Community Bids Farewell to UN Ambassador at Diocese Reception

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NEW YORK — On Tuesday, August 4, a farewell reception was held at the Diocesan Center in honor of Armen Martirossian, Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations, who will soon become Armenia’s ambassador to Germany.

Organized by the Eastern Diocese and the Fund for Armenian Relief, the evening was attended by some 100 people, who gathered to thank Martirossian for his six years of service at the UN and to wish him success in his new position.

Opening the evening’s program, Diocesan Vicar the Very Rev. Haigazoun Najarian spoke about Martirossian’s deep faith and close connection to the Armenian Church.

Najarian said that Martirossian will be remembered in New York’s Armenian community, just as the ambassador will cherish the memories of his time here.

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Dr. Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, discussed Armenia’s uncertain situation on the international stage, tracing the problems posed by the closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Given this scenario, he said, it is critical for Armenia to have diplomats who can articulate its needs and represent its interests.

“I’m glad he’s going to be our ambassador to Germany,” he said of Martirossian. “It will be helpful to Armenia.”

Drawing a distinction between short-term aid and long-term investment, Gregorian said that Germany and other European Union states should aim to support such efforts as educating Armenia’s young and developing the country’s computer, banking, medical and other industries.

Gregorian also stressed that the initiative must begin with the Armenian community in Germany, saying that “charity begins at home.”

“I’m amazed at how few Christians support Armenia,” he said, adding that Martirossian will need to harness “talent, investment and cooperation from the European Union and from Germany.”

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), recalled the day in 1992 when the Armenian flag was hoisted alongside the flags of other countries at the United Nations, and how Armenia’s UN Mission first opened its office at the Diocesan Center.

“It was a great privilege, and it will always be a mark of honor, for the Diocesan Center to have played such a role in our country’s history,” the Primate said.

Members of Armenia’s delegation to the UN have likewise been closely involved with the Armenian Church and the larger Armenian community in New York.

“To our own people, Armen has been the kind of ambassador who goes far beyond his formal diplomatic mandate, to be helpful to Armenians in whatever way possible,” the Primate said. “The Armenian-American community has been blessed to enjoy Armen’s attention, his activity, his brotherly advice and goodwill.”

“From his earliest days in America, he has felt at home here at St. Vartan Cathedral, and Armen, Anahit and their family were always in attendance at events here and in churches around our Diocese.

But above all, Archbishop Barsamian said, Ambassador Martirossian “has shown himself to be a master of working within the UN, and with his colleagues, to advance intelligent and just solutions to the issues of the day.

“Time and again, on a variety of concerns — Genocide acknowledgment, the status of Nagorno Karabagh, and others — Ambassador Martirossian’s constant attention, his firm convictions, and his efforts in public and in the background, were the keys to a positive and beneficial result.”

Nagorno Karabagh, in particular, has been a priority for Martirossian and his delegation.

“Karabagh won on the battlefields and we now have to secure our military victory on diplomatic fields as well,” the ambassador said.

He explained that the issue was especially challenging because the UN charter is designed to deal with international conflicts more so than with internal disputes. In guaranteeing both the right to self-determination and the territorial integrity of states, the UN charter makes it difficult to conduct talks surrounding a question that falls under both categories.

Most UN member states no longer support Azerbaijan’s claims to Nagorno-Karabagh, Martirossian said, though he acknowledged that the issue needs continued attention.

“We ourselves are the only guarantor of a decent future for Armenia,” he said.

Martirossian also spoke about the important role played by the Armenian Diaspora, and thanked New York’s Armenian community for acting as “a reliable partner” in his ambassadorship.

“It is believed that in order to preserve the national identity, it is the diaspora that needs Armenia. Although that judgment is correct, it is not comprehensive,” he said. “From my personal experience, I claim that it was the diaspora that enriched and strengthened my Armenian identity.”

“I give my thanks to you and to the people of Armenia, for the times I have succeeded,” he said, adding with characteristic humility, “and my apologies for the times I have fallen short.”

Martirossian will begin serving as Armenia’s ambassador to Germany starting next week.