Washington, D.C. - On July 22, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) hosted a virtual Speaker Series featuring current U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy and former Ambassadors John Ordway who served in Armenia from 2001 to 2004, and John Heffern who served from 2011 to 2014. Opened by Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian, who just returned from Armenia, and moderated by Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian, the forum focused on U.S.-Armenia relations and served as an opportunity for the diplomats to share insights during their tenure and today's current political and economic climate. In the past, Ambassadors would visit different diaspora communities in the United States which helped improve the community's ability to contribute and the effectiveness of U.S. programs in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. This virtual meeting carried on the same positive tradition.
With a wide range of experiences by the panelists, examples of the strong partnership between the U.S. and Armenia since the Republic's independence were reviewed and provided perspective on current as well as anticipated, near-term and future U.S. assistance. Throughout the last three decades, the U.S. invested nearly $3 billion in Armenia, in part due to the significant advocacy efforts of the diaspora. The important reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide by President Biden last April, both as a correct reflection of the past and as a current issue, along with its impact on U.S. foreign policy, was covered. Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh's records and progress on democracy were also noted.
Armenia faces a number of challenges, from the pandemic to the aftermath of last Fall's war launched by Azerbaijan, with the full and open support of Turkey, the impact of Russia and other regional events, but the consensus was clear that the U.S. will continue to deepen U.S.-Armenia coordination, especially as a OSCE Co-Chair to find a sustainable and comprehensive settlement that establishes the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, the U.S. continues its COVID-19 emergency assistance and humanitarian aid for the forcibly displaced population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Another critical area of focus is the justice and anti-corruption sphere, as the U.S. remains dedicated to Armenia's economic growth, including its tourism, agribusiness, and tech sectors, as well as exchange programs between the U.S. and Armenia.
International security cooperation, which includes spheres such as demining, policing, border issues, peacekeeping and general training and development of the Armenian military, was also addressed, as was the continued engagement of diaspora Armenians. While the U.S. has affirmed the Armenian Genocide, it hasn't eliminated issues of security in the region, particularly those impacting the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has a right to live in a safe and secure environment.
During the question and answer session, U.S. commitment to and high-level engagement in OSCE Minsk Group mediation efforts were reiterated in order to ensure a permanent resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Despite the tragic year faced by Armenians, Armenia's continued democratic path was highlighted and commended with a positive assessment of the country's future. The benefit of historical and current, on-the-ground views also lent itself to both short-term and long-term considerations in upholding shared values and guiding principles between Americans and Armenians.
"We appreciate the candor and insights provided and ways in which the U.S.-Armenia relationship can continue to expand and strengthen," said Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian. "We want to thank the participants as it was very good to see and hear them together."
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 non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.