Armenian Assembly Honors 25th Anniversary of Artsakh’s Independence On Capitol Hill

The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) joined the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues in co-hosting the annual 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 titled “Celebrating Artsakh as an American Story: A Victory of Freedom over Oppression,” marking the 25th anniversary of independence.

Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), as well as Vice Co-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) attended the event and spoke about Artsakh’s independence. They highlighted the letter the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs and Vice Co-Chairs sent to NKR President Bako Sahakyan and the people of Artsakh on their Independence Day on September 2.

“This historic day represents an important milestone in Artsakh’s struggle to defend its right to self-determination and liberty,” the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs and Vice Co-Chairs told President Sahakyan. The letter also underlined Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to “advance democratic governance and rule of law,” despite continued threats and violence emanating from Azerbaijan.

During his remarks, Rep. Pallone recalled a presidential election he observed in Artsakh, where he witnessed “the most free and fair election” that he had ever seen. Rep. Pallone then promised that the Armenian Caucus would be just as strong and active as ever to make Karabakh a priority with the new administration and State Department.

Armenian Caucus Members Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), in addition to former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, also spoke during the Congressional event about Artsakh’s freedom and their hope for a peaceful resolution for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict that includes Artsakh at the negotiation table.

Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian introduced keynote speaker NKR Prime Minister Ara Haroutyunyan who spoke about Artsakh’s accomplishments and challenges, as well as his gratitude for U.S. support.

“The people of Artsakh highly appreciate the role of the United States within the framework of OSCE Minsk Group in the realization of necessary steps directed at the preservation of peace and final peaceful settlement of the conflict. We are glad that the U.S. shares our position in the protection of the rights of Karabakhi people and inadmissibility of military activities,” Prime Minister Haroutyunyan stated. “From that perspective, we are also grateful to the seven U.S. states – Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Louisiana, California, Georgia, and Hawaii for supporting the independence of Artsakh Republic and our people’s right to self-determination,” he continued.

Prime Minister Haroutyunyan also thanked The HALO Trust organization for clearing over 4,500 acres of mine fields in Karabakh since 2000 and helping to keep its citizens safer. He discussed the need for more humanitarian aid for Artsakh, especially for the expansion of the existing Lady Cox Center, which provides services to wounded and disabled people in Stepanakert. The Assembly advocated for U.S. funding for this center in theirFiscal Year 2017 testimony, stating: “The Assembly also supports assistance for the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center in Stepanakert and reiterates the Pallone-Dold request for funds to support ‘rehabilitation and regional clinics, which serve over 1,000 children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities every year.’ “

NKR Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, Westbrook (Maine) City Councilor Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, St. Mary Armenian Church Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetian, and many others were also in attendance at the Capitol Hill celebration.

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