GLENDALE–Members of the Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region (ANCA-WR) and the Foundation for Economic Development (FED) met with US Ambassador John Marshall Evans and his delegation of US officials–including Robin Phillips–Director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Armenia–Eugenia Sidereas–Desk Officer for Armenia at the US Department of State–and Aaron Shirinian–who serves as the Political Officer–assistance coordinator at the US Embassy in Armenia.
Berdj Karapetian–a member of the FED Board of Directors–introduced Ambassador Evans to the FED’s mission and its ongoing efforts to launch the California Regional Trade Office in Armenia. Karapetian explained that the trade office contract that was awarded to the FED by the State of California would serve California’s small to medium enterprises that were interested in investing or selling products in Armenia. Like his predecessor Ambassador John Ordway–Ambassador Evans expressed support for the initiative. While the Trade Office is an official State of California representative–due to budgetary issues–the funds necessary to begin operations are being raised privately.
ANCA-WR Board of Directors member Zanku Armenian led the discussion on the ANCA-WR’s concerns over the recent statement made by Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones–which mischaracterized the Karabagh Republic’s leaders as "criminal secessionists." The issue was of high concern to the Ambassador–who explained that while he understood how many misconstrue Jones’s commen’s–the Assistant Secretary had not intended the term "criminal secessionists" to reflect on the leaders of Karabagh. The Ambassador hoped that the incident was resolved as he and the Assistant Secretary had reached out to the Armenian public.
Several of the meeting participants–including members of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors Leonard Manoukian and Armen Martin–pointed out the recklessness of Azerbaijan’s recent efforts to jeopardize the peace negotiations by seeking any forum that may result in a more favorable outcome for Azerbaijan. The group also discussed the aggressive rhetoric that continues to come from Baku. "The Minsk group is an honest broker in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict," commented Ambassador Evans–adding that "the US is a friend to Armenia."
Armenian commended President Bush for establishing military aid parity in his Budget proposal for 2006. Such parity helps maintain a balance in the fragile ceasefire that has existed between Karabagh and Azerbaijan for over ten years. Continuing on the topic of aid–Armenian stated that the ANCA would persist in securing high levels of aid to Armenia given Turkey’s blockade of the fledgling democracy.
An overarching issue that the group brought up with the Ambassador was the matter of the Armenian genocide. Representatives of the ANCA-WR asked that the US State Department include the history of the Armenian genocide on its website under Armenia’s country profile given the overwhelming number of documen’s held in the US Archives.
"It is important for groups like the ANCA-WR to regularly meet with US government officials who administer US policy firsthand in Armenia. Ambassador Evans is certainly a competent diplomat and well read on the Genocide and Armenia’s modern history. We are hopeful that he will continue to play an effective role in helping Armenia face the challenges that lay ahead in guaranteeing Armenia’s right to self determination and security and insuring continued development to her democratic institutions. A strong and prosperous Armenia is good for Armenia and America," commented Steven Dadaian–Chairman of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors–who met the Ambassador’s delegation at an event later in the day hosted by His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
The breakfast meeting with the ANCA-WR and FED kicked off a day of scheduled visits for the Ambassador’s delegation. The delegation went on to meet with Professor Richard Hovannisian of UCLA–followed by a talk with UCLA students. He also met with Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy Armenian Apostolic Church and leaders of community organization. A reception was held by the Western Diocese Armenian Apostolic Church later that evening.