Thousands braved the scorching heat on Sunday to converge on Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles and welcome Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and hear him address the local Armenian community in his first trip since becoming prime minister in May, 2018 after a popular movement that toppled the government of Serzh Sarkisian.
Pashinyan, who arrived in Los Angeles late early Sunday morning, had a full schedule meeting with Armenian community organizational leaders, holding a press conference and attending a reception at City Hall hosted by L.A. City Councilmember Paul Krekorian who organized the event with L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, before meeting the community at Grand Park. Los Angeles Fire Marshal’s office estimated that 18,000 people attended the public rally.
As the City Hall reception concluded, political officials, dignitaries and guests descended the City Hall steps for the official program. As host of the rally, Councilmember Krekorian kicked off the program by introducing the many federal, state and local officials who had gathered to welcome Pashinyan to Los Angeles. He also took time to thank all individuals, city and county departments and their leaders for ensuring a safe and successful event.
Speaking at the rally were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Representative Adam Schiff, State Senator Anthony Portantino, State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and LA County Supervisor Barger.
An exuberant and impatient crowd roared as Pashinyan was called to the stage and with chants of “Nikol, Nikol, Nikol,” welcomed the prime minister, who, in what has become commonplace for him, embraced the cheers and took his place at the podium to deliver what was one of the most important addresses since assuming office.
The more than one-hour speech focused on his impression of what it means to be Armenian and advanced the concept Pan-Armenianism, which included granting every Armenian citizenship to the country.
“I hope that the 10 million Armenians around the world will become, allow me to say so – the promoter of Armenia, because Armenia is the country for all of us and Armenia is our homeland,” Pashinyan said.
He expressed hope that after the developments which took place in Armenia interest towards Armenia will grow among the Armenian youth. “I have already been told that this is already taking place, that hundreds, thousands of Armenians—young Armenians in America and elsewhere—who didn’t speak Armenian have begun, after the revolution, to become more interested in their country, their identity and history.”
“Because,” he said “being Armenian is cool.”
The prime minister also spoke about his vision of what he called the “Great Repatriation.” In this realm, Pashinyan said that by saying one lives in Armenia did not necessarily mean that the person is physically living in Armenia, but has a home to call their own there.
He said that in modern times people are constantly on the move, with most people spending their time traveling, whether for business or pleasure.
“Great repatriation means, for instance, to live physically in Armenia for a month or two months a year. Today the real estate prices have significantly increased in Armenia and Yerevan, and having a house in Yerevan, Armenia, means to make a very good and reliable investment, and every Armenian who does not yet have a house in Armenia should have one. Repatriation means to have a business in Armenia, and the most important is to have a citizenship of Armenia. Every Armenian should have citizenship of Armenia,” explained Pashinyan.
Armenia is not only representing its population, but also the o entire 10 million Armenians and is going to restore its economic, political, scientific and cultural greatness, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a meeting with the Armenian community in Los Angeles.
“The Armenian people are victorious. They are heroes, talented people who created a civilization and as Sevak says in his poem they are people who possess a will to give back. And yes, we had a very difficult history. Sometimes we even were on the brink of collapse, but we survived the genocide, the migration, we survived the wars, the hunger, the geopolitical collapses. The key mission of today’s generation is to restore the greatness of our people and show it to the world, but first of all to ourselves,” said Pashinyan.
In his remarks, Pashinyan also declared that if it weren’t for Diaspora’s continued efforts and support, Armenia as we know it today would not exist. He commended the Diaspora, especially the Los Angeles Armenian community, for steadfastly heeding the call of the homeland and supporting the people of Armenia and Artsakh. He also singled out Kirk Kerkorian and his Lincy Foundation for the enormous impact they had in advancing Armenia’s roads and modernizing key aspects of transportation in the country.
The Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School choir performed the American and Armenian National Anthems at the start of the program.
Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Reverend Berdj Djambazian of the Armenian Evangelical Church said the Invocation of the event.
Asbarez will have coverage of other events related to Pashinyan’s visit to Los Angeles in its future editions.