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ARMENIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE of AMERICA Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian Washington, DC 20006 Tel: 202-775-1918 Fax: 202-775-5648 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.anca.org/ Presentation to the 2002 Armenia Diaspora Conference YEREVAN, ARMENIA May 27, 2002 I am honored to join with you - in this great city - with the sons and daughters of the Armenian nation, gathered together here from across the globe. We meet here in Yerevan - on the free soil of our independent homeland - as the collective leadership of our people - Hairenik and Diaspora - to share ideas and perspectives, to learn from one another, and - most importantly - to chart a common course for our nation's future. In this effort - at this conference, and in our work beyond these walls - we are bound by a shared responsibility - a responsibility both sobering and inspiring - to lead the Armenian nation through the complex and difficult challenges of our time, to bear the heavy burdens of our generation, and to leave a better future for those who will write the next chapter in our long history. In each generation - for more than three thousand years - we have found the strength to deal with these challenges. We have seen a critical mass of Armenians step forward with foresight, courage, and the willingness to make the sacrifices required to ensure our nation's survival. Today, at the turn of the new millennium, this destiny rests in our hands. Our nation asks of us: "Will we build a secure, prosperous and democratic future, or leave an embattled, isolated, and divided legacy." By our collective actions or our inactions, we will make this choice. Speaking today on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America, I know that we have - all of us - made the right choice, by being here, by choosing to work together, by bringing to bear the tremendous international resources that we can collectively mobilize to tackle the task of strengthening our nation. We bring to a devotion to the cause of liberty, of justice for the Armenian people. We bring an unmatched history of service, a proud legacy of sacrifice, and a proven track record of meaningful and concrete results. We bring a vision of Armenia - beyond the Republic, beyond Artsakh, beyond our Diaspora. The vision of an Armenian nation, rooted in this soil, but reaching throughout the world - a far-reaching network of identity and influence. We bring an organization deeply based upon our grassroots foundation that has for decades stood alone in advocating for the Armenian Cause in the international arena. We bring, with humility, because we are a grassroots organization, not a voice for the Armenians but the voice of the Armenians. A distinction that cannot be overstated, in light of recent and ongoing efforts to manipulate our people - including most recently through the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission. We bring all of these to this task of building our nation and pledge to you our good faith and cooperation in our collective efforts to strengthen our homeland, provide for the growth of our communities, secure justice for our people, and ensure that we, as Armenians, continue to make our unique contribution to the family of nations. You are all familiar with the issues that we advance in Washington, DC and throughout the United States. We are making significant progress in our efforts in the United States with the President, the Congress, state governments, and the media to break the back of the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide. When we have accomplished this goal, we will move to the next phase of the Armenian Cause - ensuring that this crime against our people has been punished and our nation has, to the extent possible, been made whole. Justice, in all of its forms - repentance, restitution, reparations, and return of our lands - is the only guarantee that Turkey will not, in the words of the late Turkish President, Turgut Ozal, seek once again to teach the Armenians "the lessons of 1915." Simply put, Armenia cannot be secure as long as it remains bordered by an over-armed and unrepentant perpetrator of genocide against the Armenian nation. We are defending Nagorno Karabagh's right to self-determination within secure borders, while countering the efforts of the Caspian oil interests to tilt U.S. policy in favor Azerbaijan. We are strengthening Armenia through the promotion of increased trade and investment, a strong and vibrant economy free of corruption, foreign assistance to Armenia, continued direct aid to Nagorno Karabagh, and bilateral agreements designed to increase U.S.-Armenia commercial activity. We are fighting against the illegal and immoral Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as against their efforts to isolate Armenia from the benefits of the Caspian energy sector. On each of these issues, we face powerful and well-funded opposition. Arrayed against us are some of the most influential groups in the American political system. Under this intense pressure, there will always be the temptation to give up, to walk away from the battle or, worse, to break under the pressure and compromise our ideals, to trade apparent short-term benefits for our long-term well being and survival. These are false choices, whether they deal with the Armenian Genocide, Nagorno Karabagh, or any of the other vital issues facing our nation. As we consider here how we will advance our nation into this new age - how we will deal with the intense pressures of a rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape, we must remember, always, that strength, character, and backbone are as necessary today as they were in the days of Avarayr, the deserts of Der Zor, the fields of Sardarabad, or the cliffs of Shushi. In our history books, in the stories of our grandparents, and even in our own lifetimes, we have seen tremendous changes in the challenges we face as a nation. What has remained constant is the price of Armenia's survival - the service and sacrifice of individual Armenians to a cause greater than themselves. We must - in the coming months and years- remain true to this principle and keep faith with the enduring values of our nation. We must remain confident in the strength of our grassroots, the sophistication of our new generation of leaders, the ultimate morality of our positions, and the devotion of the Armenian people to the cause of our nation. We must get directly and personally involved, in whatever country we live, with the political and public processes necessary to advance the Armenian Cause. We must passionately, energetically, and intelligently advocate for our beliefs and our people. We must - together here today and long after we have left this hall - work to proudly carry the burden of our generation so that we may realize - for ourselves and for generations to come - the promise of a free, independent and united Armenia. Thank you. Kenneth V. Hachikian Chairman