Reflects on Past Quarter Century of U.S.-Armenia Relations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) celebrates the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence.
The Assembly was actively involved in the drive to independence in the years preceding September 21, 1991. The Assembly opened its office in Yerevan immediately after the December 1988 earthquake and played a major role in spearheading U.S. assistance to the people of Armenia. The Assembly also provided facilities for the official representation of the new republic before the formal opening of an embassy in Washington.
In a letter to Armenia’s president, Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian stated, “On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian Assembly of America extends our heartfelt congratulations to you, the people of Armenia, and Armenians around the world.”
“We recall with pride the unity shown on this day 25 years ago and salute everyone who contributed to the successful drive to independence. Today, as we reflect on the challenges Armenia has overcome and the indomitable spirit of our people, we reaffirm our non-partisan support for Armenia’s continued economic and democratic development. Such support, we believe, is best for Armenia and best for the diaspora,” Barsamian and Krikorian continued.
President Barack Obama in his message stated “On behalf of the United States, I congratulate you and the people of Armenia as you celebrate 25 years of independence this September 21.
The United States has been a steadfast partner of Armenia from the first days of its independence. We remain committed to the promise of those early years, when Armenians proudly raised their tricolor flag for the first time since 1920. Today, we again affirm our belief that a secure, prosperous, and democratic Armenia is essential for the security for the Armenian people and for the region more broadly.
We thank Armenia for its support of our shared goals, particularly its response to the Syrian refugee crisis and its contributions to global peacekeeping operations and nuclear security. We will continue to work together to help Armenia realize its full potential.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on September 19, pointing out America’s “warm friendship” with Armenia. “On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I want to extend my congratulations to the people of Armenia as you celebrate the 25th anniversary of your nation’s independence on September 21,” Kerry said. “The United States deeply values its warm friendship with Armenia and with all of you. In the past quarter century, Armenia has made great progress, and my government looks forward to continuing to work closely with you in support of shared prosperity, strong democratic institutions, the rule of law, and regional peace.” Kerry also thanked Armenia’s leading role in responding to the Syrian refugee crisis and highlighted the “vibrant and highly-accomplished Armenian-American community.”
The U.S. government has been supporting the Republic of Armenia’s development since its independence from the Soviet Union. In 1991, U.S. Representatives Wayne Owens (D-UT), F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), Richard Lehman (D-CA), and Michael McNulty (D-NY) traveled to Armenia to represent Congress as observers to the Armenian Independence Referendum. At a press conference on September 22, 1991 organized by the Assembly’s Yerevan office, the Congressmen commented on their assessment of the election and said they planned to urge then-President George H.W. Bush to grant formal U.S. recognition of Armenia.
Upon returning to Washington, the four Congressmen told President Bushthat “the electoral processes were democratic, carefully administered to assure that the free choice of the people of Armenia was expressed, and that, as you already know, the people of Armenia have overwhelmingly chosen to separate themselves from what remains of the Soviet Union.”
On October 18, 1991, following this referendum, over 100 Members of Congress signed a letter to President Bush requesting immediate diplomatic recognition to the new nation of Armenia, as well as becoming Armenia’s sponsor for a seat in the United Nations. “The Armenian people have struggled to achieve their independence and they deserve our recognition and assistance,” the U.S. Representatives told President Bush.
President Bush made the historic decision to recognize the independent Republic of Armenia on December 25, 1991.
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 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
Photo Caption 1: President Serzh Sargsyan and delegation at the 25th Independence Day Parade.
Photo Caption 2: Armenian Assembly of America President Carolyn Mugar, Assembly Chairman Emeritus Hirair Hovnanian, and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian with Assembly trustees in Armenia for the Housing Component Complex grand opening in Gyumri on October 28, 1991.
Photo Caption 3: President Levon Ter-Petrossian, Assembly Board Solicitor Mark Momjian, and Raffi Hovannisian.
Photo Caption 4: Representative Michael McNulty (D-NY), Rep. Richard Lehman (D-CA), President Levon Ter-Petrossian, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), and Wayne Owens (D-UT) in Armenia to observe the September 21 referendum vote on independence.
Photo Caption 5: Assembly Board Co-Chairman Van Krikorian presents letter and documents from Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian to United Nations Secretary General Perez de Cuellar.
Photo Caption 6: Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director Dr. Rouben Adalian and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian in a meeting with President George H.W. Bush at the White House on May 12, 1991.