The views and values of Armenian Americans from across the eastern United States were represented on Capitol Hill this week in a series of Member meetings and staff briefings by ANCA-ER Executive Director Michelle Hagopian.
Over the past week, Hagopian met with legislative offices from Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and New York, building on the local relationships with Members of Congress from across the Eastern Region. Among the main topics addressed in these meetings was the recently introduced Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution, H.Res.227, an innovative, new truth and justice-based approach to improving Armenian-Turkish relations. Also on the agenda were issues related to the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, stronger U.S.-Armenia ties, and the safety of Armenian communities in Syria and across the Middle East.
“We’re pleased to see growing bipartisan awareness on Capitol Hill that it’s time to try a new U.S. approach to the Armenian Genocide – an authentically American approach – one that rejects Turkey’s gag-rules, openly embraces the historical truth in our own archives, and reflects our values as a nation,” said Hagopian. “H.Res.227 represents a principled and practical effort – based on truth and justice – to improving ties between Armenians and Turks and paving the way to respectful relations between Yerevan and Ankara, and laying the groundwork for a more tolerant and pluralist Turkey.”
Hagopian partnered up with ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian to meet with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), a meeting that included discussion of H.Res.227 and U.S. policy on Nagorno Karabakh, among other issues. Rep. Van Hollen’s district includes Bethesda, home to Soorp Khatch Armenian Apostolic Church. The Congressman attended the church’s food festival in October 2012 and has been a longtime friend to Maryland’s Armenian community.
Later in the week, Hagopian accompanied ANCA Leo Sarkisian intern Taleen Lachinian of Massachusetts to a meeting with Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), whose district covers Lowell, home to one of the oldest Armenian communities in America. The pair discussed the history of Armenian Genocide legislation in the U.S. House, the peace process in Nagorno Karabakh, and the warm ties that Rep. Tsgonas has long had with her Armenian American constituents.
“It was wonderful to meet Rep. Tsongas considering all she’s done to support Armenian issues. This was my first meeting with a Representative on the Hill and it was really an insightful and interesting opportunity. I look forward to holding more meetings like this over the rest of the summer,” said Lachinian.