In the best tradition of our ancient people, we are gathered here–the sons and daughters of the Armenian nation–to mark our progress on this special occasion and to chart our way forward through the ever-evolving landscape of the Armenian reality. We celebrate this milestone in our nation’s long journey with a profound appreciation of the will and wisdom–the service and sacrifice–that have brought us to this proud moment in our history. We recognize that our greatest challenges lie ahead; for the independence of the Republic represents both the realization of our shared hopes and the foundation upon which we will build a strong, democratic, free, independent and united homeland. We are inspired that, throughout our long history, each Armenian generation has, with the benefit of the experience of our forbearers, reinvented the Armenian Cause. For more than 3,000 years, our people and leaders have borne the unique burdens of their time. We are at our best when we apply the lessons of our past in adapting to the rapidly changing environment. These lessons include: Leadership: Artashes, Tigran, and our leaders throughout the liberation struggles for each of our republics Courage: Avarayr, Sardarabad, and Nagorno Karabakh Wisdom: Khrimian Hyrig’s "iron ladle" insight in shaping our own destiny Perseverance: The will to prevail through long years under Persians and Parthians, Romans and Russia’s, Arabs and Ottomans. We have much to learn from our history, for little that we will face in the future will be without precedent in our past. Our history has taught us that we will remain true to our fathers, not by tracing their footsteps, but by committing ourselves, as they did, to understanding the challenges of our time and facing them directly. We understand that we have fought bravely to maintain our identity and preserve our homeland. The war for Artstakh in our own lifetimes speaks to this powerful tradition, as do countless fallen solders in hundreds of battles over the past 3,000 years. At other times–for far too long in fact–Armenia’s have, during our long history, relied upon accommodations and affiliations that compromised Armenian national interests–bitter realities imposed by the strong on the weak. Today, 15 years after independence, as the Armenian nation develops strength in the homeland and we assert our rights abroad, we have much to gain from a hard look at our past, both the good and the bad. What is certain is that today–given the realities we face, Turkey and Azerbaijan’s aggression among them, simple accommodation cannot serve as a useful guide to Armenia’s interaction with neighboring states, regional powers, or the international community. Equally certain is that Armenia’s security cannot be ensured by affiliating with one side or another in the regional and global balance of power, but rather by navigating an authentically Armenian path forward, governed by the core interests of the Armenian nation. Both of these realities come with great challenges. And we must, Hairenik and Diaspora together, meet them head on. We must continue to pursue a confidant, assertive brand of Diasporan advocacy that builds upon, but is not bound by, our past. We must expand power and influence globally, building a far-reaching network of identity and strength that serve as both sword and shield. We must carve out spheres of influence in the power centers of the world, including in areas traditionally controlled by those who intend us harm. And we must constantly challenge, and when necessary confront, forces aligned against the Armenian nation, whoever they may be. The ANCA takes on these challenges daily. While many challenges remain, there has also been significant progress. The examples are many, among them: Our success, along with the help of many friends, in challenging PBS, a major television network, that sought to provide a very public national platform for Armenian Genocide deniers. Our successful efforts to confront the misguided actions of the U.S. Justice Department, which sought, without any reasonable cause, to place Armenian nationals on an intrusive terrorist watch list. Our success in persuading the New York Times and the Boston Globe to reverse their long-standing refusal to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide. And most recently, our successful efforts to confront a White House which fired an able and honest ambassador, John Evans, simply for speaking the truth, and is now seeking to replace him with a nominee unacceptable to a broad cross-section of the U.S. Congress as well, of course, to our own community. We must do all these, and more, for an engaged and effective Diaspora represents a vital and essential key to Armenia’s freedom and the prerequisite for the realization of our national ideals. We bring to this task an organization, built upon a powerful grassroots foundation, that has with devotion and sophistication carried the Armenian Cause forward in America for more than a century with 50 chapters throughout the United States and affiliates in over 40 countries throughout the world. We continue to work to end U.S. complicity in Turkey’s denials of the Genocide, isolating Ankara internationally and forcing its leaders to come to terms with their crimes. Our aim remains a reformed and repentant Turkey that accepts a just resolution of the Armenian Genocide. Justice, beyond its profound moral implications, remains an essential ingredient of Armenia’s security. Simply put, Armenia cannot be safe as long as it remains bordered by an over-armed and unrepentant perpetrator of genocide. We continue to defend Nagorno Karabakh’s right to self-determination within secure borders, while countering the efforts of Caspian oil interests and others to tilt U.S. policy in favor of Azerbaijan. We are working every day to strengthen Armenia through the promotion of: Increased trade and investment A strong, vibrant, and democratic economy free of debilitating corruption Generous foreign assistance to Armenia Continued direct aid to Nagorno Karabakh We are fighting against the illegal and immoral Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as against their efforts to isolate Armenia from the benefits of the Caspian energy sector. We have more than met their challenge by expanding our own resources, establishing a new permanent headquarters in Washington, DC and building an endowment fund to finance our growth. We have matched these monetary gains with a renewed focus on strengthening our grassroots. We have also invested heavily in our youth through our Capital Gateway Program. This innovative program secures career-track public policy positions in Washington, DC for talented Armenian American university graduates. And so, in closing, let me say that the key to our collective success is to remain confident in our strength, the abilities of our youth, the ultimate morality of our positions, and the devotion of the Armenian people to the cause of our nation. I invite each and every one of you to join with us in this fight for our ideals and our rights. I am confidant that, united together and with perseverance, we will ultimately prevail.