Armenian Assembly of America Celebrates 24th Anniversary of Artsakh’s Independence on Capitol Hill

Armenian Assembly of America Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Armenian Assembly of America
(Assembly) joined the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues in co-hosting the
annual Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh independence celebration on Capitol Hill, alongside
the U.S. Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR), the Embassy of Armenia
in the U.S., and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Last night’s event
was in celebration of “Freedom and Democracy of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic,”
marking the 24th anniversary of independence.

Armenian
Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) opened the program. He was joined by
fellow Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) who gave
remarks, and introduced keynote speaker NKR Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan.
Also in attendance at the celebratory event was House Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep.
Adam Schiff (D-CA), as well as Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim
Costa (D-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV).

Armenia’s
Ambassador to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan, NKR Representative to the U.S. Robert
Avetisyan, U.S. OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Ambassador James Warlick, former U.S.
Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, Westbrook (Maine) City Councilor Anna Astvatsaturian
Turcotte, and many others attended the Capitol Hill celebration.

Diocesan
Legate of the Armenian Church of America Archbishop Vicken Aykazian and St.
Mary Armenian Church of Washington, D.C. Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetian performed
the invocation and benediction.

During his 3-day
trip to Washington, Mirzoyan met with U.S. government officials, Members of
Congress, and Armenian American community leaders. Prior to the Capitol Hill
event, Mirzoyan visited the Assembly headquarters to meet with Executive
Director Bryan Ardouny. Mirzoyan and Ardouny discussed ways to strengthen the
U.S.–Nagorno Karabakh bilateral relationship, critical U.S. assistance to
Karabakh, updates on the increased Azerbaijan attacks along the line of
contact, as well as regional and global challenges. Mirzoyan thanked the
Assembly for its steadfast commitment to the people of Artsakh and for the
Assembly’s work in Karabakh and Armenia.

On the 24th
anniversary of NKR on September 2, 2015, Co-Chairs of the Congressional
Armenian Caucus Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Robert J. Dold
(R-IL) wrote a letter congratulating NKR President Bako Sahakyan and the people
of Artsakh on their independence. The co-chairs noted that “the formation
of the [Artsakh] republic in 1991 opened a path towards freedom and democracy,
and your people continue to demonstrate their dedication to these universal
values.” In the letter, Reps. Pallone and Dold also expressed support to
Artsakh’s “efforts toward international recognition, and look forward to
the day when it assumes its deserved place in the community of nations.”

As Members
of Congress were set to gather on Capitol Hill to mark the freedom movement of
Karabakh Armenians, Azerbaijan’s military again launched attacks on Nagorno
Karabakh, this time using heavy tank fire for the first time since the
ceasefire was signed in 1994. U.S. Ambassador Warlick personally witnessed Azerbaijan’s
ceasefire violations on the frontline as the OSCE Minsk Group delegation came
under fire
when visiting the region in October.

The annual
Capitol Hill celebration is an opportunity for the U.S. and Nagorno Karabakh to
reinforce their bilateral partnership. According to State Department
coordinator for U.S. assistance to the former Soviet Union Alina Romanowski the
U.S. will continue to finance
humanitarian projects in Nagorno Karabakh as part
of the annual economic assistance package appropriated by the U.S. Congress.

At least
$44.5 million in direct aid to Karabakh has been approved by Congress since
1998. The majority of the aid goes toward humanitarian efforts, demining
operations, and the reconstruction of the NKR’s water distribution network. The
Assembly has also worked towards demining initiatives in Karabakh in
cooperation with HALO Trust and the Marshal Legacy Institute.

Established
in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based
nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of
Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501©(3) tax-exempt
membership organization.

Additional photographs from the Capitol Hill event are available on the Assembly’s Facebook Page.

Photo
Caption 1 (L-R): Armenian Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian,
Kathryn Porter, Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL), Nagorno Karabakh Foreign Minister
Karen Mirzoyan

Photo
Caption 2 (L-R): NKR Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, Armenian
Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian, NKR Foreign Minister Karen
Mirzoyan, Armenian Assembly Public Affairs Associate Danielle Saroyan, Armenian
Ambassador to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan, and Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank
Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)

Photo
Caption 3: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)

Photo
Caption 4: House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

About Armenian Assembly of America

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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