The Report of the Community of the Western United States To the Armenia-Diaspora Conference Yerevan, September 23, 1999 Delivered by Asbed Bedrossian, in Armenian. Honorable Presidents, Prime Ministers, Reverend Clergy and dear delegates, As with all Armenians, The community of the Western U.S. also greets this conference as an effort unique in kind, which endeavors to bring together all the social and political organizations, various trends, and layers of intelligentsia operating in the sphere of Armenian activities. It is our expectation that by bringing forth a variety of thoughts and approaches, it will be possible to underline the common interests we are bound together with, to reinforce these commonalities, and where possible, to find new possibilities and increase momentum towards solutions for pan-Armenian issues. To be realistic, we must accept that a single conference cannot solve all pan-Armenian problems, but we believe deeply that this conference is only the beginning of this positive process. In this, not only do we have great faith, but we are also armed with equivalent determination. In the past ten years, The Armenian community of the Western U.S. proved on multiple occasions that the pursuit of the inalienable rights of Armenians is a top priority. In this sphere, we supported Artsakh's just cause with fundraisers, and public and political advocacy at the state and national level. Through multiple public fundraisers, telethons, by inviting political figures from Artsakh and Armenia and putting them directly in touch with the community, through the Internet, newspaper publications and other media, we have succeeded in raising the level of political consciousness of our community and making the struggle for Artsakh part of its daily concern. It is up to us to support Artsakh's right to self-determination, and to continue our aid to the government of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Dear colleagues, the issue of double-citizenship is a matter of high urgency for the Armenian community of the Western U.S also. We propose to improve the constitution of the Republic of Armenia in a manner empowering the cultivation of a clear law on double-citizenship, through which each Diasporan-Armenian has the possibility of becoming a proud citizen of the Republic of Armenia, subject to all the supposed dispositions of such a law. An Armenian living in the Diaspora, armed with Armenian citizenship, with the ability to receive this citizenship, will feel his Armenian identity and belonging emphasized. His bond with the homeland will gain new meaning and weight, and will transcend the boundaries of mere moral value. A positive solution to this issue will also have the beneficial effect of strengthening the Armenian economy. During the past decades Armenia enjoyed a strong industrial and export infrastructure. Today, we expect that our homeland will create circumstances conducive for the return of the trained manpower that has emigrated, in order to help flourish an economy and industry built upon the already existing scientific-technical base. The Diaspora can help in this process, and within this framework, the community of the Western U.S. also. It is necessary to study all existing possibilities, and also all paths towards the strengthening of the economies of Armenia and Artsakh. In this regard, the community of the Western U.S. expresses its full support for the projects and efforts of the "Hayastan" all-Armenian fund. Also, through the United Armenian Fund, our community continues to offer humanitarian aid of a unique nature. The foundation of all these processes, however, is the law and lawfulness. The sooner Armenia is indentified as a country where the Rule of Law is supreme, the sooner international confidence will grow in its structures. In this regard, it is our expectation that everyone should be equal in front of the law, and that nobody should be considered above the law. Unlawful behavior and criminality must be uprooted from Armenia. The law must be considered above all personal preferences. When we conquer this stage, problems and hurdles which today appear without solution will disappear automatically. In the political arena, the recognition of The Genocide has so far been left up to the Diaspora alone. Today, new realities dictate new methods of operation to us. As American-Armenians we have, during the past years, seriously advanced and continue to advance the work towards the official recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the authorities of the United States. We believe that, once the Armenian Genocide becomes one of the strategic cornerstones of Armenia's foreign policy, a solution for this problem with international significance will be greatly facilitated, and our efforts will receive fresh impetus. Neither do we feel ambivalent about the issue of Artsakh, which is one of the links in the Armenian Cause. Nagorno Karabakh is an inseparable part of the cradle of the Armenian homeland. Artificial borders drawn by foreign dictators have de-facto been reversed today. This correction, however, must also be legitimized by international law. Our brothers and sisters living in Artsakh expressed their will in a public referendum eight years ago, and it is up to us to stand in support of their choice unreservedly and with all our resources, so that nobody thinks about passing judgement against the right to self-determination of the Armenian Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. The Armenian Cause is a complex and multilevel political issue, to which end, the imperative to reconcile and complement the political paths of Armenia and the Diaspora is now on the Armenian political agenda. The work to advance the Armenian Cause has different nature in each country and requires different tactics. Faced with this reality, Armenia and the Diaspora find themselves faced with the necessity to complement each other's work. Today, the Armenian political system must be capable of distributing duties between Yerevan and the different Diasporan communities. For example, in the case of American Armenians, the cooperation of representatives of the Armenian Republic and the Armenian lobby to achieve levers with influential American political circles. Honorable colleagues, Armenians from the Western U.S. once again greet this conference, as a preliminary step towards the creation of a natural forum for pan-Armenian agendae. It rests upon us all to create favorable atmosphere and grounds for the benefit of positive solutions to the problems which lie ahead of us. Towards this, we remain motivated and accountable. Thank you, Los Angeles, September 1999
Translated to English by Asbed Bedrossian.