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12/20/2016

YEREVAN—The Knights of Vartan has extended its base of operations in the United States to Yerevan, Armenia!

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Knights of Vartan Ani Lodge Participates in the 21st Anniversary Celebration of Artsakh’s Independence on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. – Last month, members of the Knights of Vartan-Ani Lodge #21 (Knights) joined nearly 100 Armenian-Americans on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).

The annual independence celebration took place on December 5th in the historic Russell Senate Office Building, and was hosted by the Congressional Armenian Caucus, which is co-chaired by Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), the incoming Chairman of the influential Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). Representative Pallone served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

“As we celebrate 21 years of independence and democracy in the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), we want to thank our U.S. Congress for their efforts and remind them of the need to increase financial aid and extend diplomatic recognition to Artsakh in an effort to ensure a lasting peace and stability in the Caucasus,” stated Knights Commander Jake Bournazian.

A highlight of the evening was the ceremony, conducted by the Ambassador of Armenia, His Excellency Tatoul Markarian, bestowing the Republic of Armenia’s “Mkhitar Gosh” award upon Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA).

Rep. Eshoo, who is of Armenian and Assyrian descent, offered emotional words of appreciation following the award presentation. “I’m humbled by this high honor, and I’m grateful to the President of Armenia and the Armenian people for it,” Rep. Eshoo said. “This award is deeply meaningful to me, and it renews my commitment to complete the unfinished work of the United States to finally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.”

Rep. Sherman expressed his gratitude for the award, stressing Nagorno-Karabakh’s progress. “Despite Azerbaijan’s deeply unjust blockade and a devastating war in from 1991 to 1994, Artsakh continues to solidify its democracy and improve its economy,” remarked Rep. Sherman.

In addition to the “Mkhitar Gosh” Award, Nagorno Karabakh Republic Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan offered both Rep. Eshoo and Rep. Sherman a medal in honor of Artsakh’s independence.

Joining Foreign Minister Mirzoyan in discussing the obstacles and opportunities that Karabakh faces were Armenia’s Ambassador Tatoul Markarian and Nagorno-Karabakh Representative in the U.S. Robert Avetisyan. The evening’s benediction was offered by Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, joined by Reverend Father Sarkis Aktavoukian of Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church of Bethesda, MD and Rev. Father Hovsep Karapetyan of St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church of Washington, D.C.

“We appreciate all the Members of Congress who joined us this evening in support of Artsakh’s independence,” Bournazian said. “In these tumultuous times, it is important that we remind Congress of the need to maintain Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and take a stand against Azerbaijan’s military aggression against Christian Armenians,” stated Bournazian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Caption (L-R): Knights of Vartan-Ani Lodge Commander Jake Bournazian, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA).