WASHINGTON — As part of its annual tradition, members of the Armenian community came together this past weekend at the Armenian Embassy for the Armenian Assembly’s annual holiday reception and briefing. This year’s reception featured a special guest, Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. The descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors, Sarukhan has served as Mexico’s envoy to the United States since 2007.
In opening remarks, event chair Annie Totah thanked Assembly Chairman Hirair Hovnanian for his vision and leadership in securing and donating the historic building that houses the Armenian Embassy. Totah also thanked the members of the local community for their continued support and generosity to the Assembly. She provided an overview of the Armenian Assembly’s pioneering work throughout the decades, since its founding in 1972.
Totah also introduced Tatoul Markarian, Armenia’s ambassador to the United States, who welcomed the standing-room-only crowd and highlighted the critically important work of the Armenian Assembly. Totah then introduced Sarukhan, who provided a strategic overview of the US-Mexico relationship and drew interesting parallels between the Mexican and Armenian Diasporas in America and the important role they play in the United States. Sarukhan concluded by expressing his commitment to continue to build ties among our respective communities.
Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny also addressed the audience. He conveyed the concerns shared by all with respect to Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide and attempts to link progress on Nagorno Karabagh to progress between Armenia-Turkey rapprochement. Ardouny reiterated the Assembly’s position that “US affirmation of the Armenian Genocide should not be held hostage to the establishment of normal relations.”
Foreshadowing the meeting between President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ardouny stated that it “represents an important opportunity for the United States to hold Turkey accountable to its public commitments, as well as help Turkey come to terms with its genocidal past.” Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, Ardouny urged those present to redouble their commitment as the Assembly continues its “work in Congress to maximize our efforts for the betterment of the people of Armenia and Artsakh.”
Guests also enjoyed a musical interlude by Carlos Bonilla and Naira Babayan-Bonilla, whose piano performance concluded with Aram Khatchaturian’s Sabre Dance.