ENCINO—“We are at the service of the Diaspora,” said Armenia’s new Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan on Sunday during a luncheon at Ferrahian School’s Dickranian Hall where at the invitation of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee representatives of its sister and affiliate organization, welcomed the minister on his first official visit to Los Angeles.
Hayrapetyan was greeted with thunderous applause by the luncheon attendees that included representatives of the Armenian Relief Society, the Homenetmen, the Armenian Youth Federation, ARF Shant Student Association, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, the Hamazkayin, the Board of Regents of the Prelacy Armenian Schools, members of the L.A-based ARF Gomidehs, as well as representatives of the Prelacy, its Executive Council and the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia Central Executive Council.
Western Prelacy Vicar General Bishop Tokom Donyan led the luncheon in a prayer, following which ARF Western US Central Committee’s political chairman Avedik Izmirlian welcomed the minister.
In his brief remarks, Izmirlian stated that the ARF had called for the creation of a Diaspora Ministry since the early days of Armenia’s independence and pledged his organization’s support for the advancement of the mission and activities of the ministry under its new minister and staff.
He welcomed the changes sweeping Armenia after this spring’s Velvet Revolution and said that the government’s pledges to institute social justice and advance the people’s socio-economic status is not only a vital part of reforms needed in Armenia but are also key tenets of the ARF.
Izmirlian also stressed the need to steer Homeland-Diaspora relations in a direction that will benefit the entire Armenian Nation and in pledging the ARF’s and its affiliate organizations’ resources at the disposal of the ministry, underscored the ARF’s mission of strengthening Armenia’s statehood.
In his turn, Hayrapetyan stressed that the Diaspora Ministry’s main objective is to work with all organizations and individuals with the Diaspora, adding that the ministry wanted to become a resource for communities and individuals and to foster efforts in strengthening the institutions in the Diaspora.
Saying that the ministry will no longer be an institution that awards medals and accolades, in reference to his predecessor’s practice of such awards, Hayrapetyan highlighted the important work that needed to be done in various spheres in Diaspora communities, among them assessing how best to assist educational institutions in different Diaspora communities.
“We welcome your input and participation in all facets of work with the ministry. Our doors are open to all of you,” said Hayrapetyan.
He, however, did say that important data was lacking in contributing to the effective approaches needed for the ministry and expressed hope that in due time such critical information will be culled to enable both the ministry and the communities to effectively chart a collaborative course for activities.
Hayrapetyan said that he spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the entire Armenian government in expressing his gratitude to those gathered at the luncheon and the in general the Armenian-American community for its continues support of Armenia and the crucial role that it plays in advancement of the nation.
He said he was looking forward to meeting organizational representatives and individuals who are engaged in this process.
“We are willing to work with any organization and individual who are ready to roll up their sleeves and work to advance Armenia,” said Hayrapetyan.
Organizational representatives briefly discussed the mission of their organization’s and briefed the minister about the ongoing projects each group has undertaken in Armenia, all of them expressing hope to advance those efforts, with the support of the Diaspora Ministry and the people of Armenia.