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Armenian American Advocacy Update in South Florida

St. David Armenian Church (1)

Arsine Kaloustian Named Acting-Managing Editor of Florida Armenians

BOCA RATON, FL – Florida Armenians is pleased to announce the promotion of Arsine Kaloustian to Acting-Managing Editor of Florida Armenians, effective immediately. Kaloustian has served as Florida Armenians Public Affairs Director since the very beginning and has been instrumental in the media outlets’ launch and success over the years.

Arsine Kaloustian

“Florida Armenians started as an idea – the idea that an Armenian community should be tied together, move as one, and be united, regardless of politics or affiliations,” Kaloustian said. “Florida Armenians built upon that foundation, and as a result we have extended our reach to every Armenian community in the state. Today, we have more followers on Facebook than any other Armenian organization in Florida, and that is something we are so very proud of because it means we are actively achieving our goal of bridging our community in a meaningful way. I am honored to be stepping into this role, and am excited to discover what the future holds for Armenians in Florida,” she said.

Kaloustian has been active in various Armenian American organizations for almost a decade. She previously served as the Chairperson of the Return to Asbury Armenian Kef in 2014 and 2015, and currently serves as the Chairperson of South Florida’s Armenian Genocide Commemoration (AGC, Inc.) and Florida Chairperson of the Armenian Assembly of America.

Kaloustian will take over for out-going Editor Taniel Koushakjian, who launched Florida Armenians in 2011 to meet the needs of a growing non-partisan Armenian American readership. Florida Armenians is the only independent Armenian news media outlet in America, and serves the 30,000 and growing Armenian American community members in Florida, now the third largest state in the Union.

“Arsine’s role in the launch and growth of Florida Armenians has been invaluable and she has elevated our publication to the top of the class in terms of accurate reporting and effective dissemination of Armenian American news,” Koushakjian said. “No doubt, Kaloustian will continue to raise our own editorial standing with our growing list of contributors and readers across the country and I’m confident that she will do a great job in this new capacity,” he said.

Florida Armenians Meets With Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Washington

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Taniel Koushakjian, Serzh Sargsyan, Bryan Ardouny

Last week, Florida Armenians Managing Editor Taniel Koushakjian sat down with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan during his trip to Washington, D.C. Sargsyan travelled to the U.S. to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City where he delivered an impassioned speech about the need for international condemnation of Azerbaijan military attacks against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh that has recently claimed several lives, including three Armenian female civilians, in the last few weeks.

From New York, President Sargsyan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, Presidential Chief of Staff Vigen Sargsyan, and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan, travelled to Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings with Armenian American community leaders. Koushakjian shared with Sargsyan activities of the Armenian community in Florida marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Koushakjian explained that Florida is one of 43 states that has acknowledged the 1915 Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey, which was last proclaimed by former Governor Jeb Bush in 2006. Although Florida recognizes the Armenian Genocide, it does not have an official curriculum mandated by the state to teach the Armenian Genocide. Sargsyan inquired if the presidential candidate was aware of his strong record on the Armenian Genocide, which Koushakjian assured him was the case.

In that regard, Koushakjian talked about efforts by Florida Armenians and the Armenian Assembly of America to advance Armenian Genocide education in the Sunshine State despite lack of a state mandate. For instance, in April of this year Koushakjian presented an Armenian Genocide exhibit entitled “Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide” at the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida (HMSWFL). In the lead up to the presentation, the Turkish Consulate in Miami wrote a threatening letter to the HMSWL objecting to the presentation and demanding it be canceled. Koushakjian explained to Sargsyan that Armenian Genocide denial exists around almost every street corner in America and that grassroots efforts promoting genocide education are vital to ensuring a future free of mass atrocities.

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Taniel Koushakjian meets Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan

In addition, Koushakjian thanked Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian for his efforts to confront and assist with the Syrian refugee crisis. To date, Armenia has absorbed close to 20,000 refugees, the majority of which are the most vulnerable communities: Armenians, Assyrians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities. In addition to Armenian government efforts, Nalbandian has raised the cause of the Syrian peoples’ plight to the international community on several occasions this year alone. Koushakjian informed Nalbandian that Florida Armenians would do everything they can to inform the American public that Armenia is the last Christian safe haven in the Middle East.

In the afternoon, the Florida Armenians attended a luncheon on Capitol Hill hosted by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) and the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues in honor of President Sargsyan. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) gave remarks and introduced President Sargsyan. “For years, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has been a leading voice promoting awareness of the Holocaust and other genocides throughout history, and the Foundation has called upon all of us to have the courage to stand against such despicable brutality in the future,” stated Chairman Royce. “As the leader of a people who survived the first genocide of the twentieth century, President Sargsyan is well aware of the need for that courage. We must continue to speak the truth about the Armenian Genocide and learn its bitter lessons in order to help others who are targeted,” Royce said.

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Taniel Koushakjian and Serzh Sargsyan on Capitol Hill

The luncheon featured remarks by special guest Robert M. Morgenthau, grandson of U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, who received an award from IRWF Chairman Eduardo Eurnekian and co-founder Baruch Tanembaum for his efforts advancing Armenian Genocide recognition.

On Thursday, October 1, President Sargsyan concluded his visit to Washington with a presentation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.