Reception Marks 20th Anniversary of Armenia’s Membership in the United Nations

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By Hagop Vartivarian

NEW YORK — Pierre Hotel became the meeting place for ambassadors who are members of the great family of the United Nations (UN) organization, diplomats, officials from the UN Secretariat, local correspondents of the mass media and representatives of the Armenian community.

The occasion was the joint reception of the countries, which joined the United Nations together with Armenia 20 years ago, on March 2, 1992. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presided over the festivities and was the main speaker. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, all republics of the former Soviet Union, on the same day received UN memberships and their flags began to fly in front of the UN’s New York center.

On that same day the small country of San Marino also became a member of the organization. The secretary-general spoke with praise of these aforementioned countries, which in a short period were able to adapt themselves to the plans of the United Nations and become a part of this family. So many countries becoming members of the UN on the same day was unusual. Being invited on that day by Ambassador Garen Nazarian, permanent representative of the Republic of Armenia to the UN, to the official reception, in my mind I went back 20 years to March 2, 1992, when the president of the General Assembly of the UN, Ambassador Samir S. Shihabi of Saudi Arabia, opened the meeting. Representatives from the Armenian community were present that morning too. The UN General-Secretary of that time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, placed on the agenda the application of the above-mentioned countries to become members of the organization which had already been ratified by the Security Council. Naturally it was an historic, unprecedented day for these newly independent countries, especially for Armenia and its entire people, because we had paid very dearly as a nation in order to obtain full independence. There were tears in the eyes of our compatriots, the result of spiritual experiences full of patriotism and pride. Armenia was represented by its foreign minister, Raffi Hovannisian. Alexander Arzoumanian, the first ambassador of Armenia to the UN, and Armen Sargsian, Armenia’s ambassador to Great Britain, were present.

And the Primate, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, the patriotic clergyman Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian (who passed away little more than a decade later), and other notable Armenian public figures, including Louise Simone, president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, and Hrair Hovnanian, president of the Armenian Assembly of America, were present from the community. Our state representatives sat at a table where the Republic of Armenia was registered.

The necessity of finding a solution to the Karabagh crisis was mentioned by the representatives of the United States, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Russian Federation and the European Community, in accordance with the UN Charter and the protection of minori- ties and human rights, and that it must be done through peaceful negotiations. In this way, the Karabagh issue became internationalized that day.

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The first foreign minister of Armenia, Raffi Hovannisian, spoke. He first greeted those present in Armenian and then continued to speak in English, declaring that his country wanted a peaceful resolution of the Karabagh issue.

The representatives of the invited countries and approximately 30 compatriots, led by Boutros-Ghali, were invited to the ceremony of the raising of the flags at 1:30 p.m. Thousands of Armenians had gathered outside of the UN. Their applause amazed the foreign dignitaries present as well as the Armenophile Boutros- Ghali. Hovannisian raised the flag. The Armenian delegation was then led to a private hall where the invitees exchanged wishes and congratulations while toasting with cham- pagne. Irma Der Stepanian, Papken Megerian, Vatche Ghazarian, Kevork Marashlian and I were present as members of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party. My late wife, Arpi, who worked many years at the UN and was also a party member, agreed to accept the responsi- bility for the protocol for the Armenian delegation upon the request of Arzoumanian.

The tricolor henceforth began to float in front of the UN headquarters, with Armenia now a part of the international community. This was the just dues of a people with a 3,000-year history and its homeland. To be a witness to this touching ceremony means testifying to the coming generations about what pride my gen- eration experienced that day.

In agreement with the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Armenia, var- ious events and meetings are planned throughout the year to celebrate this anniversary of the membership of Armenia in the UN.

In particular, on April 28, at the initiative of the Tekeyan Cultural Association, a celebratory concert will take place in New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, with the participation of singers from Armenia and the diaspora.

(Translated from the Armenian original.)