Rep. Joseph Crowley Returns from First Visit to Armenia

WOODSIDE–NY–After three days of participating in various meetings and visiting cultural and historic sites–Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) concluded his trip to the Republic of Armenia on Monday–reported the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New York. The Congressman was the first Member of Congress to visit Armenia this year.

Invited by the ANC New York–Congressman Crowley arrived in Armenia on August 8. The Congressman’s Chief of Staff Christopher S. McCannell and Legislative Aide Sarig Armenian arrived in Armenia on August 6. ANCA Eastern Region Chairperson Sharistan Ardhaldjian accompanied the Congressman and his staff in Armenia.

Representative Crowley met with several elected officials and diplomats including Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway–National Assembly Speaker Arthur Baghdasaryan–Chairperson of the National Assembly’s Foreign Relations Committee Armen Rustamian–Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Vahan Hovhannisian–and Chairperson of the ARF Parliamentary Group and head of the Armenian-US Parliamentary Group Levon Mkrtchyan. Representative Crowley also met with the head of the People’s Party Stepan Demirjian–head of the Republican Party in the National Assembly Galoust Sahakyan–Catholicos of All Armenia’s His Holiness Karekin II and the former Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of North America Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian.

During the meeting with Oskanian–the two discussed immediate and ongoing foreign affairs concerns–particularly the expected cut in US aid to Armenia and the Nagorno Karabagh peace process. During the meeting with members of the National Assembly–Representative Crowley focused on the role Armenia might play in the United States’ concern regarding Iran as well as the possible effects of the apparent reduction of US aid to Armenia.

In addition–during most of his meetings–the Congressman expressed concern over the destruction of Armenian monumen’s in Azerbaijan and Turkey. The Congressman’s half-day trip to the Armenian border overlooking the city of Ani gave him a first-hand look at the destruction of Armenian monumen’s in Turkey.

The Congressman visited Dzidzernagapert–the Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan. Director Laurenti Barseghyan gave the Congressman an in-depth tour of the museum and monument. Additionally–the Congressman planted a tree in memory of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. Congressman Crowley also visited the Holy See of Etchmiadzin–where he met with His Holiness Karekin II–attended a service–and toured Etchmiadzin’s museum.

In Gyumri–Dr. Mkhitar Mkhitarian gave the Congressman a tour of the Armenian Relief Society’s pre-natal clinic. The Congressman also observed the progress of the ongoing USAID and Lincy Foundation projects. The Congressman ended his visit to Armenia by visiting the recently renovated Mughni Monastery and meeting with Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian.

Prior to the Congressman’s arrival–his staff participated in several meetings and toured several sites. McCannell and Armenian met with the head of the Research on Armenian Architecture’s (RAA) Yerevan office Samvel Karapetian. The Congressman’s staff was particularly interested in RAA because of the organization’s research on ancient Armenian historical monumen’s in the South Caucasus region. McCannell and Armenian received information prepared by and photographs taken by RAA staff on Armenian monumen’s in Turkey–Georgia–and Azerbaijan.

The staff also met with the Director of the Armenian Youth Federation Eastern US Internship Program Dzovinar Bedrossian and the former director of the internship program Kim Hekimian Arzoumanian to discuss the ongoing summer program. Currently in its 13th year–the AYF Internship in Armenia offers an opportunity for students to develop their professional careers while helping Armenia.

Additionally–the staff met with Managing Attorney of Arlex International Ltd. Tom Samuelian and Aram Hajian–also of Arlex. Arlex International Ltd. is a law firm based in Yerevan–specializing in complex international transactions–dispute resolution–and public interest work. Both Samuelian and Hajian are originally from the United States–and provided McCannell and Armenian with their perspective of doing business and living in Armenia. The staff also toured several cultural and historic sites including Garni–Geghard–and Lake Sevan.

"It was a great pleasure to spend three days with Congressman Crowley and his staff and to witness the Congressman’s sincere interest in Armenia’s continuing development," said Chairperson of the ANC Eastern United States Sharistan Ardhaldjian. "Congressman Crowley has long supported many issues of particular concern to the Armenian American community–even before he joined the US Congress. However–the meetings he attended and the various cultural and historical sites he visited were designed to help the Congressman better understand Armenia–its people–and the interests of the Diaspora–particularly the Armenian American community. We are proud that the New York Armenian American community in and around Woodside–Sunnyside–and Elmhurst is represented by Congressman Crowley and we look forward to his continued leadership on many important issues."

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