By Aram Arkun
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — President of Armenia Serge Sargisian delivered a speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University on March 30. He also met with Armenian students there and with Harvard University Marshal Jackie O’Neill. The audience at the speech contained many Armenians not connected with the university, in addition to Harvard students and faculty.
Sargisian was introduced by the very well connected and influential Dr. Graham Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Allison has served in high positions such as Assistant Secretary of Defense and at present is on the advisory boards of the US Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was a founding member of the Trilateral Commission, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the boards of directors of various international companies and banks, including Getty Oil, Chase Bank and Chemical Bank.
Allison declared that it is an honor for Harvard to have a president of a country to spend time at the university. After he presented a brief biography of the president, the latter began his speech.
Sargisian mentioned the great influence of the Kennedy School both in the US and abroad, the latter due to its international students. He then spoke about the restoration of Armenian statehood 25 years ago after nearly 600 years (though he did not mention the exception of the brief interlude of the first Republic of Armenia). He said that while overcoming the consequences of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia and the war over Karabagh, achieving democracy and free-market economy was of high priority. Armenia’s greatest achievement in this period, he continued, “is the respect for free speech and an active civil society.”