LOS ANGELES—Representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region discussed a broad range of community concerns during a meeting with US Representative Henry Waxman (CA-30-D) at his west Los Angeles district office earlier this week.
“We are confident that Congressman Waxman will continue to be a strong advocate for Armenian Genocide recognition and expanding US-Armenia relations,” stated ANCA-WR activist and constituent Ayk Dikijian. “It is important for us, as constituents, to take this opportunity during Congressional recess to express our gratitude to the Congressman and to inform him about the latest developments related to Armenian American issues,” he added.
Meeting attendees discussed the danger of Azerbaijan’s escalating threats of war and recent attacks on Nagorno Karabakh. Furthermore, constituents reminded Congressman Waxman about the destruction of Armenian churches and religious icons in central and eastern Turkey as part of a deliberate campaign to obliterate evidence of the 3000 year Armenian presence in the region. Azerbaijan’s 2005 destruction of over 2,700 carved cross-stones, known as khatchkars, in the ancient cemetery of Old Jugha, Nakhichevan was also discussed.
During the meeting, constituents also informed Congressman Waxman about efforts to create a U.S.-Armenia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to expand trade, promote investment, and foster job creation in both the United States and Armenia.
In June 2010, the ANCA wrote a letter calling upon U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, to negotiate a TIFA with Armenia. The U.S. has negotiated TIFAs with over 50 other countries and regional economic groups, including Georgia and Ukraine. These agreements provide strategic frameworks and principles for ongoing government-to-government dialogue on trade and investment issues.
The prospect of putting in place such an agreement has been on the agenda of past meetings of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force, but no specific action has yet been taken to translate these discussions into reality.
Congressman Waxman expressed his support for Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and pledged to support efforts to advance H. Res. 252 to a full House vote. Last April, during a statement commemorating the 95th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Congressman strongly condemned Turkey’s gag rule on U.S. recognition of this crime.
“Ninety-five years later, we must continue to take pride in our efforts and reaffirm our commitment to ending genocide and defending human rights for all,” stated Congressman Waxman.
“Sadly, there still remain those who aggressively deny or raise doubt about this chapter of history. The Republic of Turkey threatens severe diplomatic consequences to nations that officially recognize the genocide, and current Turkish law deems discussion of the genocide to be a criminal offense. Moreover, it is part of negotiations to end its seventeen-year blockade of the modern nation of Armenia. Turkey has insisted on the establishment of a new historical commission to study the events of 1915 to 1923, as if abundant scholarly evidence of genocide did not already exist,” he added.
Since coming to Congress in 1975, Congressman Waxman has earned the reputation as an expert on Middle East policy. From 2007 to 2008, he served as Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the principal investigative committee in the House. In January 2009, he became the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Congressman Waxman is one of the most senior and longest serving members in the House of Representatives,” stated constituent Razmig Sarkissian. “I am pleased to have an opportunity to meet with him and discuss issues of concern to Armenian Americans in his district.”
Congressman Waxman represents California’s 30th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Westlake Village and West Hollywood, as well as such areas of Los Angeles as Beverly-Fairfax, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Beverlywood, Topanga, Agoura, Chatsworth, West Hills, Canoga Park, and Westwood.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country. The ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
PHOTO CAPTION: Congressman Waxman with constituents Tereza Yerimyan, Lorie
Partamian, Razmig Sarkissian, Ayk Dikijian, and Haig Hovsepian, and ANCA-WR
Government Relations Director Lerna Shirinian