Working visit of President Serzh Sargsyan to United States of America
On March 28, President Serzh Sargsyan started his working visit to the United States of America. In Massachusetts, President Serzh Sargsyan visited Watertown, which has many residents of the Armenian descent, who is last two centuries established there strong national structures. First, President Sargsyan was hosted at the Armenian library-museum of America which was founded in 1971. The Museum is an important structure which presents Armenian cultural heritage – coins, articles made of ceramics, pottery, carpets, religious articles, stamps, textile, metal work, maps, printed works and a rich collection of medieval miniatures. The President toured the premise of the library-museum, familiarized with the exhibits, and conversed with the staff about the activities of this cultural establishment. The President of Armenia augmented the collection of the museum with a picture of Jansem which he presented to the museum.
Afterwards, Serzh Sargsyan visited Paykar Center of Ramkavar Liberal Party and Hairenik center of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, familiarized with the activities of these two Armenian traditional parties and conditions they work in. Hairenik Center of Boston is the oldest Armenian center on the East coast. The East coast ARF office, headquarters of the Armenian Relief Society, Hairenik radiostation, editorial staff of Armenian Weekly and Hayrenik Weekly papers are functioning here. The ARF party archives are also kept here - in Hayrenik center. It contains materials related to the activities of the Party during the First Republic of 1918-1920 and subsequent decades. At the Center, the President of Armenia met with the representatives of the ARF. Serzh Sargsyan greeted and stressed the equal importance of the patriotic activities of the traditional parties and wished them all the best.
At the first day of his visit to the United States, President Sargsyan visited also the Armenian Churches of Saint Stepanos and Saint Trinity. By the way, in 1991 at the proposal of the Armenian community of Watertown, the Saint Stepanos street was renamed into Artsakh street, while on August 6, 2012 the House of Representatives of Massachusetts adopted a resolution urging the President of the United States and Congress to support independence of Nagorno Karabakh and its right for self-determination.
The visit to the Saint Trinity Church concluded the first day of the working visit of the President of Armenia to the US. In the Book of Honorary Guests of the Saint Trinity Church, Serzh Sargsyan made an inscription and stressed the special role of the Armenian Church in the preservation of the Armenian identity and highlighted the importance of its historic mission.
President Serzh Sargsyan, who is at the United States on a working visit, continues his meetings in Massachusetts with the representatives of the Armenian structures, which enjoy high repute and play a considerable role in this state, community figures, as well as with the representatives of the state authorities which stand out with their activities and promote Armenia and Armenians, and other friends of the Armenian nation.
On March 29, Serzh Sargsyan visited the Old North Church of Boston. A holy liturgy was served with the participation of the vicar of the Church T. Stephen Ayres and Armenian clergy. This Episcopal church was the first that back in 18th century allowed Armenian immigrants arriving to the US to serve liturgy in the church. The Church which was built in 1723 in the northern part of Boston, is the oldest church building in Boston. The visit of the President of Armenia to the Old North Church, which had a significant impact on the American Revolution, is meant to pay tribute to one of the symbols of the American independence and show appreciation toward this church and in general to the Anglican Church for their benevolent attitude toward Armenians.
Later, Serzh Sargsyan visited the Armenian Heritage Park which was created to commemorate the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and other subsequent genocides as well as to glorify the great contribution of the Armenian Americans and other immigrants who settled in Massachusetts and Boston. Accompanied by the former governor of Massachusetts Patrick Deval, who played a great role in the creation of the Park, representatives of the Boston City Hall, Co-chair of the Massachusetts Committee on coordination of the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide James Galustian, Sheriff of Middlesex county, member of the Executive Committee of the Armenian Heritage Fund, which carried out the construction works of the Park, Peter Koutujian, other members of the Fund and representatives of the Armenian community toured the Park, where the Armenian Heritage Park is located, visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial, laid a wreath and paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the Genocide. At the conclusion of the tour, President Serzh Sargsyan also paid tribute at the Holocaust Memorial.
The March 29 schedule of the President’s working visit includes also a number of other events.
On March 29, President Sargsyan visited the Modern Therapeutics Company which was established in 2011 and is developing a new generation medication. One of the founders of the Company is the Armenian-American Noubar Afeyan who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Modern Therapeutics today employs over three hundred workers. The Company has centers in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in Stockholm, Sweden. The President of Armenia met with the founder of the Company Noubar Afeyan and Executive Director Stephen Bansel and later accompanied by them toured the Modern Therapeutics and familiarized with the activities of the Company, new technologies used by the Company and with the forthcoming cooperation programs of the Company with a number of major pharmaceutical company and research institutions.
Same day, President Sargsyan visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and media laboratory of this educational institution. First, Serzh Sargsyan met with the Rector of MIT Rafael Reif, then with the founder of the media laboratory Nicolas Negroponte. Later accompanied by the Executive Director of the Luys Foundation’s educational program Jaclyn Karapetian toured the media laboratory after which he visited the Samberg Conference Center. Here a reception was held with the participation of the Armenian-American scientists and a meeting with the fellows and alumni of the Luys Foundation. The President of Armenia made a statement.
On March 30, the third day of his working visit to the United States, President Serzh Sargsyan visited the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The President of Armenia held meetings with James Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School – one of the best world schools for international relations, President of the Tavitian Foundation Aso Tavitian, with the citizens of Armenia who study at the Fletcher School in the framework of the Tavitian Educational Program, and faculty of the School.
During these meetings, Serzh Sargsyan responded also to the questions raised by the professors and participants of the educational program, which were related to Armenia’s foreign policy, prospects of the country’s economic development, priority areas, etc. At Tufts University, the President of Armenia met also with the President of the University Anthony Monaco.
The Fletcher School offers a number of educational programs for all those who want to study here. To assist young Armenians, Aso Tavitian in 1980-s established the Tavitian Foundation. Through the funding of the Foundation, numerous students from independent Armenia have studied in this prestigious institution. Nowadays, many of young specialists from the Armenian state institutions continue to benefit from this opportunity, upgrading their professional skills at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Until now, the Foundation has provided financing for over 16 programs for the state sector of Armenia, making nearly 15 million USD worth investments to this program. The Tavitian Foundation has also sponsored trips of the Deans and prominent professors of the School to Armenia, providing them with the opportunity to learn firsthand about Armenia, Armenian people, regional and current geopolitical realities.
Each year, the program receives hundreds of applications. The Foundation has pledged to continue with the program as long as the Government of Armenia needs it.
Cooperation between the Fletcher School and Tavitian Foundation has resulted in producing over 250 graduates, who returned to Armenia to work and thus to implement their knowledge and skills for the benefit of Fatherland.
President Serzh Sargsyan, who is at the United States on a working visit, on March 30 met with the Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker. At the meeting, which took place after the official welcoming ceremony, the President of Armenia noted with satisfaction that Armenia and the United States maintain friendly relations and close cooperation. He expressed gratitude for the continued assistance provided by the US to Armenia in various areas. In the development of the bilateral interstate relations, President Serzh Sargsyan stressed the significant role played by the states and state of Massachusetts in particular. The President noted that Armenia attaches importance to decentralized cooperation and with this regard would like to establish direct ties with Massachusetts. According to the President, cooperation can be of the instructive nature but can also promote close ties in the areas of education, science, information technologies and other areas.
The President of Armenia expressed gratitude for Governor Baker’s resolute stance on the issue of recognition of the Armenian Genocide and support to the Armenian nation. Serzh Sargsyan noted that he was glad that the leadership of Massachusetts has traditionally maintained a fair position on this issue which is proved by the fact that at the end of the 19th century, a large number of the Armenians who had managed to escape massacres of the Hamidian era and later the Armenian Genocide, found refuge here, in Massachusetts. According to the President, it is also testified to by the fact that the history of the Armenian Genocide was introduced in the curriculum of the state schools.
The President of Armenia hailed special role of Massachusetts, which played a decisive part in America’s fight for independence, toward the NK issue.
Highlighting Massachusetts’ considerable potential in the area of science and noting that it would suffice to mention among prestigious institutions functioning here the Harvard University and MIT, President mentioned with appreciation that Massachusetts and the United States in general with its scientific and educational potential after Armenia’s independence has also supported Armenia in statehood building processes. The President of Armenia hailed the assistance provided by the Government of the United States in preparing high class Armenian professionals.
Underlining that Armenia-Massachusetts relations have a promising future and Armenia is interested in maintaining close relations with the state, Serzh Sargsyan invited Governor Charlie Baker to visit Armenia.
At the conclusion of the meeting, there took place a working dinner with the participation of Governor Charlie Baker, members of the state House of Representatives, and community leaders.
In the framework of his working visit to the United States, President Serzh Sargsyan on March 30 visited the Kennedy School of the Harvard University where he met with the Armenian students who study in this establishment. At the School of Governance, the President of Armenia gave a lecture after which he responded to the questions raised by the audience and spoke about the agenda of the Armenian-American interstate relations, the current stage of the NK peace process, existing problems and challenges, results of his working visit to the United States, Constitutional changes and development of the Electoral Code, future elections to be held in Armenia based on new and reformed legal procedures, economic potential for Armenia’s development, as well as about the Armenia-Diaspora relations.
President Sargsyan met also with the Marshal of the Harvard University Jackie O’Neill. At the conclusion of the meeting, President made an inscription in the Book of Honorary Guests, “Investment into education is probably the most guaranteed investment there is: it is a perpetual, life-long investment. Through its technologically rich labs, research centers, libraries and most importantly through the human potential, the Harvard University has established an exceptionally high bar of a high-quality education. I am glad that Armenian young people have the opportunity to study in this University and to use knowledge acquired here for the benefit of human advancement, empowerment of Armenia, and for the prosperity of the people,” reads the inscription of the President of Armenia.
On March 30, President Serzh Sargsyan visited the Armenian Saint Hakop Church of Massachusetts. Accompanied by the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Father Khajak Archbishop Parsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the USA of the Greater House of Cilicia Father Oshakan Archbishop Choloyan, the founder of the Armenia Tree Project Caroline Mugar and representatives of the Armenian community, the President laid a wreath and paid tribute at the monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Later, the President of Armenia had a meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community of the East Coast and made a statement. At the conclusion of the meeting, the President awarded a group of community representatives with high state awards and letters of commendation. In particular, on the occasion of Armenia’s Independence Holiday and for a significant contribution to the strengthening of the Armenia-Diaspora relations, President of the Boston University Doctor Aram Chobanian was awarded the Mkhitar Gosh Medal; for the impressive organization and implementation of the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, members the US Boston area Coordinating Commission Anthony Barsamian, James Galustian, and Ara Nazarian received Presidential Letters of Commendation.
President Serzh Sargsyan continues his working visit to the United States. On March 31, the President of Armenia visited St. Stephen national seminary. Accompanied by Headmaster Houri Boyamian and other officials, Serzh Sargsyan toured the premise, inquired about the current activities of this educational institution, existing problems and programs, conversed with the students and tutors. Over 170 community children of different age attend this educational establishment which was created by the St. Stephen’s Church almost 30 years ago.
Same day, President Sargsyan visited the Edward Kennedy Institute, where he was greeted by the widow of the US Senator Ted Kennedy Mrs. Victoria Kennedy who invited him to tour the institute. Later, President Sargsyan made an inscription in the Book of Guests: “For me, the visit to the Edward Kennedy Institute bears a symbolic nature: A great American whose activities allowed to unequivocally call him Friend of Armenia. The Senator’s vision regarding this Institute is the best testimony of his selfless dedication to public service and urge to strengthen within the society trust toward political institutions, and Senate in particular. Institutions such as this one, produce generation with high civil conscience, including future leaders,” reads the inscription of the President of Armenia.
President Serzh Sargsyan, who is at the United States on a working visit, on March 31 arrived to Washington DC from Boston. Later, at the White House he met with the Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden who also met with the President of Armenia nearly one year ago - on May 7, 2015 during the interfaith liturgy held at the Washington National Cathedral and dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The parties underscored that since Armenia’s independence, the Armenian-American relations have constantly been on the rise thanks to mutual efforts and reciprocal political will. President Sargsyan and Vice President Biden noted with satisfaction that currently the agenda of the interstate relations comprises a number of areas – political, economic, humanitarian, and security and that in these areas the two countries each year register new achievements.
According to Serzh Sargsyan, thanks to mutual efforts, the Armenian-American cooperation is currently at the highest level in its history which is also testified to by reciprocal visits of different levels conducted in recent years. The President of Armenia hailed the assistance provided by the United States aimed at Armenia’s economic advancement and implementation of reforms in different areas.
Serzh Sargsyan also stressed the importance of the role played by the US in maintaining regional security and stability, especially active involvement of the United States in the NK peace process.
Along with the items of the Armenia-US agenda, at the meeting the parties referred also to the situation in the South Caucasus, pressing international issues and challenges. In that context, the parties exchanged views on the NK peace process in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and developments in the Middle East.
The President of Armenia noted that in bringing the Azeri leadership to senses, the Armenian side is relying on the international community and particularly on the active engagement of the Co-Chair states which should undertake practical steps that can still make a difference.
President Sargsyan expressed appreciation to the US congressmen for their attention toward the NK issue and for their energetic efforts aimed at the peaceful resolution of the NK issue. According to the President of Armenia, steps taken by the congressmen could be instructive for the parliamentarians of many other states.
Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia is deeply concerned with the actions of the terrorist groups carried out in the vicinity of our country and strongly condemns them. The President mentioned with pain that as a result of the atrocities conducted in Iraq and Syria many Armenians residing there are being killed or become refugees and that centuries old relics of the Armenian spiritual and cultural heritage are destroyed and damaged.
Vice President Biden praised Armenia’s efforts in providing shelter to a large number of refugees from Syria and for creating normal living conditions for the Syrian Armenians.
The interlocutors expressed hope that there will be developed efficient mechanisms for the resolution of the problems of the minorities residing in the Middle East, for the return of the Christian communities, and for the protection of their ancient culture and heritage. Serzh Sargsyan and Joseph Biden also expressed confidence that it would be possible to withstand exiting challenges by joining efforts.
President Serzh Sargsyan, who is conducting a working visit at the United States to participate at the Nuclear Security Summit, on April 1 in Washington, met with the US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The parties referred to the agenda of the high-level Armenian-American relations, current international issues, crisis in the Middle East, situation in the South Caucasus, existing challenges, the present stage of the NK peace process, and other issues of mutual interest.
At the meeting with Secretary Kerry, the President of Armenia stressed the importance of the US in maintaining security and stability in the region, especially the US involvement in the NK peace process as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. According to President Sargsyan, Secretary Kerry’s participation to the trilateral meeting, which took place on the margins of the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014, is an example of the United States interest in a peaceful resolution of the NK issue.
President Serzh Sargsyan, who is conducting a working visit to the United States at the invitation of President Barack Obama, on April 1 at the Walter Washington Convention Center participated at the Nuclear Security Summit where he made a statement.
In the framework of the Nuclear Security Summit, on April 1 President Serzh Sargsyan met with the US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
The parties noted with satisfaction development of the Armenian-American cooperation in the energy area, which was strengthened by signing in Yerevan on October 18, 2012 of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Governments of the Republic of Armenia and the United States on Cooperation in the Energy Area. The MoU set the directions of cooperation of the two countries in this area, including nuclear and renewable energy.
President Sargsyan underscored that the Government of the United States has made a great contribution to the upgrading of the safety level of the Armenian Nuclear Plant which have been going on since the recommissioning of the ANP. The President stressed also the importance of the Department of Energy’s assistance to the Haiatom scientific and research institute, as well as the implementation of a number of programs by the USAID aimed at the integration of Armenia to the regional energy structure.