Armenian Community Welcomes New Armenian Ambassador to the UN

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By Taleen Babayan and Florence Avakian

CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. — With the beautiful Manhattan skyline serving as the backdrop, the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) hosted a welcoming reception for Ambassador Garen Nazarian, the new ambassador of Armenia to the United Nations at the Palisadeum Banquet Hall in on Friday, January 22.

The evening also served as a commemoration for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia.

Present for this special recognition was Armenia’s Defense Attache in Washington, DC Lt. Col. Mesrop Nazarian, and his wife Rusanna Nazarian.
Cultural segments were infused into the program throughout the evening, consisting of singing by Ani Djirdjirian, Jenny Sarian and Diana Sarian, as well as poetry readings by Nora Armani and Jirayr Papazian. The Akhtamar Dance Ensemble of St. Thomas performed their signature “flag dance” adorned in red, blue and orange costumes while proudly waving the Armenian flag.

Antoine and Rose Bazarbashian, Papken and Anahid Megerian, and Sarkis and Maral Jebejian
Edmond Azadian with Ambassador Garen and Nana Nazarian and Hagop Vartivarian

“We believe in the Armenian language and the Armenian culture,” said Master of Ceremonies Hagop Vartivarian. “We try our best to maintain and preserve it.”

Welcoming guests to the dinner reception, Vartan Ilanjian, a member of TCA NY/NJ chapter, said that during the first days of independence of Armenia in 1991, the TCA established itself there and that many Armenians joined the TCA there. “The TCA continues to strengthen the Armenian cultural framework,” he said.

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Guests present at the head table were Karabagh Representative in Washington Robert Avedisian, Tekeyan Cultural Association Central Committee Vice Chairman Edmond Azadian, and benefactor Andreas Roubian with Priya Katragadda.

From left, Krikor Salbashian, Nana and Ambassador Garen Nazarian, Hagop Vartivarian and Betty Salbashian
From left, Sam Azadian, Antoine Bazarbashian, Vicar General of the Armenian Diocese Very Rev. Haigazoun Najarian, Papken Megerian, Very Rev. Oshagan Gulgulian and Rev. Haroutiun Tachejian

Other special guests included Dr. Edgar and Marian Housepian, AGBU Central Board Vice Chairman Nazar and Ardemis Nazarian, Edward and Carmen Gulbenkian, Vahram and Lucienne Aynilian, Vice Chairman of Diocesan Council Dr. Raffi and Vicki Hovanessian, TCA Central Board Director Papken and Anahid Megerian, Armenian Assembly Trustee Van and Priscilla Krikorian, TCA Central Board Director Antoine and Rose Bazarbashian, AGBU Central Board member Sarkis and Maral Jebejian, and Knights of Vartan Commander Dr. Jaques Gulekjian.

“The Tekeyan Cultural Association is a truly cultural organization. More than any other group, it preserves the Armenian language. This event is for all of us,” noted Hagop Vartivarian with obvious pride. “Armenia has 15 provinces in historic Armenia, of which four have been liberated. The Armenian army during the coming decades will liberate all of them,” he declared with emphasis to lengthy applause.

The guest speaker was Andreas Roubian, president of FDS International, a software development company, who has dedicated himself to causes relating to the betterment Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh. Roubian spoke about the Karabagh Committee formed in the late 1980s, which provided humanitarian aid to Karabagh. He noted the attendance of other committee members at the event that evening, including Hirant Gulian, Paul Shahinian and Sam Azadian.

From left, Andreas Roubian, Priva Katragadda, Nana Nazarian, Ambassador Garen Nazarian, Vicar General Very Rev. Haigazoun Najarian, Lt. Col. Mesrob Nazarian, Rusanna Nazarian, Robert Avedisian and Edmond Y. Azadian
Armenian Military attaché Lieutenant Colonel Mesrob Nazarian is interviewed by the Armenian Public TV H1.

“The Armenian army went hand in hand with the liberation movement in Artsakh,” said Roubian. “The lesson we learned is that we should all stay united: Armenia, Artsakh and the diaspora.”

Roubian, in his remarks, recalled that many Diasporans opposed him for starting the group at the time. However, the liberation of Kelbajar, a historic Armenian region sandwiched between Armenia and Karabagh changed their opposition. “This victory was a phenomenon, because the Karabagh army was a group of irregulars,” Roubian said. “As it was transformed into a regular army, it proved that if Armenia, Karabagh and the diaspora are united, we will win. We will always stay united,” Roubian declared to thunderous applause.

A professional video demonstrating the military might of Armenia was shown, emphasizing its enviable position of being the strongest army in the Caucasus, ready to defend the homeland at all costs.

From left, Harout Diratsouian, Nana and Garen Nazarian, Hagop Vartivarian and Olympia and Shahe Jebejian
From left, Dr. Raffi Hovanesian, Nana and Garen Nazarian, Hagop Vartivarian, Araxi Varjabedian and Vicky Hovanesian
Edmond Azadian, center, congratulates the ambassador and TCA Chairman Hagop Vartivarian

Garen Nazarian, a seasoned diplomat who has served with distinction in Russia, Geneva, and for the last six years as Armenia’s Ambassador in Iran, was presented with a crystal memento by TCA Central Committee Vice Chairman Edmond Y. Azadian who praised him as a “consummate diplomat.”

“Our people have fought many enemies throughout our long history to preserve our freedom,” stated the Vicar General. “In Karabagh, all Armenians from every station in life through their strong spirit and faith, brought our struggle to successful conclusion. When we celebrate our military might, it gives us confidence for our future. Wars are not only fought militarily, but on every level, including diplomatically. Now at the United Nations, we are fortunate to have Ambassador Garen Nazarian carrying on this important struggle, and we wish him every success.”

In his remarks, Nazarian praised the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, which was formed 18 years ago.

“The Armenian fighters presented shining examples of valor and lessons of patriotism for the coming generation,” said Ambassador Nazarian. “Today the Armenian Army is rightfully viewed as a victorious and liberating army. Our whole nation trusts and believes in our Army. … Let us congratulate all those brothers ad sisters in the Armenian-American community who have made their valuable contributions to the establishment and strengthening of the Armenian victorious Army and we pay our profound tribute to all those who participated in the army-building mission.”

Silva Der Stepanian, right, with Garen and Nana Nazarian and Hagop Vartivarian
From left, Priva Katragadda, Nana and Garen Nazarian, Hagop Vartivarian and Andreas Roubian

Nazarian thanked the TCA for the initiative of celebrating, for the first time, the Armenian Armed Forces Day.

“May God protect our army, glory to the Armenian soldiers, to the Armenian homeland, and long live the Armenian Diaspora,” he said.

Concluding the program, Very Rev. Haigazoun Najarian, vicar general of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), who himself went to Karabagh as early as 1973, said it is a proud moment to have the unique opportunity to celebrate Armenia’s Armed Forces Day for the “military leaders who fought and struggled and had the strength and faith to build our right.”

“We need to protect our borders. We can’t be beggars or cry-babies,” said Najarian. “We need to join our voices.”

Dr. Svetlana Amirkhanian made a symbolic toast to all mothers whose sons are fighting in Armenia’s army, as well as for those who have been killed defending the Armenian homeland.

The event was represented by leaders of other Armenian organizations including the Armenian Assembly, the ADL, the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the Armenian Church, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Knights of Vartan.

Throughout the evening, the rich Armenian culture was evidenced by several performers,

Azadian also paid tribute to Vartivarian. “Hagop is one of the movers and shakers of the US Armenian community.”

Many left the event feeling energized. “I wanted to drop a note and congratulate you on a most successful celebration of honoring our Armenian Army and welcoming our ambassador to the US.  You were a great host and a great emcee.  The program was also handled properly and the Tenafly Akhtamar dance group was a great hit.  You know how much we love Andreas and he was just great talking from his heart.  Varstket Gadar.  Thank you for including us in this celebration,” wrote Shoghag and Raffy Hovhannesian to Vartivarian.

Said Edgar Housepian, “My wife and I so much enjoyed being at the Tekeyan affair honoring Garen Nazarian. We met so many good friends and the occasion to honor the Armenian Armed Forces was outstanding. Thank you for inviting us.”

The members of the New York/New Jersey branch of the Tekeyan Cultural Association who planned and organized this event include Chairman Hagop Vartivarian, Vice Chairman Harout Chatmajian, Secretary Betty Salbashian, Treasurer Sirvart Demirjian, Advisors Dr. Svetlana Amirkhanian, Shemavon Atamian, Shoghig Chalian, Lucyn Djerdjerian, Vartan Ilanjian, Meline Khekoyan and Krikor Markarian.

From left, Nazar Nazarian, Nana and Garen Nazarian, Hagop Vartivarian, and Artemis Nazarian