19:36, June 1, 2011

On May 28 Policy Forum Armenia held a reception on the occasion of
the Independence of the First Armenian Republic (1918-20). Held at
the historic University Club of Washington, the reception was well
attended by community members and friends of PFA from in- and outside
of the Washington metropolitan area. The event also served as the first
in a series of introductions of members of the Sardarapat Movement's
Initiating Group, film director Tigran Khzmalyan and informational
technology expert Garegin Chugaszyan - who are visiting Washington at
the invitation of PFA - to the Armenian community and policy circles
in the nation's capital.

In his keynote address, Dr. Rouben Adalian, Director of the Armenian
National Institute, stressed the importance of the battle of Sardarapat
for preserving culture and identity as well as regaining statehood
in those darkest of times for the history of Armenia. As improbable
as it seemed at the time, he noted that the success in Sardarapat
became an important milestone for measuring successes of the future.

Tigran Khzmalyan emphasized the need for continued fight for
independence in the present context, amid worsening governance and
external dependence of Armenia. Stressing that independence should not
taken for granted, he called on Armenians worldwide - irrespective
of party affiliations and geography - to help regain Armenia's true
independence, one that will guarantee dignity, freedom, and prosperity.

Recalling Yeghishe Charents' poems written at the dawn of the
First Republic, Garegin Chugaszyan reminded participants that the
foundations of a strong statehood lie in people's unconventional love
towards country in the most desperate of times. He referred to the
dark winter of the Third Armenian republic, which will undoubtedly
end soon and be followed by the spring of the Forth Republic to come.

In his closing remarks, PFA's co-founder David Grigorian called on the
community members to intensify their search for new ways of engagement
with Armenia by focusing on civil society groups, such as Sardarapat.

He stressed that the existing mechanisms have offered little, if any,
incentives for the successive ruling regimes in Armenia to reform
and do better, emphasizing the need to scrap them in exchange for new
models of engagement that will have allegiances to people of Armenia
(as opposed to their rulers) in their core.