MIAMI, FL – On Thursday, April 13, Florida Armenians hosted Mr. Robert Avetisyan, Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic/Artsakh to the United States, for an economic roundtable discussion on Artsakh. Held in downtown Miami’s Brickell Financial District, Mr. Avetisyan presented the current business climate, economic development, and investment opportunities in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic/Artsakh.
“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with business owners in South Florida,” stated Avetisyan. “Artsakh becomes increasingly attractive for investors, and we hope that our compatriots from Florida will take an active part in Artsakh’s continued success. I want to thank Florida Armenians for arranging this important meeting, and hope for continued cooperation over a range of issues on our common agenda in the future,” Avetisyan said.
The roundtable was attended by several South Florida business leaders, attorneys, and government relations professionals. Mr. Avetisyan briefed them on the economic growth of Artsakh 25 years after its independence from the Soviet Union. Participants expanded their knowledge of Artsakh’s leading industries such as agriculture, banking, construction, and the emerging hydroelectric energy field. Avetisyan also discussed regional trade mechanisms, their liberal free-market economy, and the high level of political stability in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic/Artsakh. Florida Armenians founder Taniel Koushakjian moderated the discussion.
“It was a pleasure to meet with Mr. Avetisyan and discuss Karabakh’s economic environment and future,” stated Florida Armenians Miami Chairman Harout Samra. “Economic growth is vital to Karabakh’s continued security and the government appears to be working to create a pro-investment environment,” he said.
St. Mary Church of Hollywood, FL, marked its 18th anniversary on Sunday, December 11. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese, celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with the Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, parish pastor, assisting.
During the celebratory luncheon following services, Archbishop Aykazian stressed the importance of parishioners’ involvement in the life of the church. More than 100 people took part in the event, which also included musical performances and other speakers. The luncheon was sponsored by Jack and Maria Esmerian and family; it was chaired by Women’s Guild member Carmen Masraff.
By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor
Yesterday, Representative Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) was elected the 54th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) and Florida Armenians congratulate Speaker Ryan on his new leadership role and look forward to working with him in the months and years to come.
“I am very pleased with what this means for Republican leadership in Washington,” stated Florida Armenians Miami Chair Harout Samra. “Paul Ryan’s elevation to Speaker of the House is a welcome event and turns the page on some of the key challenges the Republican caucus in the House has faced over the last several years. At least in the short term, we should expect a more unified and ideas-driven caucus. Florida Armenians congratulate Speaker Ryan and we look forward to working with him and his leadership team to address issues of mutual concern,” Samra said.
Ryan began his political career as a congressional intern after college, went on to work as an aide for then-U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), and later as a speech writer for 1996 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp. In 1998, Ryan was elected to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ryan, known as a policy and budget wonk, has ascended through the House Republican leadership, assuming the Chairmanship of the Budget Committee in 2011, and most recently as the Chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee. Ryan received national attention when he was tapped by Governor Mitt Romney to be the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 2012.
Speaker Ryan has a strong record in support of Armenia, Armenian American issues including genocide affirmation, and the safety and security of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. Paul Ryan represents the 1st district of Wisconsin, which is home to St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church, in Racine.
During his first term in the House, Ryan was a cosponsor of H.Res.398, the Armenian Genocide resolution in the 106th Congress, and cosponsored subsequent Armenian Genocide reaffirmation resolutions, namely: H.Res.316 in the 109th Congress, H.Res.106 in the 110th Congress, H.Res.252 in the 111th Congress, and H.Res.304 in the 112th Congress. In addition to cosponsoring these resolutions, he signed five letters to President George W. Bush urging him to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006.
“By properly recognizing the atrocities committed against the Armenian people as ‘genocide’ in your statement, you will honor the many Americans who helped launch our first international human rights campaign to end the carnage and protect the survivors. The official U.S. response mirrored the overwhelming reaction by the American public to this crime against humanity, and as such, constitutes a proud, irrefutable and groundbreaking chapter in U.S. diplomatic history,” reads the 2004 letter to President Bush signed by Ryan.
Having joined the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues in 2003, Ryan’s support of human rights issues extended beyond Armenia. That same year, Ryan cosponsored H.Res.193 in the 108th Congress, which stated U.S. policy “Reaffirming support of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and anticipating the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987 (the Proxmire Act) on November 4, 2003.”
Speaker Ryan was also a proponent of a stronger U.S.-Armenia relationship and increased bilateral trade and investment. He cosponsored H.Res.528 in the 108th Congress, “To authorize the extension of nondiscriminatory treatment (normal trade relations treatment) to the products of Armenia,” which extended U.S. Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Armenia.
Following the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Ryan cosponsored the Assembly-backed H.Res.102 in the 110th Congress, “Condemning the assassination of human rights advocate and outspoken defender of freedom of the press, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink on January 19, 2007.”
Speaker Ryan also signed a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on February 15, 2008 urging the U.S. “to hold the government of Azerbaijan accountable for recent vitriolic comments made by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in regard to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh,” and to “condemn these comments that go directly against the United State stated policy in the South Caucus region.”
Given his years of work with the Armenian Assembly of America, and decade-long record in support of Armenian American issues, Ryan agreed to serve as the co-master of ceremonies of the Assembly’s 2009 National Advocacy Conference & Banquet in Washington, D.C.
“At a time when Azerbaijan continues to violate international law, and Turkey’s international campaign of genocide denial continues, we look forward to the opportunity to work with the incoming Speaker to address these and other critically important issues,” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.