Assembly young leadership mission returns home, chairman barsamian joins group

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ASSEMBLY THIS WEEK Monday, July 18, 2005


Participants of the Assembly’s first-ever Young Leadership Group Mission to Armenia returned home last week following a two-week excursion in their ancestral home.

More than 60 Assembly intern alumni, young professionals and families with children met with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, Karabakh Foreign Minister Arman Melikian, and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans. Participants also visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial at Tsitsernakabert, Lake Sevan and the Voske Ser dairy farm and cheese factory, owned and operated by Assembly members Aram Khatcherian and Sarkis Bedevian.

“This Mission was designed to give our young leaders a first-hand look at the region and encourage their future activism in our communities and homeland,” said Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian who was also in Armenia. “This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian Alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots, making it a very special time for our supporters to visit Armenia.”

Six Armenian children joined the American children on the Mission, which included meetings with His Holiness Karekin II on July 3 – a pagan holiday known as Vartavar Day, which celebrates water.

Barsamian, who was on an official visit along with Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, met with President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister Andranik Margarian, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, Defense Minister Serge Sargsian and Parliament Chairman Arthur Baghdasarian to discuss ways to deepen U.S.-Armenia relations.

The trip marked Ardouny’s first visit to the region as the Assembly’s Executive Director.

Barsamian noted the ever-changing nature of life in Armenia, and expressed his belief that these changes were furthering the goals of the Armenian government and the Assembly for improvement of the country.

Deputy Executive Director Peter Abajian and Country Director for Armenia and Karabakh Arpi Vartanian helped lead the Mission and also participated in meetings with Barsamian and Ardouny.


On July 10 in Farmington Hills, MI, more than 100 area supporters of the Great Lakes Regional Council of the Armenian Assembly gathered for the third annual picnic at Heritage Park. Assembly Grassroots Director Nancy Hiteshue gave a legislative update and answered questions about the Assembly’s Terjenian-Thomas Summer Internship Program. Anahid Derbabian, an alumna of the program, also spoke about her experiences as an intern in Washington in 1982.

The picnic also featured an auction of four Armenian rugs donated by Suzanne Hagopian, which raised funds for Assembly programs and activities. Guests feasted on kebab, played tavloo, and enjoyed psychic readings by Ilene Hagopian Blackman.

The Assembly congratulated Council members on another successful event and commended the hard work of event organizers including Robert and Margaret Benian, Edgar Hagopian, Paul Kulhanjian, Natalie Mosher, Shirley Sarkisian, David Terzibashian, Madeline Thomasian and Robert Thomasian.

In related news, on July 2 over 250 community supporters came together for an annual picnic featuring Congressman Tom Allen (D-ME) in Freeport, Maine. Assembly Board of Directors Chairman Anthony Barsamian and State Chair for Maine Gerard Kiladjian were among those in attendance.


On July 12 Congressman Ted Strickland (D-OH) joined the Armenian Caucus as its 145th member. The Congressman, currently serving his sixth term in office, is a cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution.

Born in Ohio, Strickland received a Ph.D. in Counseling and Psychology and went on to become a minister, a psychologist and a college professor before becoming the first psychologist elected to Congress. In 1998 the Congressman voted to maintain Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act.

“I am extremely pleased that Congressman Strickland has decided to join this all-important body,” said Dr. Hagop S. Pambookian, a Professor of Psychology at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, who encouraged Strickland’s membership to the Caucus. “As a friend and former colleague, I can attest to the Congressman’s strong interest in issues facing Armenia and Armenian-Americans. I look forward to working closely with him and his staff on advancing issues of importance, specifically the Armenian Genocide resolution currently pending in Congress.”


On July 12th interns met with Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) to discuss the Armenian Genocide Bill (H. Res. 316), as well as current economic, political and social conditions in Armenia.

Pallone, an original cosponsor of the bill and co-chairman of the Armenian Caucus, emphasized the importance of Genocide recognition by Turkey and said that the main obstacle is getting the resolution to the House floor. If the President and the State Department would allow a vote on it, “the vote would be overwhelming,” stated the Congressman.

Pallone also described Turkey’s present attempts to geographically isolate Armenia and discussed the idea of setting up free trade zones between both countries and the U.S. The following day, interns met with Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian, who gave them a tour of the Embassy and discussed the NK conflict and the challenge of countering inaccurate perceptions of Armenia.

Calendar of Events

10/19-11/1: Annual Mission to Armenia & NKR

11/13: Capitol Regional Holiday Reception; Washington, DC


1140 19th Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 393-3434 FAX (202) 638-4904

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