WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) congratulates its Board of Trustees Co-Chair Van Krikorian for being awarded Armenia’s Medal of Honor. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan conferred the “Order of Honor” on September 29, pursuant to a September 15, 2017 decree recognizing Krikorian’s “contribution to strengthening Homeland-Diaspora ties, as well as his long-term patriotic activities.”
Van Krikorian began working with the Assembly in 1977, and served as its Director of Government & Legal Affairs between 1988 and 1992. A longtime board member, he served in multiple offices over the years, as Chairman of the Board of Directors (1998-2001) and Co-Chairman of the Board of Trustees since 2015. He also serves as Chairman of the Armenian National Institute (ANI) since 2011, and was Armenia’s Counselor and Deputy Representative to the United Nations in 1992.
“This was a humbling surprise and I feel the honor reflects on everyone who shared in the efforts over the years to build an independent, democratic Armenia and Artsakh, to deal with the consequences of the Armenian Genocide, to enhance the United States-Armenia relationship, and to work for human rights around the world. That starts with my family and the Armenian Assembly and also includes the many community institutions and individuals here and around the world with whom I have been privileged to be associated,” Krikorian stated. “At the ceremony, my mind also went back to being in Nagorno Karabakh over twenty-five years ago when I first met President Sargsyan with Monte Melkonian and others fighting to prevent a catastrophe in much worse times – how far we have come from those days.”
The Medal of Honor is awarded for “notable services in protecting state and national interests of the Republic of Armenia and establishment of independence and democracy, as well as for significant contribution to building, strengthening, and promoting friendship and reinforcing peace between peoples.”
Mr. Krikorian was instrumental in obtaining United States aid to Armenia after the 1988 earthquake and following independence as well as assistance to the Nagorno Karabakh Republic over the years. In 1991, Mr. Krikorian was appointed and served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Moscow Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) meetings.
He initiated several pieces of U.S. human rights legislation, including Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and the Humanitarian Aid Corridors Act. In the 1993 decision Krikorian v. Department of State, the District of Columbia Federal Court of Appeals acknowledged that United States policy historically recognized the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Krikorian was a member of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, which began in 2001 and concluded in 2004, after the Commission jointly produced the International Center for Transitional Justice legal opinion on the applicability of the UN Genocide Convention to the Armenian Genocide as well as recommendations to concerned governments. He also was amicus counsel in the Federal District Court and Court of Appeals cases rejecting attempts to force denialist “contra” Armenian Genocide teaching in Massachusetts public schools.
“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly Board of Trustees, we all congratulate Van for his tireless years of hard work advocating for Armenian-American issues. Beginning before Krikorian v. Department of State, Van has also always spoke truth to power and fought for justice. He has worked vigorously for decades to further Armenia-United States relations, and bring light to the importance of peace and cooperation,” Assembly Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian said.
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.