By Hagop Vartivarian
NEW YORK — US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills Jr., appointed to his post last year, held a meeting on March 1 with representatives of the Armenian community of New York, as his predecessors have done in the past. The meeting took place at the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium of St. Vartan Cathedral of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) and was presided over by Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian. The Armenian organizations with representatives present included the Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, the Armenian Assembly and the Knights of Vartan.
Dr. Tavit Najarian introduced the ambassador, presenting a brief biography and a summary of his work in Armenia over the last year.
The ambassador chiefly spoke about the US mission in Armenia, stressing the necessity of the implementation of democratic principles and transparency of actions in state circles. He also spoke of the need to keep good relations with neighboring countries for the sake of regional stability. He stressed the importance of the execution of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols which were as much the initiative of then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as of the latter’s Russian colleague, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
He spoke about the high level of corruption which still exists in Armenia, and the pollution which will in the end have a negative effect on the wellbeing and economic growth and progress of the Armenian people.
The ambassador spoke also about the positive contributions that his government is attempting to make in Armenia, such as the improvement of water distribution, the preservation of cultural values in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, and the introduction of the Armenian youth to Western values and standards. Miller stressed the importance of commercial relations between the Armenian communities of the US and Armenia. Allowing new businesses opportunities will give new strength to Armenia’s economy, he noted.
Finally, Mills asserted that his embassy is attempting to inform the Armenian people about American foreign policy, in order to invite the population to see American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) policies in a positive light. He praised Yerevan’s government for attempting to preserve a balanced political approach internationally — perhaps the only one of the former Soviet republics to do so.
He expressed his sympathy for the sufferings of the Armenian people during the Genocide, without using the word. He said that he paid his respects at Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan. He appeared quite familiar with Armenian national issues and inspired confidence in those present that he was sympathetic to Armenian woes and dreams. In particular, he stressed the importance of dialogue for a final resolution to the Karabagh conflict, and the necessity of the implementation of the protocols.
The opportunity was given to those present to ask questions, which he answered in an objective manner, generally following the principles he spoke about during his presentation. He also showed slides about the activities of his embassy over the last year, beginning with his first visit to Echmiadzin, where he met Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. His interactions with President Serge Sargisian, the Armenian prime minister and the commander of the Armenian army all were indications that he enjoys good relations with the Armenian leadership.
(Translated from the Armenian.)