First days of visit highlighted by meetings with presidential chief of staff–parliamentary leadership and Karekin II
YEREVAN-On the second day of its official visit–the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region California delegation–led by State Senator Jack Scott (D-Glendale/Pasadena)–and accompanied by his wife Lacreta Scott–Armenian National Assembly Deputy Aghvan Vardanyan–as well as ANCA-WR representatives Berdj Karapetian and Artin Manoukian–met with a number of high-level governmental officials–including Artashes Toumanyan–Chief of Staff to President Robert Kocharian–Minister of State Revenues Yervand Zakharyan–Deputy Minister of Finance Pavel Zafaryan–Minister of Regional Government and Coordinating the Operation of Infrastructures Hovik Abrahamian–as well as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tigran Torossyan.
Government officials in Armenia informed Senator Scott that they were committed to working actively with California officials on expanding trade. The Armenian officials indicated to Sen. Scott and representatives of the ANCA-WR that a California Trade Office based in Armenia can make a major contribution toward the expansion of trade between California and the Republic of Armenia.
"I am very excited by the support and commitment government officials expressed today during our meetings," remarked Senator Scott who has introduced legislation to establish a Cal. Trade Office in Yerevan.
Toumanyan and Senator Scott discussed the possible ways a trade office in Yerevan could assist small and medium sized California businesses expand trade with Armenia. The presidential representative–who participated in the signing of the Trade Memorandum Of Understanding by California Governor Gray Davis and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian thanked Senator Scott for promoting trade with Armenia.
Minister of Regional Government and Coordinating of the Operation of Infrastructures–Hovig Abrahamian indicated that Armenia’s economy was growing at an average annual rate of 7 percent could serve as a viable market for expanding trade from the Golden State. The government official also pointed out that California would serve as an appropriate market for exported Armenian goods and services. Abrahamian referred to business opportunities in agricultural sectors and high-tech industry as examples of such trade possibilities.
Minister of Education Levon Mkrtchian–who was also present at the meeting discussed the prospects of identifying educational opportunities in the exchange and transfer of knowledge in the area of technology and business administration.
David Lokian–Minister of Urban Development and Reconstruction of the Earthquake Zone–discussed how California and Armenia could cooperate in the areas of seismic retrofitting and use of construction materials to improve opportunities for export of services and goods to emerging markets in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Senator Scott also met with the Minister of State Revenues Yervand Zakharyan to learn more about Armenia’s tax laws and incentives to encourage foreign investmen’s in the country. During the meeting with deputy ministers Pavel Zafaryan and David Avetissian the Senator discussed the possible role and cooperation of Armenia’s economic development agency with the California Trade Office.
In his meetings with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tigran Torossyan–Senator Scott discussed the priorities of the legislative branch. Torossyan stated that they were prepared to address any changes in laws to facilitate the functioning of the California Trade Office in Armenia.
In the conclusion of the second day’s meetings–Senator Scott also met with the National Assembly deputies of the ARF Caucus and thanked them for extending the invitation to him and assisting in arranging the meetings with the various government officials.
Aghvan Vardanyan also conveyed the commitment of the ARF bloc in assisting the Senator achieve his mission of expanding trade.
Senator and Mrs. Scott–and the ANCA-WR delegation met with His Holiness Karekin II in Etchmiadzin–where ceremonies of Palm Sunday were underway. His Holiness welcomed the Senator to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin–and noted with pleasure that the Senator was visiting the headquarters of the Armenian Church on Palm Sunday. His Holiness expressed gratitude to Senator Scott for the work he and other lawmakers have undertaken to increase awareness and seek official recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Senator Scott–who is a theologian–thanked the Catholicos of All Armenia’s for the hospitality of the Armenian Church and the Armenian people–particularly on a day of import to Christian Armenia. Senator Scott touched on a number of activities underway in the California State Senate on the Genocide affirmation front–including the ANCA-WR initiated Genocide curriculum expansion and distribution of materials.
His Holiness thanked Senator Scott for his continued work on issues related to Armenia’s–saying–"We are hopeful that you and your colleagues throughout state legislatures in the United States will be successful in adding the United States to the list of righteous nations who have recognized and condemned the Genocide. We see the clear manifestation of its denial–and the consequences of such in the life of mankind".
During the week-long visit–Senator and Mrs. Scott are scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The ANCA-WR delegation will also visit Armenian businesses and American representatives–including United States Agency for International Development Mission Director Keith Simmons.
The focus of the delegation’s meetings is on strengthening Armenia-California economic and trade ties-an area of intense activity for Senator Scott and the ANCA-WR. Since his election to the 21 State Senate seat–Senator Scott and the ANCA-WR cooperated actively in advancing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between California and Armenia–as a means of arriving at the creation of a publicly funded California Trade office in Armenia–serving the already existing business and trade connections between California and Armenia–which has been devastated by more than a decade-long blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working coordination with a network of offices–chapters–and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world–the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.