Los Angeles-Yerevan Sister City Program to Kick Off at Rotunda Ceremony

LOS ANGELES–By a resolution of the Los Angeles City Council, the Los Angeles-Yerevan Sister City Association and program will be officially inaugurated on Friday, February 23. Following the adoption of the resolution, a ceremony will be held in the City Hall rotunda in honor of the occasion. The resolution marks the culmination of an ongoing effort by the Armenian American community of Los Angeles to establish the partnership between Armenia’s capital city and the American city with the largest population of Armenian Americans. The newly founded LAYSCA’s organizational structure is created within the official framework of Sister Cities International — a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between the US and International communities. It implemen’s educational, cultural, social and humanitarian exchange and business and public service activities as a means of serving as a bridge of understanding and friendship between the people of Los Angeles and Yerevan. "Los Angeles is home to one of the largest and oldest Armenian communities in the United States,"noted Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian, Chairwoman of the Los Angeles-Yerevan Sister City Association. "With other cities around Los Angeles establishing similar partnerships with other cities in Armenia, it was only natural to establish the sister city program with Yerevan." Yerevan is the largest city and capital of Armenia with a population of about 1 million (2004 estimate). The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the Urartian fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC. The territory of Yerevan has been settled since the 4th millennium BC, fortified a number of settlemen’s from the Bronze Age, and Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world. In 1918, Yerevan became the capital of the newly independent state and remained so following Armenia’s Sovietization. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yerevan became the capital of the independent Republic of Armenia on September 21, 1991. Yerevan is a leading industrial, cultural, and scientific centre in the Caucasus region. As a center of Armenian culture, Yerevan is the site of Yerevan State University, the Armenian Academy of Sciences, the Madenataran man’script archives, a historical museum, an opera house, a music conservatory and several technical institutes. Early community efforts to establish the sister city program between Los Angeles and Yerevan gained Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s. Councilman Eric Garcetti who represents the "Little Armenia"section of the city, also became a steadfast supporter of the initiative and championed the endeavor within the Los Angeles City Council. Since Yerevan already has a sister city relationship with Cambridge, MA, Councilman Garcetti approached the directors of the Cambridge — Yerevan Sister City Association to share the affiliation with Yerevan as is required under Sister Cities International rules. Cambridge — Yerevan Sister City Association directors agreed to share the affiliation with Los Angeles. In August 2005, Councilman Garcetti traveled to Armenia with a delegation of Los Angeles Armenian American community leaders to meet with Armenian elected officials to discuss ways to cooperate with one another in several areas. He also met with the Mayor of Yerevan and signed an agreement to form a sister city relationship. Upon his return from Armenia, Councilman Garcetti facilitated the formation of a volunteer working group consisting of Armenian American entrepreneurs, professionals and community leaders to establish the LAYSCA. "We commend Council President Garcetti for his leadership in creating this sister city association,"said Zerounian-Khanzadian. "We anticipate a busy year as we work to build a stronger relationship between these two great cities."

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