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Armenian Advocacy Groups: Contact White House, Congress

By Taniel Shant
FLArmenians Political Contributor

Armenian American advocacy groups, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) and the Armenian National Committee (ANC), are currently urging the Armenian American community to voice their concerns to the federal government.

Last month, both groups issued ‘Action Alerts’ on issues of concern to the over 1 million strong Armenian American community. Here in Florida, there are approximately 30,000 Armenian Americans.

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With the inauguration of the President Donald J. Trump and the start of the 115th Congress, the groups called on their respective members to take action to boost the Armenian Caucus membership, express opinions regarding the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, as well as contacting the Trump Administration to advance Armenian American policy priorities for 2017.

Prior to the calls for action, both the Assembly and ANC sent congratulatory messages to President Trump on his election (see the Assembly letter here and the ANC letter here).

The Assembly, an independent, non-partisan, Washington, D.C.-based organization, urged members to send messages to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding nominees Sessions and Tillerson. Tillerson was confirmed by the Senate last week and Sessions is expected to be approved this week.

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The Assembly is currently seeking to boost the bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, which currently stands at 87 Members of Congress, a historic low. “The 115th Congress is at work, and we are turning to you to urge your Representative to join the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues,” read the Assembly statement. “We need to expand the Armenian Caucus to counter growing opposition, and hostility in the region. Our goal is to increase the number of Members who will speak up for the rights of the people of Armenia and Artsakh. Please urge your Representative to join the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues,” read the Assembly alert.

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The ANC, the U.S. arm of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, a Yerevan-based Armenian political party, issued calls to its membership to outline key policy priorities to the Trump White House. “Ask President Trump to support Armenia,” reads the ANC alert. The ANC outlined three key policy areas: “Properly commemorating the Armenian Genocide as a clear case of genocide challenging Turkey’s obstruction of justice for this still unpunished crime and more broadly rejecting Turkey’s efforts to control U.S. policy on Armenian issues; Advancing a durable and democratic peace in the Caucasus by recognizing and supporting the independent Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and; Growing the U.S.-Armenia economic military and political partnership and supporting a secure prosperous and democratic Armenia.”

You can take action on the Assembly and ANC alerts here and here.

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Armenian Assembly of America Now Accepting Applications for Summer Internship Programs in Washington, Yerevan

You Can Be a Part of the Assembly’s 40th Summer Internship Class

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Applications for the Armenian Assembly of America’s (Assembly) summer internship programs are available, and the deadline for this upcoming summer is fast approaching. The 2017 Terjenian-Thomas Summer Internship Program applications in Washington, D.C. are due on December 1, 2016 and candidates for the Yerevan Internship Program in Armenia will be accepted through January 10, 2017.

This upcoming summer will mark the 40th anniversary year of the Assembly’s internship program for Armenian youth in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1977, the Armenian Assembly Summer Internship Program was the first internship program offered by an Armenian organization in America. Over 1,000 students of Armenian descent have graduated through the Assembly ranks.

Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Class of 2016 Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Interns,Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Armenian National Institute Director Dr. Rouben Adalian

Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Class of 2016 Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Interns,Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Armenian National Institute Director Dr. Rouben Adalian

The Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program gives college students of Armenian descent an opportunity to gain exposure to the policy-making process in our nation’s capital for eight weeks each summer. Students accepted to the Washington program are assisted in securing internships in congressional offices, government agencies, media outlets, think-tanks, and non-governmental organizations based on their educational background and interests. Placements have included the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, the Senate, the House, Congressional Committees, Armenian Embassy, Library of Congress, Voice of America, and other media, federal agencies, and think tanks.

In addition, Assembly interns will have the opportunity to discuss Armenian American issues during meetings with Members of Congress, Senators, and other government officials, industry professionals, and noted academics through the Capitol Ideas and Lecture Series programs. These programs provide interns a forum to ask questions and discuss topics important to the Armenian-American community, including current events taking place throughout the world and U.S. foreign policy towards Armenia and Karabakh.

The Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program is made possible by the Memorial Fund established through the generosity of Aram Terjenian, Annie Thomas and Florence Terjenian of Belmont, Massachusetts. Additional support comes from the Richard Tufenkian Memorial Fund, the John Hanessian Scholarship Fund, the Armen Astarjian Scholarship Fund, the Ohanian Memorial Fund, the Estate of Haig J. Boyadjian, the Estate of George Judge Karabedian (George Kay), Mr. & Mrs. James and Connie Melikian, and the Knights of Vartan.

Armenian Assembly of America Regional Director Arpi Vartanian and Class of 2016 Assembly Yerevan Summer Interns with Nagorno Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan

Armenian Assembly of America Regional Director Arpi Vartanian and Class of 2016 Assembly Yerevan Summer Interns with Nagorno Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan

The Assembly also offers a similar internship program in Yerevan, Armenia. Now entering its 17th year, the Yerevan Internship Program provides students the opportunity to live and work in one of the most historically and culturally rich countries in the world. Students can work in Armenian government agencies, non-governmental organizations, medical centers, or media outlets. Participants will meet with Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh government officials, including Assembly partner organizations of Armenia Tree Project and HALO Trust, and tour historical sites around the country. Recent placements include the United Nations, Constitutional Court, Civilitas Foundation, International Center for Human Development, and other non-governmental organizations, as well as various government ministries.

For more information on the Assembly internship programs or assistance with the application process, please contact Internship Program Director Joseph Piatt in Washington, D.C. at (202) 393-3434, ext. 336, or via email at jpiatt@aaainc.org. You can find stories, posts, and testimonials from last year’s internship class on the Assembly’s Intern Blogs (Washington, D.C. or Yerevan, Armenia). You can also check out their photo albums (Washington, D.C. or Yerevan, Armenia) on the Assembly’s Internship Alumni Facebook Page.

Armenian Assembly of America Congratulates President-Elect Donald J. Trump

Armenian Assembly of AmericaArmenian Caucus Members are Successful

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a long, close, and hard fought presidential race, Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, early Wednesday morning, surpassed the requisite number of Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). In addition to the White House, Republicans retained their majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate although by smaller margins.

“We congratulate president-elect Trump and his running mate Mike Pence, and we commend American Armenians who participated in the election process throughout the country,” stated Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian.

“In his victory speech, president-elect Trump’s call for national unity was gracious and is welcome. During the campaign, president-elect Trump recognized Turkey’s ties to ISIS, as well as its increasingly authoritarian regime. In addition to Turkey, President Trump will also need to address Azerbaijan’s sharp deterioration and its links with ISIS. Both countries pose a threat to stability in the region,” Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian added.

“In view of the insecurity in the region, it is vitally important that Christians and minority communities at risk be protected and we urge the new Administration and new Congress to take steps to safeguard these vulnerable communities,” the Co-Chairs continued.

Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues

In the House of Representatives, the Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues had a strong showing with the overwhelming majority of those seeking re-election winning, including Co-Chairs Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Vice Co-Chairs Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Dave Trott (R-MI). Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Dold (R-IL) facing a re-match with Democrat Brad Schneider did not win, nor did his Senate colleague Mark Kirk (R-IL). Meanwhile, Armenian Caucus Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) handily won his election to the United States Senate having defeated Turkish Caucus Congresswoman Donna Edwards in the Maryland primary. In addition, Caucus Member Janice Hahn (D-CA) won her bid for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

“We congratulate the Members of the Armenian Caucus on their victories. We are proud to have two Members of Armenian descent in the House of Representatives, namely Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier. Armenian American Danny Tarkanian, however, did not prevail in Nevada,” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We also appreciate the strong support of our friends who will not be returning to Congress and wish them every success.”

In addition to a strong showing on the House side, pro-Armenia candidates also won in the Senate. Apart from Van Hollen, Armenian Genocide resolution cosponsors Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and long-time supporter of Armenian issues Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were all re-elected.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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