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ANCA's Address at the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, 1999

    Armenian National Committee of America
    Presentation to the Armenia Diaspora Conference,
    Yerevan, Armenia - September 23, 1999
    Aram Hamparian, Executive Director

    I am honored to be here today representing the Armenian National
    Committee of America as - together - we take these first collective
    steps toward the realization of our shared national aspirations.

    We bring to this effort a proud history of service to the Armenian
    Cause and the equally sincere hope that our work here will lead to
    increased cooperation and the realization of our tremendous
    collective potential.

    As we consider the question of how to expand our Diasporan political
    advocacy, I would like to offer two fundamental ideas - drawn from
    our own experience - which will place this growth on a solid

    First of all, our advocacy must be guided by a set of enduring
    values.  For the ANCA, this has been the cause of Armenian liberty;
    justice for the Armenian people and nation.

    Faithful, always, in the pursuit of these noble goals to the
    Dashnaktsutiun's tradition of service and sacrifice;

    Reaching out, always, to all who share our goals.  And we have seen
    the result of this cooperation - with the Armenian Assembly and the
    full range of Armenian American organizations gathered here today.

    This has been true since our earliest communities in the United
    States.  From our work with Vahan Cardashian and the American
    Committee for the Independence of Armenia, through the Soviet era,
    the Karabagh liberation movement, and the first years of our reborn

    We remain today, as then, guided by these high ideals.  But also -
    and this brings me to the second fundamental idea we bring to this
    conference - we remain deeply rooted in our communities.

    Beyond our office in Washington, in Boston or Los Angeles, we reach
    deep into the fabric of our communities, through more than fifty
    local chapters and thousands of activists, through our strong links
    here in Yerevan, in Moscow, Paris, the Middle East, South America,
    and throughout the world.

    And everywhere, we are fully integrated into our communities
    through the Dashnaktsutiun, the Armenian Youth Federation, the
    Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen, Hamazkayn, the Church, our
    friends, supporters, and allies -

    From our smallest community in the farthest corner of America; to
    New York, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco and the other pillars of
    our community; to the swelling Armenian society in Southern

    From the descendants of those who fled Abdul Hamid a century ago
    to the children and grandchildren of Genocide survivors; from those
    escaping unrest in the Middle East to those recently arrived on
    American shores.

    In each generation, from every location, are thousands of unknown
    patriots for whom no banquets are thrown nor buildings named.  They
    receive no honors and, very often, no appreciation; but they are
    the ones we turn to - time and time again - and who always come
    through for our nation.

    These individuals - our grassroots - in America and around the
    world - are our greatest Diasporan resource.  Through the Armenian
    National Committee, they are bound together by a tradition of
    service, by shared values, and a common vision of our future.

    It has been this tradition, these values and shared aspirations,
    that have helped us to know the way through difficult times, even
    as others strayed - on democracy, on Nagorno Karabagh, and even the
    Armenian Genocide.

    Today, the challenges have changed but the Cause remains the same:
    Justice for the Genocide, a strong Armenia, and a free Karabagh; a
    secure, prosperous and democratic future for all our people.

    We are very aggressively pursuing justice for the Genocide, not
    only by seeking official U.S. commemoration or the adoption of a
    Congressional resolution - but in the states and cities, in
    universities and libraries - in California, where we helped ensure
    that every student will study, and be tested on their knowledge of
    the Armenian Genocide; or in Michigan, where we helped block the
    Turkish government's efforts to manipulate Genocide scholarship; or
    in countless other battles.  We are fighting Turkey's denials at
    every turn and working for justice and our rights as a nation.

    We cannot - and will never - accept that Turkey remains an
    unrepentant perpetrator of Genocide on Armenia's border.  We must
    bring all the resources of our Diasporan advocacy together into a
    powerful process to seek justice for the victims, their children,
    and our future generations.

    On foreign aid issues, we have all seen the results:

    More than a billion dollars in aid to Armenia, increasingly now
    promoting long-term self-sufficiency;

    Aid directly to Nagorno Karabagh - clearly and properly recognizing
    its identity outside of Azerbaijan's control.

    We have defended Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act,
    restricting aid to the government of Azerbaijan, most recently this
    June 30th when we overcame attacks from the oil industry, the
    Administration, and very nearly every other powerful interest in

    In terms of aid to Turkey, with the help of our friends in the
    Greek community and human rights organizations, we have nearly
    eliminated all economic and military support, and have turned now
    to blocking arms sales and transfers which threaten Armenia and
    destablize the region.

    On Nagorno Karabagh, we have fought to ensure that U.S. policy
    remains balanced, respecting Nagorno Karabagh's inalienable right
    to self-determination within secure borders.

    On all these issues, we have worked with the White House and
    Congress, the Democrats and Republicans, the think tanks, media,
    and other ethnic groups.

    And always, we have involved our community - our grassroots - by
    educating them on the issues and motivating them to play an active
    role in the political process.  We do this through our
    congressional report cards, our candidate questionnaires, election
    guides, and voter education materials.  We serve our community by
    empowering its members.

    It is exactly this empowerment that is the key to our vision of the
    future: Armenian advocacy - grounded in our community and inspired
    by our highest aspirations.

    Service and sacrifice in the best tradition of our long history.

    Informed by the enduring values of our fathers.

    Built upon the growing sophistication of each generation.

    And driven by a new confidence, a new faith, and a new vision of
    our future.

    It is in this hope that we support the work of this gathering.

    The hope that our words today will translate into understanding and
    that this understanding will lead to the consensus and cooperation
    we will need to realize an Armenian homeland - free and at peace,
    independent and secure, united and confidently facing the future.

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