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California establishes sister state relationship with Armenia’s Syunik

On February 10, 2022, the California State Senate passed ACR 105, a resolution backed by the ANCA-WR, that establishes a sister-state relationship between the State of California and the Province of Syunik. ACR 105 was first introduced by Assemblymember Chris Holden and was passed by the CA Assembly on September 2, 2021.

The resolution is jointly authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and lists Assemblymembers Lisa Calderon, Vince Fong, Laura Friedman, Jesse Gabriel, Christina Garcia, Mike Gipson, Kevin Mullin, Luz M. Rivas, and Senators Bob Archuleta, Andreas Borgeas, Maria Elena Durazo, Robert Hertzberg, and Anthony Portantino as principal co-authors. Additionally, 62 CA legislators have been listed as co-authors.

The resolution declares California’s solidarity with Syunik, the southernmost province in Armenia, and will facilitate mutually beneficial educational, economic, and cultural exchanges. Armenia and the United States are strategic partners, bound by historical kinship and shared values of democracy, freedom, and prosperity, and the passage of this resolution reaffirms this fact.

“Today, we are grateful to Assemblymember Chris Holden for spearheading the effort in the State Assembly and to Senator Anthony Portantino for seeing it through in the State Senate by establishing a Sister State relationship between California and Syunik province of Armenia. At such a critical time when Syunik’s sovereignty is at great risk under the grave threats posed by Azerbaijan and Turkey, this bold move by the State of California is a declaration of solidarity which in turn will strengthen the resolve of the people of Armenia to stand strong against the ongoing threats they face from belligerent and aggressive Azeri and Turkish actors in the region,” remarked Nora Hovsepian, Chair of the ANCA-WR.

“Strengthening the relationship with Syunik comes at a critical time as regional powers like Azerbaijan and Turkey pose a threat to its existence and livelihood. This resolution reaffirms California’s solidarity with Armenia and our 1-million-strong community of California- Armenians,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “There is power in our solidarity and there is even more when we acknowledge the wrongs committed and urge for justice. We set precedent for the future with our action or inaction and today, we are creating long-lasting ties to thread forward a better tomorrow,” he continued. “I am proud that the State Senate Passed ACR 105 this morning to formalize a sister state relationship with the Syunik region of Armenia,” said CA Senator, Anthony Portantino. “It is important that given the aggression on the border from the Turks and Azeris that California speaks out against that unprovoked horrendous violent actions against a peaceful people and shows that we stand in solidarity and our love are with the people of Syunik and the Armenian people both here in California and back in Armenia and Artsakh,” he continued. 

Syunik is one of the original provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia and is currently bordered by Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, and Iran. Syunik is home to the Armenian Stonehenge, Karahunj, that dates back to the bronze age; The Ughtasar Mountain petroglyphs that are 7,000 years old; the 9th Century Tatev Monastery that served as a center of scholastic and spiritual activity. The most populated town in the province is its capital, Kapan with 43,000 residents.

In the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s renewed war against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh Republic, the Azerbaijani military crossed into the Republic of Armenia and moved 3.5 kilometers into Syunik Province, seizing the entirety of Sev Lake. The next day, the Azerbaijani military breached two other sections of the border and occupied more areas of Armenia. Azerbaijan’s illegal presence remains in Syunik, threatening Armenia’s sovereignty and the people who live there.

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.

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