By Alin K. Gregorian
WATERTOWN — President Serge Sargisian and his entourage arrived in Boston on Monday, March 28, for the Armenian leader’s inaugural visit to Massachusetts.
As part of his first day’s activities, the president, accompanied by Diaspora Minister Hranoush Hakobyan, as well as his chief of staff, Vigen Sargisian, and a large entourage including the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Armenia’s Ambassador to the US Grigor Hovhannisian and Minister of Education Levon Mkrtchyan, visited the offices of the Tekeyan Cultural Association and the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, sponsored by the parent organization, the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party.
About 50 people awaited the arrival of the Armenian president. Young children, Raffi Arkun and Patil Mardiros, dressed in Armenian costumes, greeted President Sargisian as he was entering the building, with the traditional bread and salt.
Another half a dozen youth surrounded the president and his entourage on their way into the building.
The president arrived to applause from those assembled, including several members of the Knights of Vartan, members of the ADL from the United States and Canada, and their families, as well as several other activists.
Representing the ADL were Ara Balian of Montreal, Dr. Nubar Berberian of Waltham, Mass., Dr. Arshavir Gundjian from Montreal, Kevork Marashlian of Washington, D.C., Vartan Nazerian of Los Angeles, Apet Torosian of Cambridge, Mass. And Hagop Vartivarian from New Jersey,
After the president and his entourage were seated, Gundjian kicked off the welcome, toasting the president and telling him about the ADL and its partisans in the US and Canada, as well as about the history of the party’s press in the US and Canada.
Marashlian then spoke about the Mirror-Spectator as well as the cultural activities of Tekeyan. He also presented Donald Tellalian, the architect of the Armenian Heritage Park, including its abstract sculpture, which President Sargisian was scheduled to visit the following day.
Vartivarian spoke about the heritage of the ADL in the US and its continued efforts in planting the seeds of the Armenian spirit among the youth, throughout its history. He said the ADL was the pioneer in the US in efforts for creating structures that would allow the perpetuation of Armenian identity and culture aboard, as well as to pursue the just cause of the Armenians.
Sargisian thanked those assembled and expressed his respect for all the traditional Armenian political parties and their efforts. He also stressed that Armenia needs the diaspora and the diaspora, as well, needs Armenia.
Finally, Sargisian, rising, accepted a gift presented to him by TCA Executive Director Aram Arkun and Armenian Mirror-Spectator Editor Alin Gregorian, a theological book published in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1864. In return, he gave a recording released by the Komitas Museum in Armenia, as well as engraved medals.
Toasts were made with traditional Armenian Dvin brandy, prompting the president to joke that “it was just like Armenia.”
That same night, he made visits to several other local Armenian institutions, including St. Stephen’s Armenian Church in Watertown, Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston, in Cambridge, as well as the Armenian Museum of America and the Hairenik Building, both in Watertown.
During his visit, the president is visiting several local offices and parties, including the State House, where he is due to meet with Gov. Charlie Baker, and the Armenian Heritage Park, as well as a talk and meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
Aram Arkun said, “I am very grateful for the support provided by Apet Torosian in facilitating the reception at the Baikar building.”
(Further coverage of the president’s various stops will be in next week’s paper. All photos by Jirair Hovsepian.)