WASHINGTON, D.C. – Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian, along with Executive Director Bryan Ardouny and Grassroots & Development Associate Mariam Khaloyan, held meetings earlier this month in Washington, D.C. with Members of Congress and the State Department, advocating for priority issues of concern to Armenian Americans.
“As Turkey unfortunately continues to radically distance itself from the West and expands its established pattern of duplicity and unreliability, the United States needs to recalibrate policies, call balls and strikes fairly, strengthen its relationships with Armenia and Artsakh, and establish clarity on Turkey’s responsibilities for failing to implement the Protocols on normalizing relations and opening the border with Armenia. The U.S. needs to start communicating the consequences of both Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s deep ties to terrorism, interference in U.S. politics, and condemnable actions in Syria and the region, especially as Azerbaijan continues to violate cease-fire agreements as an aggressor to prop up the Aliyev regime,” Assembly Co-Chairs Krikorian and Barsamian said.
While on Capitol Hill, the Assembly met with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA). The Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America, Abp. Vicken Aykazian, joined the Assembly to discuss a broad range of issues, including the plight of Christians in the Middle East and the Artsakh peace process.
During their meeting with Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), who spoke about his recent visit to Armenia and Artsakh, Barsamian emphasized the importance of seeing firsthand the challenges in the region, especially given Azerbaijan’s ongoing hostile actions and their deadly consequences. Barsamian thanked the Congressman for his leadership in demining efforts in Artsakh, as well as his work to strengthen U.S.-Armenia relations. The Assembly expressed its deep appreciation to Rep. Valadao for spearheading a bipartisan amendment to ensure continued funding for demining projects in Artsakh. The amendment, which called for $1.5 million in funding, was adopted as part of consideration of H.R.3354, which consolidated numerous Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills.
Armenian Assembly Co-Chairs likewise discussed U.S.-Armenia relations with various congressional offices, including Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).
Thereupon, Congresswoman Pingree agreed to join the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. She serves on the House Appropriations Committee and represents Maine’s first congressional district.
“I am honored to join my colleagues in the Armenian Caucus. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with many Armenian-Americans who live in in my district and I am thrilled to join this Caucus to advance United-States Armenian relations,” Rep. Pingree told the Assembly.
In addition to meetings with Congress, the Assembly also held discussions with U.S. State Department officials with respect to ongoing developments in the region, including the treatment of minority communities in Turkey, the confiscation and physical damage to the Armenian cathedral Surp Giragos in Diyarbakir, and current conditions in Artsakh after Azerbaijan escalated its daily ceasefire violations into outright warfare in April 2016. They also discussed the United States’ reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
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.