During a banquet at the Steigenberger Wiltcher Hotel in Brussels on November 9, organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau, $2.4 million was raised for the advancement of the Armenian Cause and the offices that work on that pursuit.
Attending the event were Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, His Holinees Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenia’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union Tatul Markaryan, Armenia’s representative to NATO Gagik Hovannesyan, the permanent representative of the Artsakh Republic in Brussels Irinia Beglaryan and the Primate of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland, Bishop Hovagim Manoukyan. They joined ARF Bureau chairman Hagop Der-Khachadourian at the head table, which also included benefactors Mr. & Mrs. Varoujan and Silva Lapoyan and Gabriel Chemberdji.
The evening’s Master of Ceremonies Hrair Soghomonian welcomed the more than 100 benefactors, as well as ARF Bureau members, representatives of ARF regions, activists and guests who had come from all over the world to support the ARF Bureau’s fundraiser for the Armenian Cause.
In his remarks, Der Khachadourian thanked the benefactors and said that the event was not only an opportunity for gratitude toward the generosity of supporters but an opportunity to present an account of the organization’s vast activities, beginning with its central offices in Yerevan and including the activities in Europe, Middle East, the United States—with its Eastern and Western regions—and elsewhere around the world.
“Beginning in 1991, when we proudly welcomed the independence of Armenia, and as a result of the Artsakh movement, the establishment of the independent Republic of Artsakh, the agenda for the pursuit of the Armenian Cause was enriched,” said Der Khachadourian.
The aforementioned, he explained, came to augment an already robust agenda of efforts to garner international recognition for the Armenian Genocide. The Bureau chairman said assisting the Republic of Armenia and elevating its stature in the international community, coupled with attaining recognition for the Republic of Artsakh and its people’s right to self-determination became unwavering priorities in the advancement of justice and the Armenian Cause.
On the Armenian Genocide recognition front, which Der Khachadourian said has advanced exponentially, the organization has also created avenues to advance and pursue legal remedies for reparations, which has led to the creation of the Armenian Legal Institute that conducts research individual and collective restitution issues stemming from the Armenian Genocide.
The protection of Armenians rights on historically Armenian lands and ensuring the preservation of their national identity was identified by Der Khachadourian as another avenue of advancing the Armenian Cause.
The Bureau chairman also highlighted the importance of engaging and educating the young generation in the cause but politicizing them to become empowered ambassadors for the just aspirations of the Armenian Nation. This effort also includes providing opportunities for Armenian youth to serve in political, diplomatic and trade offices around the world, adding that hundreds of young people have become engaged in this process from Washington to Brussels to other world capitals saying, “we have taken the fort from inside.”
Der Khachadourian explained that it is the responsibility of the ARF to serve its people, explaining that “we know full-well what devotion, volunteerism and sacrifice—and if need be at the price of one’s life—mean.” In the 21st Century, he explained, volunteering is not sufficient and it is imperative to have cadres and professional offices to advance the Armenian Cause, adding that during the past 15 years the organization has been able to create such structures around the world that are on the forefront 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Our conscripts for the Armenian Cause—a part of the professionals but a vast majority of them volunteers—are truly a second army alongside the Armed Forces of Armenia and Artsakh,” said Der Khachadourian. “They are our political army, which together with the diplomatic representatives of Armenia and Artsakh” are on the frontlines fighting for our national ideals.
He said that for the organization’s professional success the perseverance of the cause the ARF always calls on the people who heed that appeal and stand in support of the ARF.
Soghomonian, the MC, announced the names of the donors intermittently throughout the program.
In his remarks, Sahakian, the Artsakh President, discussed some of the key domestic and foreign priority principles for Artsakh’s statehood.
Bako Sahakyan touched upon a range of fundamental concepts of Artsakh’s state-building, domestic and foreign policy.
“Dynamic and serious geopolitical movements and changes are taking place in the world, with a significant stream of these changes taking place in our and neighboring regions. It requires greater vigilance, increased level of cooperation, elevation of cooperation with various countries, clarification and recalibration of tactics and strategies to affect change,” said Sahakian in his remarks.
The Artsakh President singled out the role the ARF and all of its structures play in advancing national issues on the world arena, and especially the advancing of Artsakh’s interests in various countries and promoting alliances and deepening of relations with international players.
Sahakian stressed that all our victories and achievements are based on the unity of the people, its unshakable faith, collective will, optimism and painstaking work pointing out the need to the utmost in this respect, cementing the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora trinity on a consistent basis, developing and deepening cooperation and ties between Artsakh and its friends and allies.
Bishop Manoukyan read remarks on behalf of His Holiness Karkin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and following a video presentation outlining the international scope of the pursuit of the Armenian Cause, Ambassador Markaryan read a message by Armen Sarkissian for this occasion.
In his pontifical remarks, Catholicos Aram I emphasized the importance of pursuing the Armenian Cause and the imperative to continue this effort to advance the aspirations of the Armenian people.
“The Armenian Cause is not solely the cause for the Diaspora or Armenia or Artsakh. It is the Cause for the entire Armenian Nation,” said Aram I.
“For us the strengthening of Armenia is a fight. The preservation of Artsakh’s independence is a fight. We are a people that has demands and for us the strengthening Armenia’s independence is an utmost priority,” added Aram I, saying the pursuit of the Armenian Cause is an everyday fight.
The ARF Bureau’s Political representative Giro Manoyan presented an accounting of activities since the last such event, which was held in Paris in 2016.
Ahead of the event’s conclusion, Der Khachadourian took the stage to announce that at that point the fundraising had yielded $1,365,458. In addition, he announced the major donors of the evening, which included Simon and Maral Hasserdjian ($100,000); Hagop Chemberdji ($150,000); Gagik Tsarukyan ($250,000); Varoujan and Silva Lapoyan ($500,000). At the end of the evening it was announced that the fundraising, which continued throughout the evening, had reached $2.4 million.