GLENDALE–More than 1000 attended and some 250,000 people watched on live television as Nagorno-Karabakh Republic foreign minister Naira Melkoumian announced that the new leadership of Armenia was fostering policy based on national interests and calling for a coherent national policy for the resolution of the conflict–during a special program Sunday at Hoover High School–marking the 10th anniversary of the Karabakh liberation movement.
The program was sponsored by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee and organized jointly by the Glendale "Aharonian," Crescenta Valley "Zavarian" and Burbank "Aghbalian" ARF chapters.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Karabakh struggle–video messages from Armenia’s Acting President Robert Kocharian and ARF leaders Hrand Markarian and Vahan Hovanessian were aired intermittently throughout the program.
The program–which was covered live on KZKI channel 30 throughout Southern California–was also attended by Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian–Consul to Los Angeles Edward Taranian–Nagorno-Karabakh Republic representative in Washington Tevan Boghossian and Shaghig Maroukhian the first secretary of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic representation in Armenia–who is accompanying Melkoumian on her trip to the US. Also present at the program were Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian and representatives from various organizations. Sponsors of the program–through whose contributions the live broadcast was made possible–were also present.
In her remarks–Melkoumian outlined the importance of the February 1988 events–whereby the modern liberation struggle began–ending years of persecution–from Genocide to 70 years of Soviet rule.
"It seems that the 20th century was supposed to have been an era of losses for the Armenian people–however–due mainly to the people of Karabakh–the Armenian people were–once again–able to prove that we are a strong nation," commented Melkoumian.
She also stated that much to the international community’s surprise and despite an imbalance in forces–the people of Karabakh "one-by-one emerged victorious by their own means."
Melkoumian was quick to point out that the past ten years were not only filled with successes–but also mistakes–"without which we would have been able to achieve victory–the recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic."
The foreign minister stressed that "we were able to collectively maintain our individuality," were found that to be the key to victory.
"Each Armenian must take on a personal responsibility for the future–and each Armenian must be able to prioritize national interests over personal ones," said Melkoumian who also quoted President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech "Ask not what your country can do for you–but what you can do for your country."
In discussing Karabakh today and the extreme international pressures under which the peace process is progressing–Melkoumian stressed the importance of initiating policy based on national ideals and not allow international powers to rule or guide Armenian interests.
She stated that the recent developmen’s in Armenia had proven that the Republic of Armenia played a large role in the Karabakh question–mainly–since Armenia was the sole security guarantor for Karabakh.
Thus–she said–Armenia had a large role to play in the quick and just resolution of the conflict since "Armenia is not only accountable to the people of Armenia–but rather the entire Armenian nation–especially the people of Karabakh–whose guarantor of security is Armenia."
"In this regard–the new leadership of Armenia–is fostering policy not based on economic or political interests–but rather a policy based on national interests which aims to protect the entire Armenian nation," stressed Melkoumian.
The new leadership of Armenia does not see the resolution of the conflict through war–explained Melkoumian who stated that because of this reality–the policies of Armenia and Karabakh were growing closer.
Melkoumian once again called for direct talks between Karabakh and Azerbaijan–as direct factor ensuring a peaceful resolution to the conflict and future friendly relations with neighboring countries–which in the foreign minister’s opinion was a matter that was not opposed by the leadership of Karabakh.
Also speaking at the program was Armenia’s new consul general to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian–who welcomed Melkoumian and saluted the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee for sponsoring the celebration–calling it a unique expression of the party’s commitment to the Karabakh liberation struggle.
Melkonian said that the new situation created in Armenia–provided an opportunity for forming a new national path and carving a brighter future for the Armenian nation.
"The whole world is waiting to see whether we will be able to confront this new situation," Melkonian stated–and called for national unity as an impetus to leading the nation toward achieving its goals.
Melkonian said that the Los Angeles community played a major role in preserving national cooperation–adding that the community could become a model for others.
The program began with Master of Ceremonies Hovan Tashjian announcing Melkoumian’s arrival who was being accompanied by ARF Western US CC chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian and Prelate Mardirossian who were welcomed by a cheering audience.
A three minute video provided a solemn beginning to the program–following which the Homenetmen Glendale "Ararat" chapter scout troupe led the flag ceremony accompanied by the Homenetmen regional marching band. A solemn moment of silence was observed as the marching band horn played the military funeral march.
The US and Armenian national anthems were performed by the Chamliam Armenian School choir under the direction of Nora Bairamian. The choir also performed three songs during the program which was received enthusiastically by the audience. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic national anthem was performed by singer Garen Gharibian–who also performed a selection of songs during the program.
The Armenian Youth Federation also presented that organization’s contributions to the Karabakh movement in a moving speech by Glendale "Roupen" chapter executive member Christine Faradjian–who outlined the efforts of the AYF to actively involve itself in the cause for national unity and the Karabakh movement.
Faradjian also stated that her organization was always at the forefront of the Armenian liberation movement citing the Lisbon Five–Hampig Sassounian and a slew of Diaspora AYF members from throughout the world who took part in the Karabakh self-defense movement–some even giving their lives for the cause.
Entertainment was also provided by Alice Kaplandjian–who recited two shorts from poetess Victoria Sanasarian–and Anahid Ishkhanian who sang traditional Karabakh songs.
The evening’s program concluded with singing of patriotic songs by Karnig Sarkissian.
The live airing of this program by Horizon television was a unique addition and added more enthusiasm from the crowd. Camera crews encircled the auditorium as anchors Edward Jouharian and Arshalouis Darbinian welcomed the audience at home to this very special celebration.