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FLArmenians Participate in ANCA-ER 6th Annual Banquet

Mahwah, NJ – Earlier this month, Florida Armenians (FLArmenians) Editor Taniel Koushakjian joined over 300 Armenian-Americans for the Armenian National Committee Eastern Region’s (ANCA-ER) 6th annual banquet. Mrs. Nora Kzirian, a former FLArmenian, served as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies, as the community honored Armenian studies luminary Dr. Richard Hovannisian, and Artsakh rights champion her ladyship Baroness Caroline Cox.

Dr. Hovannisian and Taniel Koushakjian

Dr. Hovannisian and Taniel Koushakjian

National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Director of Academic Affairs Dr. Marc Mamigonian gave a moving introduction about Professor Richard Hovannisian, this year’s ANCA Vahan Cardashian Award recipient.

Dr. Hovannisian, a professor of Armenian and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), is a pioneer of Armenian studies in the United States. He has authored many books and edited and contributed to at least a dozen other works. In 1987, he was appointed the first holder of the Armenian Educational Foundation Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History at UCLA.

“I’m deeply honored and thankful to the ANCA for considering me worthy of receiving this award. Vahan Cardashian remains a champion and a symbol for the Armenian people. I feel very satisfied after my long career, and I feel rewarded that I’ve had more than a half century of wonderful experiences in the classroom teaching generations regarding Armenian history and identity,” Hovannisian said.

Ms. Virginia Davies, who sponsored FLArmenians’ participation, introduced Baroness Caroline Cox before presenting her with the ANCA Freedom Award.

Baroness Caroline Cox and Taniel Koushakjian

Baroness Caroline Cox and Taniel Koushakjian

“Speaking in the British parliament is a place to give voice to the voiceless, to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. … I would like to say thank you to the Armenian people, who in that holy land of Artsakh have formed that front line of faith and freedom for the rest of the world. We who live in freedom, we who call ourselves Christian, owe you a debt of gratitude for holding that front line for us. With all my heart, I thank you,” the Baroness said.

Baroness Cox has visited Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh 78 times to date, many of them during the war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, and is planning on at least two more visits in 2013. Working with the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), she helped establish the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in Stepanakert in 1998, which has become a leader in providing care and rehabilitation for those with physical or mental disabilities.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; Very Rev. Fr. Thomas Garabedian of the Armenian Catholic Exarchate of America; His Excellency Ambassador Garen Nazarian, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations; Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Co-Chair of the Armenian Caucus; Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, Mr. Levon Filian; Armenia Fund USA Chairman, Mr. Khoren Bandazian; and many prominent community benefactors.

US House of Representatives Defeats Turkey Biased Legislation

Majority of Florida Delegation Opposed Turkey-Skewed Measure

By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the US House of Representatives voted down legislation, on a bipartisan basis, that singled out Turkey for preferential treatment to engage in economic development projects on specific Indian tribal lands in the United States. H.R. 2362, the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project Act, was brought to the floor for a vote under the suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. The measure was defeated 222-160, falling short of the 255 votes needed.

Speaking in support of H. R. 2362 were Representatives Doc Hastings (R-WA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), James Moran (D-VA), Dan Boren (D-OK) along with Delegate Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS), while Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) led the charge against the legislation. On the day of the vote, Congressman Bilirakis, joined by his fellow Hellenic and Armenian Caucus colleagues, issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members, urging their opposition to H.R. 2362.

In a statement released by the Armenian Assembly of America, bill sponsor Cole noted in his remarks that the Turkish Coalition of America approached him about the bill. “According to campaign contribution records, Representative Cole has received $6,000 in Turkish PAC money this cycle while Representative Foxx received $10,000,” read the Assembly’s statement.

A majority of Representatives from the Florida delegation opposed giving preferential treatment to the Republic of Turkey.  Florida representatives voting in opposition to H.R. 2362 include Reps. Sandy Adams (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Bolart (R-FL), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Rich Nugent (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), and Allen West (R-FL). Voting in favor of the legislation were Florida Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), John Mica (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL). Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL), who is anticipated to win the Republican nomination in the Florida Senate race, was not present at yesterday’s vote.

According to the Armenian National Committee, “the measure was opposed by a broad spectrum of Hellenic and Armenian American organizations, including the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA), American Hellenic Institute (AHI), American Hellenic Council (AHC), the ANCA and the Armenian Assembly of America, all of which alerted House members about the negative repercussions of passing the controversial pro-Turkey measure.”

You can watch the debate on H.R. 2362 here.

*Updated July 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM