Florida Congressmen Gus Bilirakis, Ted Deutch Sign Armenian Caucus Letter to White House
WASHINGTON, DC – The Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues leadership spearheaded a letter signed by 48 Members of Congress sent to President Donald Trump urging him to meet with newly-appointed Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, during the annual United Nations General Assembly held in New York in September. Two members of Florida’s Congressional delegation, Armenian Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), signed the letter to President Trump.
The letter states: “The peaceful transition of power after the revolution is a clear indication of the will of the Armenian people, strongly demonstrating their commitment to a fairer and more democratic state. As Armenia seeks to bolster government transparency, strengthen democratic institutions, and empower civil society, it is critical for the United States to deepen its ties with this regional partner at every level of government.”
“I commend the people of Armenia for exercising their political rights and bringing about change in peaceful, democratic way,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) told FLARMENIANS. “The Velvet Revolution can serve as a model for the non-violent transfer of power. I am hopeful that the new government will serve the interests of the people and continue to bring democracy, transparency, and prosperity to Armenia,” Deutch said.
In addition to Armenian Caucus leaders Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Dave Trott (R-MI), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and David Valadao (R-CA), the letter was signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA).
The letter to President Trump also requests “a series of high-level conversations between [the President’s] Cabinet Secretaries and their counterparts in Armenia – many of whom have recently been appointed as members of the newly formed government.”
In that regard, the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, DC has been very active telling the story of the Armenian people’s embrace of democracy to U.S. policy makers. Last month, Armenia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan traveled to Washington, DC and met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell; Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Dave Trott (R-MI), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and David Valadao (R-CA); House Democracy Partnership President Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Vice President Rep. David Price (D-NC); and Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL). He also spoke before an audience of academics, diplomats, and government officials at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
While Armenia’s Velvet Revolution can be felt by Armenian men and women, old and young, in every corner of the Diaspora, it is especially inspiring for Armenian Americans who wish to see U.S.-Armenia bilateral relationship reach the next level.
By Taniel Koushakjian
Florida Armenians Managing Editor
On Thursday, October 8, former Florida Armenians Jacksonville reporter Janna Mosinyan and managing editor Taniel Koushakjian attended a reception at the Embassy of Armenia in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 24th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Over 100 people gathered at the embassy, including government officials from the U.S., Russia, Georgia, Poland, and Kazakhstan.
The reception began with the singing of the Armenian and American national anthems. Armenian Embassy attaché Makar Melikyan welcomed guests in attendance and introduced Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States Tigran Sargsyan. Ambassador Sargsyan gave remarks and recognized special guests in attendance, such as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department John Heffern, Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Ambassador James Warlick, and famous Armenian singer Nune Yesayan.
Ambassador Sargsyan explained why the 24th anniversary of Armenia’s independence is one of the most important dates in Armenia’s recent history. “The Armenian nation survived, the Armenian nation became even stronger and more united. And now, one hundred years later, I stand here in front of you all as the Ambassador of an independent Armenia to the United States and congratulate you on the occasion of the 24th Anniversary of Armenian Statehood,” Sargsyan said.
Ambassador Sargsyan went on to emphasize the continuous assistance and friendship of the United States. Following his remarks, he introduced DAS Heffern who spoke about his tenure as the United States ambassador to Armenia (2011-2014) and congratulated the Republic of Armenia on its 24th year of independence.
“It was wonderful seeing so many Armenians together, celebrating our independence day,” stated Mosinyan. “I felt proud and honored to be present during this event,” she said.
Following Heffern’s remarks, Ambassador Sargsyan presented medals of honor to two distinguished guests, Mr. Jirair Nishanian and Dr. Levon Avdoyan, on behalf of the President of Armenia. Mr. Nishanian received the Medal of Gratitude, awarded for state, economic, social, scientific-technical, and public activities, as well as for major personal contribution, many years’ devotion, and fruitful activities aimed at promoting the spheres of health, education, and culture. Dr. Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress, received the Medal of Movses Khorenatsi for outstanding achievements in the spheres of culture, art, literature, education, social sciences, and sports.
“I want to conclude with expressing my confidence that our cause is just and through joint and coordinated efforts we – the citizens of Armenia and our brothers and sisters from Artsakh and from the Diaspora – will succeed in overcoming all the difficulties and challenges and will further strengthen our Motherland,” Ambassador Sargsyan said.