Australia’s former envoy to US Joe Hockey, nine others join Friends of Artsakh Network

Australia’s former Federal Treasurer and former Ambassador to the United States of America, Joe Hockey and nine high-profile compatriots have joined the distinguished membership of the Australian Friends of Artsakh, helping mark the one-year anniversary of the network supporting the rights to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh.

The Australian Friends of Artsakh was launched on 1st August 2019 by the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) with an announcement dubbed #MOVINGMOUNTAINS during the visit by a delegation from the Republic of Artsakh, led by Foreign Minister Masis Mayilian and Davit Ishkhanyan MP.

The network now totals 57 signatories thanks to the additions of Hockey – who is of Armenian heritage, New South Wales state parliamentarians Natalie Ward MLC and Tanya Davies MP, Willoughby Councillor Wendy Norton, Northern Beaches Councillors Vincent De Luca and David Walton, and Fairfield City Councillors Paul Azzo and Adrian Wong.

Dr. Deborah Mayersen, who is a Lecturer in International and Political Studies at the UNSW Canberra – Australian Defence Force Academy, has joined the growing list of academics in the network.

Jon Dee, who is a media personality as host of Money Talks on Sky News Business, has also joined the Australian Friends of Artsakh, being intimately familiar with the trials and tribulations of Armenians having founded and produced Rock Aid Armenia – a charity concert featuring some of the world’s top rock stars including Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath – following the 1988 earthquake.

“These friends of the Armenian-Australian community are welcome additions to the Australian Friends of Artsakh,” said ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian.

“Azerbaijan’s petro-dictatorship, which has continued to attack both Artsakh’s and Armenia’s borders in recent weeks denying the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh their basic human right to self-determination and independence on their ancestral lands, have remained unable to bully our leaders from joining in solidarity with this issue,” added Kayserian.

Among the initial signatories pledging support for the rights to self-determination of the Armenians of the Republic of Artsakh were Federal Ministers and Parliamentarians, a State Premier and fellow state parliamentarians, a Mayor and local councillors, academics, thought leaders, as well as heads of several religious and community institutions.

The signatories of the Australian Friends of Artsakh feature a strong Federal parliamentary contingent, including Australia’s Communications Minister the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, Assistant Treasurer the Hon. Michael Sukkar MP, Shadow Home Affairs Minister the Hon. Senator Kristina Keneally and Shadow Agriculture & Resources Minister the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP.

Fitzgibbon is the co-convenor of the Armenia-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Union along with the Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Health, Aged Care & Sport Trent Zimmerman MP, who also joined the Australian Friends of Artsakh, along with fellow Chairs of Federal parliamentary committees including John Alexander MP, Senator Eric Abetz, Julian Leeser MP, Jason Falinski MP and Tim Wilson MP, who is the only current Member of Australia’s Federal Parliament with Armenian heritage. Newly elected Federal Parliamentarian Josh Burns MP is also a Friend of Artsakh, as is former Leader of The Australian Greens, Senator Richard Di Natale.

Natalie Ward and Tanya Davies join the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP – the Premier of Australia’s largest state of New South Wales – on the list of State parliamentarians among the Australian Friends of Artsakh, which also includes Minister for Customer Service the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, President of the Legislative Council the Hon. John Ajaka MLC, Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly the Hon. Jonathan O’Dea MP and his fellow convenor of the NSW Armenia-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Shadow Treasurer the Hon. Walt Secord MLC.

Dr. Hugh McDermott MP and Rev. Fred Nile MLC are also among the NSW parliamentarians in the group, along with their former colleagues, including Marie Ficarra and Amanda Fazio.

Wendy Norton, Vincent De Luca, David Walton, Paul Azzo and Adrian Wong join fellow Local Government representatives who were among the inaugural signatories to the Australian Friends of Artsakh, including Mayor Jerome Laxale, Councillors Sarkis Yedelian, Jordan Lane and Trenton Brown – from the City of Ryde, and Councillors Hugh Eriksson, Brendan Zhu, Angelo Rozos, Stuart Coppock and Lynne Saville – from the City of Willoughby.

Deborah Mayersen and Jon Dee join a number of academics, civil society and thought leaders also signed on to support Artsakh, including Professor Peter Stanley, Dr. Sev Ozdowski, Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis, Dr. Brian Owler and Chris Crewther.

A series of leaders of communities and churches, including Glenn Davies – the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney – are also part of the Australian Friends of Artsakh as signatories.

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