By Dickran Khodanian,
YEREVAN, Armenia – The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s 2019 Legislative Delegation Trip to Armenia concluded day three with a number of high-level meetings with government officials as well as a press conference that took place on the morning of July 31.
The press conference at ArmenPress, which was attended and covered by every major media outlet in Armenia, gave the delegation the opportunity to convey its impressions and plans for future relations with Armenia. Speakers included ANCA-WR Chairperson Nora Hovsepian, CA Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, CO Representative Daneya Esgar, AZ State Senator Tony Navarrete, and LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian stressed the key role of the ANCA in helping Armenia secure over 2 billion dollars in U.S. foreign aid since its independence. Hovsepian explained that despite recent steps by the U.S. Administration to cut funding to Armenia, the ANCA continues to advocate to maintain and increase vital funding to expand Armenia’s economy and support democracy-building measures. Members of the delegation emphasized the importance of U.S.-Armenia relations and pledged their support to work towards strengthening the current relationship on a sub-national level.
Specifically, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis discussed ongoing efforts to formalize in written form an agreement of cooperation between California and Armenia to facilitate trade, investment, cultural exchange, education, and efforts to combat climate change. Supervisor Barger pledged to provide resources from the County of Los Angeles to work with various departments in the Armenian government on issues of infrastructure, transparency, election integrity, and anti-corruption measures. Senator Navarrete announced his intention to formulate a plan to open an Arizona-Armenia Trade Office and expand Armenian Genocide education in public schools. State Representative Daneya Esgar discussed her intention to bring TUMO to Colorado and to assist Armenia with student exchanges and rural economic development. All of the delegation members thanked the ANCA-WR for organizing the trip and the Armenian people and government for their warm welcome and hospitality, expressing their lasting impressions of Armenia and the positive energy and inspiration created by its Velvet Revolution. All pledged their intention to return to Armenia and to expand sub-national relations with their States.
Day three featured meetings and productive discussions with Deputy Foreign Minister Grigor Hovhannissian, High Commissioner of Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan, and First Deputy Minister of Environment Irina Ghaplanyan.
The delegation’s working lunch with Deputy Foreign Minister Hovhannissian, who also previously served as the Armenian Ambassador to the US and Mexico and the Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles, was held at the Van Ardi Winery at the base of Mt. Ararat. Discussions included ways in which the three States could partner with Armenia to advance its democratic and economic development and expansion.
Meanwhile with High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan, whose office helped facilitate the delegation’s itinerary, a productive discussion included ways to improve Armenia-Diaspora relations specifically in regards to California, Arizona, and Colorado, home to diverse Armenian communities.
In the meeting with Deputy Environment Minister Irina Ghaplanyan, the delegation discussed a variety of ecological issues, including forest fire mitigation, alternative and clean energy projects, and algae bloom prevention.
The delegation is comprised of California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis; Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; Chief of Staff to Supervisor Barger Anna Mouradian; Arizona State Senators Paul Boyer and Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete; Colorado State Senator Dominick Moreno; and Colorado State Representative Daneya Esgar. The ANCA-WR Board chairwoman Nora Hovsepian is accompanied by fellow Board members Sako Berberian and Lina Davidian, as well as ANCA-WR’s Community Development Coordinator Simon Maghakyan.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
Armdel2019 press conference: The delegation held a press conference at ArmenPress, which was attended and covered by every major media outlet in Armenia.
Armdel2019 ZS: The 2019 ANCA-WR Armenia Delegation with High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan.
Armdel2019 Dep FM: Members of the ANCA-WR Armenia Delegation with Deputy Foreign Minister Grigor Hovhannissian.
Armdel2019 Lt Gov and Dep FM: From l to r: Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigor Hovhannissian, and ANCA-WR Board Member Sako Berberian.
Armdel2019 at lunch: The delegation enjoyed a work lunch with Deputy FM Hovhannissian at Van Ardi Winery at the base of Mt. Ararat.
Armdel2019 Env Min: Members of the delegation with First Deputy Minister of Environment Irina Ghaplanyan.