Armenia Congratulates New California Governor

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has congratulated actor Arnold Schwarzenegger on his election last week as the new governor of the US state of California that has the highest concentration of Armenian-Americans.

"Armenia has forged strong ties with California since its independence and I am confident that they will continue to grow and develop," Oskanian said in a letter publicized by his press service on Wednesday.

Oskanian praised Schwarzenegger for his September 21 statement commemorating the 12th anniversary of Armenia’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. "I am convinced that that message was also well received by California’s large Armenian community," he said.

The statement–issued two weeks before California’s dramatic recall vote–appeared part of Schwarzenegger’s efforts to win over hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenian voters living in the state.

In a message congratulating the governor-elect–the Armenian National Committee of America conveyed–"We look forward to securing the Governor-elect’s full support in establishing a privately funded California Trade Office in Armenia–enhancing our State’s educational curriculum on the Armenian Genocide and other issues that are dear to our community."

Schwarzenegger’s ousted predecessor–Gray Davis–underlined the political clout of the local Armenian community last year when he decided to open a Californian trade office in Yerevan. Plans for the opening of the mission were not affected by the Davis administration’s subsequent decision to close down most of the state’s representations abroad for cost-cutting purposes.

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