LOS ANGELES–In preparation for the upcoming Armenia-Diaspora conference–scheduled for Sept. 22 and 23 in Armenia–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian paid a visit to Los Angeles over the weekend–and led a consultative meeting with community leaders Saturday afternoon.
The meeting–during which more than 250 religious–political and organizational leaders exchanged their views on the upcoming conference–took place at Board of Supervisors Chambers at the Los Angeles County Administration Building.
Also present at the meeting was LA Country Board of Supervisors member Mike Antonovich.
The meeting was convened by Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles–Armen Melkonian–who in welcoming the participants–explained the importance of the September conference as a starting ground for improved and structured relations between Armenia and the Diaspora.
In his remarks–foreign minister Oskanian explained that since Armenia’s independence in 1991–objective and subjective matters had prevented a health dialogue and relations between Armenia and the Diaspora.
Oskanian said that the undiscriminating policies of the current administration have ensured a positive climate to begin the formulation of a more structured approach to Homeland-Diaspora cooperation and relations.
The foreign minister–who was appointed by President Kocharian to co-chair a governmental committee on the Armenia-Diaspora Conference–stated that the aims of the Sept. gathering was two-fold: division of tasks among Armenia and Diaspora entities through the creation of a administrative body and structure; as well as the pinpointing of pan-national issues of interest.
Oskanian announced that similar meetings were scheduled in coming weeks in Tehran–Moscow–Australia and South America. Such meetings have already been held in Budapest–Paris–Washington and Beirut.
In his remarks–Antonovich welcomed the Armenian foreign minister and fondly recalled his trip to Armenia’several years ago. He commended the Armenia-Diaspora conference and wished the organizers and participants luck in pursuing the endeavor.
In return–Oskanian invited Antonovich to Yerevan in September to take part in the Conference.
Also speaking at the meeting was Prof. Djivan Tabibian–Armenia’s Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–who presented an overview of the Conference in English.
Tabibian outlined the difficulties and obstacles which have impeded the organization of such a gathering and stressed the purpose and discussion points of the conference.
The participating community leaders and members were provided time to exchange views and concerns regarding the conference–and offer suggestions on the format of the two-day conference.
In conclusion–Oskanian commended the gathering–calling it a success. He also outlined the four points–outlined below–for general discussion at the conference.
*Format and agenda of the Armenia-Diaspora Conference
*Ways of selection of conference participants
*Armenia-Diaspora Action Plan
*Creation of New Structures in the Diaspora.