AGBU Brings Together Leading Community Diasporans in London


LONDON — Leading professional Armenians from across the UK gathered in London at the invitation of the AGBU Central Board to connect community key business leaders with promising young talent from across generations. The event was held on February 01, in the historic Royal Automobile Club, one of the city’s oldest private members’ clubs.

More than 150 guests were in attendance, including Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; Arayik Harutyunyan, Prime Minister of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic; Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of the United Kingdom; Armen Sarkissian, Armenian Ambassador to the UK and members of the AGBU Central Board, among many others.

Master of ceremonies Camilio Azzouz-Kiwanian welcomed guests, gave a short introduction of the various AGBU programs available to the young generation and delivered a testimony of the impact such programs have had in his personal and professional life. The audience also enjoyed a short film highlighting the far-reaching and diverse work of the organization across the world. London based AGBU Central Board Member Joseph Oughourlian welcomed guests and spoke of the tremendous influence AGBU has played in his engagement in Armenian issues and the various projects he and his fellow board members have led around the world as part of the organization’s mission.

In his address, AGBU President Berge Setrakian discussed the role the local community plays within the Armenian diaspora worldwide, as well as the rich history of the Armenians in London, stating, “some communities, no matter how small, play a pivotal role in our national interests. London is one of those cities and we must never lose sight of that.” He encouraged guests to give back locally, help advance Armenian issues globally and strengthen the Armenian republic. Setrakian stated the importance of developing relationships across generations and connecting entrepreneurs and key business leaders. He also emphasized that shared social and cultural values are engaged through ongoing dialogue.

Setrakian pointed to notable diasporan philanthropists attending the event who are making a difference in the social and economic development of Armenia, upholding their commitment to strengthening the state. He acknowledged guests Ruben and Veronika Vardanian and AGBU Central Board member Noubar Afeyan. They are part of a group of diasporans supporting various projects in Armenia including the forthcoming Dilijan International School of Armenia, a state-of-the-art coeducational boarding institution that is set to open its doors in September 2014. He also acknowledged Oughourlian for his various initiatives promoting economic development in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic including the development of hydraulic energy plants.

Setrakian then introduced Vatche Manoukian, the evening’s honored guest, for his philanthropy and model humanitarian work. The Ambassador of Armenia to the United Kingdom, Armen Sarkissian, addressed the guests and echoed the words of Setrakian, speaking fondly of Vatche and Tamar Manoukian.

The Manoukians’ numerous philanthropic undertakings include the support of various religious, cultural and educational projects in Armenia and the diaspora, including the AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena, Calif., which was highlighted during the evening with a special video presentation.

Manoukian thanked the audience and AGBU for the special honor and tribute, and spoke of the integral role philanthropic giving has played in his life. He appealed to the new generation of successful Armenians not to forget their heritage. He stated that his belief and commitment to his people and nation have always been an integral part of his achievements.

Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, closed the evening by thanking the Manoukians for their invaluable work and contributions. He praised AGBU for the special role it has played in the lives of Armenians around the globe for over a century, and for attracting a new generation of Armenian youth through its dynamic programs that instill a sense of pride and identity in their Armenian heritage.

Throughout the event, leaders and young professionals from across various industries — architecture, finance, international affairs, law and journalism — had the opportunity to meet and forge new relationships.

Joseph and Jennifer Oughourlian were the sponsors of the evening.