LOS ANGELES — Thanking the Diaspora and encouraging closer ties between Armenia and the diaspora formed the core of the message Sunday, September 22, in Grand Park as up to 15,000 supporters gathered to witness the historic first visit of the Republic of Armenia’s Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, to Los Angeles, home to the largest Armenian community outside the homeland.
Pashinyan, who has promised to lead the Republic in a new — and transparent — direction, was met with great fanfare as he addressed the enthusiastic crowd in a symbolic location on the steps of City Hall. Following a cultural performance including patriotic dances and songs, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, flanked by elected local, state and county officials, shared his reflections on the momentous trip and on the strong presence of the 200,000-plus Armenian-Americans in Los Angeles and the adjacent San Fernando Valley.
In his keynote address, Pashinyan expressed his gratitude to the Armenian Diaspora for all its support to help bolster the Republic of Armenia and the role they played in ushering in a more optimistic future for the country.
“You weren’t there physically but all of us were there together in spirit during those days of protests and we felt your strong presence,” he said. “That victory showed that one country and one people that is ready for change can achieve that.”
He reflected on the difficult times in Armenia following its independence 30 years ago when hundreds of thousands left the country to search for economic opportunities outside of their homeland, “not because they wanted to but because they had to work in order to live.”
He acknowledged the significant role the Diaspora played in helping Armenia survive during those days of hardship, helping create “vast improvement” in Armenia. He cited the Tumo centers and smart centers that were established in Armenia through the investments provided by the Diaspora.