a principled force–and considers the interests of our nation and country above all else."

Markarian discussed the ARF’s activities during the first phase of Independence–when the ARF was seen as a political force operating within a state–as well as a force fighting against tyranny–as having members who fight and die in Artsakh–and also as romantics who attempt to swim against the current to keep Armenia’s Armenian.

Thereafter–however–Markarian said–the ARF was recognized as a factor in the country and in political life. And soon–ARF member Armen Rustamian was representing the Armenian Republic in the European Parliament; and in NATO’s Interparliamentary Summit–ARF member Vahan Hovhannisian was representing the Armenian Republic.

Markarian stressed–though–that the ARF’s work in the governmental system did not lead the ARF astray–that it remained true to itself–in the sense of pursuing nation- and people-based policies. As a result–he said–possibly for the first time since 1918-1920–on the international stage Armenia took responsibility for the Armenian Case–for the Armenian Genocide–and for other national concerns.

The Bureau chairperson underscored that in the past year and a half–it had also become possible to make the condition of the Armenia’s of Javakhk the object of attention internationally and intra-nationally. That effort has registered some success politically–he said–but there is immense work yet to be done.

Markarian then defined the three main facets of the ARF’s policy of assuring stability in Armenia.

First–he said–stability can only be guaranteed if political forces and parties are able to show responsibility toward the country’s present and future–that is–if they are able to place the security of the country above purely sectarian interests.

The second prerequisite–he said–is that the authorities must ensure that the most elementary conditions for justice are safeguarded–because without justice there cannot be stability. And third–he said–is dialog among political forces.

Markarian ended his talk by saying that the aim of the ARF on the national stage is to ensure united efforts–pointing out that as a people we lack organization–inside and outside of Armenia–but that we have the potential for it–and that is the guarantor of our success.

After the cultural segment of the evening’s festivities–the banquet concluded with a prayer by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian.

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