Anna Hakobyan, wife of Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, recently joined some 600 dignitaries and community members recently to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles.
Hakobyan shared some of her experiences and improvements in the country after last spring’s so-called “velvet revolution,” when her husband rose to lead the country as its prime minister.
“[California] provides you all with a safe haven with limitless opportunities to live in and create. This consulate general has become a small but solid bridge, linking the homeland with our thriving diasporan community,” she said, referring to the dispersion of people from their original homeland.
In its 25 years of operation, the consulate has enforced deeper relations between California and Armenia, becoming the core foundation of economic, cultural and diplomatic exchange between the two, according to consulate officials.
Furthermore, Hakobyan said she had high hopes that in the coming months and years, the consulate will serve as a useful tool to deepen connections between what she calls “one of [Armenia’s] most important diplomatic missions” and the country itself.
Hakobyan said she appreciated the work of Armen Baibourtian, Armenia’s consul general in Los Angeles, for his truthful spirit and dedication to his title. Having witnessed the formation of the consulate in 1994 as the first appointed consul general of Armenia in Los Angeles, Baibourtian said he recognized the community’s tremendous backing in recent months, as it became known that he was returning to the post, some 21 years later.
“When there is such a wonderful reaction from the Armenian community as well as the American public, difficulties take a secondary role,” the consul said. “[The consulate] has taken on a crucial mission — bridging California with Armenia.”
Both Hakobyan and Baibourtian continued to praise the Armenian community of Los Angeles for showing their unconditional support “before, during and after the days of the revolution” during which not a shot was fired.
“This support was crucial, as it confirmed our belief that we were not alone in our struggle for the future of our children and for the creation of a new Armenia,” Hakobyan said. “It brought me joy to discover that the scope of the consulate general’s activities has greatly expanded since the recent changes [in the country].”
Baibourtian confirmed that since the revolution, interest among residents to return to Armenia for permanent residency has increased, claiming that within the last year, the number of Armenian American applicants petitioning for citizenship in Armenia has doubled.
“I am happy to say that the revolution is already bearing fruit,” Hakobyan added. “During this visit, I’ve had … encounters with individuals with stories of either visiting Armenia for the first time or moving to live in Armenia.”
As the evening progressed, Hakobyan talked about the projects and initiatives that she has been actively promoting. As chairperson of the “City of Smiles” charitable foundation, the prime minister’s wife said she is on a mission to raise funds to provide cancer medication and supplies to children in Armenia.
“[Hakobyan’s] political conduct, speech, activity, programs and ways of achieving them are much welcomed by the community,” said Gohar Veziryan, editor-in-chief of newsbook.am. “Anna is brave, bold and naturally sentimental.”
Hakobyan’s positive character went to higher extents, as she began to talk about her initiative to a healthy resolution to the Nagorno Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Her “Women for Peace” initiative encourages women of power to hold conversations about the conflict in hopes of reaching a common ground. She said she thinks that a peaceful approach should be implemented between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to “stop killing soldiers on [both] borders.”
As it neared to the end of Hakobyan’s visit, she called upon all community members to “take their step” by becoming actively involved in the developing stages of the “New Armenia.”
“We in Armenia are filled with joy and pride every time we are reminded of how conscious you are of the needs of the homeland,” she said. “I implore you to continue to love and dote over this small patch of your native soil.”
Sahakyan is a Glendale Community College student and a contributor to Times Community News.