Oskanian Urges Diaspora to Continue Partnership with Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Speaking at a Washington DC conference on Armenian issues–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian discussed Monday Armenia’s relations with the US–democracy in Armenia–Armenia-diaspora relations–and the aid Armenia will receive from the US under the Millennium Challenge Account program.

US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Freid–USAID Armenia Mission Director Robin Phillips–Congressmembers and various other officials attended the conference organized by the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA)–Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)–and Western and Eastern Dioceses of the Armenian Church in America.

In his speech–Oskanian discussed cooperation between the US and Armenia in the war on terror–non-proliferation–regional security–and in supporting democratic and economic freedoms.

"Not only are we ideological partners–but we share the values that have made America. We want those values to be not just aspirations for the citizens of Armenia but solid realities."

Referring to the development of democracy in Armenia–Oskanian said: "The entire process of nation-building has been different for us [than the US]–since we had to undo an existing system and build a new one. That is why we have welcomed the various US programs which have supported our institutional–democratic and economic reforms."

Speaking of the aid Armenia will receive through the Millennium Challenges program–Oskanian said that–"the US government determined to contribute to the budgets of those countries that are themselves attempting to grow in the right direction–to govern justly–to encourage economic openness and to invest in people."

"Armenia is a part of the MCC because not only is there plenty about our society that needs to be put right–but because we are on a path that is right," he said.

Oskanian also spoke of the important role the diaspora plays in Armenia.

"If I think back–I don’t know where Armenia would have been without the diaspora," said Oskanian. "The Armenia-diaspora collaboration has been invaluable in this decade and a half of upheaval–confusion and learning. The value of the diaspora is in its ingenuity–non-conformity–its belief in a dream–its access to networks–its ability to be international and national all at the same time–and its tremendous resources."

"I am now going to ask you [the diaspora] to partner with Armenia–even more deeply and broadly and seriously than you have already done–in addressing Armenia’s domestic and international challenges," said Oskanian.

He ended his speech by saying: "The Republic of Armenia exists–it is independent–and it is ours. It still needs its diaspora–more than ever. We must cooperate–not compete–in order to turn the Armenia of our dreams into the Armenia of our future."

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