Representatives Pallone and Speier Hold Community Forum in Oakland
Oakland, CA—More than 160 members of the Armenian community in the Bay Area gathered at St. Vartan’s Armenian Church to discuss Armenian American issues with Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) on March 30, 2010. The Forum was co-hosted by the Paros Foundation and St. Vartan’s Armenian Church, in cooperation with the Armenian Assembly of America’s Northern California Regional Council.
The evening proved to be both informative and interesting. During brief opening statements, Pallone and Speier presented their thoughts on a number of relevant issues including the Armenian Genocide Resolution, Aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, the prospects of a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno Karabakh issue, in addition to healthcare and financial reform legislation. Following brief opening statements, the audience was encouraged to submit questions of interest to both Members of Congress. The discussion was co-moderated by Dr. Julie Kulhanjian and David Ojakian, who did an excellent job of pairing together and presenting the many questions on behalf of the audience.
In response to a question regarding the Turkey – Armenia Protocols, Congressman Pallone, who has served as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues since its founding, indicated that although the ratification of the Protocols seem stalled, law makers and the administration in Washington applauds Armenia’s openness to take this controversial step with no pre-conditions.
Answering a question on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, that had recently passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congresswoman Speier pointed to the fact that a policy of denial hurts the development of Turkish society as a whole.
“We took the initiative to organize this evening’s event with Pallone and Speier because we feel strongly that our community must remain engaged with the U.S. Armenia relationship and our friends in Washington.” Said Peter Abajian, Executive Director of The Paros Foundation, “Tonight was a really special evening in that we brought together two champions of our cause and a strong cross-section of the Bay Area Armenian community. We express our appreciation to all the organizations that co-hosted and cooperated for the success of this event.”
Frank Pallone represents New Jersey’s Sixth Congressional District and was just sworn in to his 11th term in office. Pallone serves as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to energy, environment, health care, commerce and telecommunications. He also chairs the Committee’s powerful Subcommittee on Health.
Representative Jackie Speier represents California’s 12th Congressional District, encompassing the southwest quarter of San Francisco and most of adjacent San Mateo County. She was first elected in April of 2008 after eighteen years in the California Legislature. She serves on the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Representative Speier is a staunch advocate in Congress for issues important to the Armenian American community.
Launched officially in 2006, The Paros Foundation works with six organizations in Armenia which involve the arts, children and people with disabilities. These organizations are recognized as leaders in their respective fields. Foundation support comes in the form of organizational operating funds, office space and operational resources and mentoring. The mission is help these modest size projects manage their growth and attract more financial, human, and physical resources to their respective causes. The Foundation has built a staff of travelling and in-country resources that other individuals or organizations are encouraged to utilize to implement their project and support their efforts to improve the quality of life and culture in Armenia.