Councilmember Visits Armenian Heartland in an Attempt to Create Sister City Relationship with Yerevan
LOS ANGELES–As a part of an official delegation of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-WR)–Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti recently returned from a nearly week and a half long trip Armenia–where he met Armenian local and national political leadership. The delegation included Garcetti’s staff members Baydsar Thomasian and Lynette Amerian with husband Bruce Bogstad–and ANCA-WR Board members Leonard Manoukian and Vahagn Thomasian.
On their arrival–Councilmember Garcetti and the delegation were greeted with a warm welcome by the Armenian officials as well as American expatriates. Local television crews who waited until three in the morning to interview Councilmember Garcetti were also on hand.
The following day–the delegation met with several Parliamentary leaders including Levon Mkrtchian–Armen Rustamian and the Mayor of Yerevan–Yervand Zakharian. During these meetings–Garcetti and the Armenian officials discussed creating a Sister City relationship between Los Angeles and Yerevan–and issues that are of concern to both the diasporan and native Armenian communities.
"The meetings were all very encouraging about establishing a Sister City agreement with Yerevan and using the Sister City relationship to promote economic–cultural–and political interaction between the two municipalities," said Councilmember Eric Garcetti. "We looked at cooperation on the issues of law enforcement and we explored possible cooperation around seismic standards for buildings–considering we both live with fault lines in and around our cities."
Throughout the remainder of their trip–as Garcetti and the delegation traveled through the highlands of Armenia–they met with US Ambassador to Armenia–John Marshall Evans–and the Deputy Minister on Foreign Affairs–Arman Kirakossian. During these meetings–they discussed the possibilities for development and success of both cities–if a Sister City relationship were to be established. Ambassador Evans spoke of his thoughts on creating a program in which the police and fire departmen’s of the City of Los Angeles and Yerevan would work with one another in an exchange of knowledge and ideas in order to promote the capabilities of each.
"I am very hopeful of the outcome Councilmember Garcetti’s trip to Armenia will have for both the residents of Los Angeles and Yerevan. It will undoubtedly create a relationship in which both cities will benefit from one another," said delegation member and ANCA-WR Board member Vahagn Thomasian.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean joined Garcetti and his delegation on their visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial. Together–they planted trees in a grove where elected officials from around the world have done the same in remembrance of the 1.5 million Armenia’s who were killed by the Ottoman Turkish government.
"The truth is that the Armenian genocide took place 90 years ago," said DNC Chairman Howard Dean."Over a million people were killed. There is no question that the United States should recognize this."
Dean’s visit to Armenia was spurred by an invitation by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). During his short trip–which lasted a few days–he stressed his support of the Armenian American community’s efforts to gain recognition for the Armenian Genocide. He also went on to express his support for the congressional resolutions that urges President Bush to "accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenia’s as genocide" in his annual message to the US-Armenian community.
Garcetti was first elected in 2001–becoming one of the youngest Councilmembers elected in the city’s history. He represents the 13th district–which is known as the heart of Los Angeles–and stretches between Hollywood and Downtown and includes the area known as "Little Armenia."