Dear Friend of Armenia, as we face a (modest) cold-snap here in much of America on this blessed Christmas Day, I know that many of our thoughts turn to our brothers and sisters in our homeland. Facing another cold Caucasus winter – families living in villages, children studying in schools, and soldiers guarding the frontiers of Armenian freedom – are all targeted simply because they’re Armenians living on Armenian land. They’re threatened by Azerbaijani aggression, blockaded by Turkey, and attacked by powerful lobbies, like the oil industry and arms sellers.
A Merry Armenian Christmas message from the ANCA
Add crushing poverty and official corruption, and you can see why many Armenians can feel so hopeless. Sadly, it’s why so many are leaving their Hairenik, our ancient homeland.
As we mark the birth of Jesus Christ and embark upon a new year, I ask you, humbly but happily, to recommit yourself to Armenia, Artsakh and all Armenians; to reaffirm your devotion to act, on your own and in concert with others, for our community and our cause.
Thankfully, we are blessed with so many wonderful groups, including our Churches, ARS, AGBU, AMAA, COAF, Repat Armenia, Homenetmen, Hamakayin, AYF, Armenian Eyecare Project, Armenia Tree Project, and the Sose & Allen’s Legacy Foundation – to name just a few. All are doing worthwhile work, and deserve our support for their transformative efforts, in our homeland and diaspora, in the fields of education, healthcare, youth training, the environment, economic development, and social services.
For our part, you know that the ANCA’s smart advocacy in Washington represents the best way – in the political field, for us to leverage U.S. policy and power – helping to make Armenia safer, checking Azerbaijan’s aggression, defending Nagorno Karabakh, countering Turkey’s blockade and genocide denial, and securing vital U.S. funding for efforts by Armenian citizens to build a more democratic, just and sustainable society.
Over the past 12 months you’ve worked for a homeland full of hope and growth and opportunity for families in Yerevan, Stepanakert, Gyumri, Kapan, Goris, Vanadzor, Abovian – all across Armenia and Artsakh, and into Javakhk. A strong Armenia that will sustain her citizens – in freedom and fairness – and will, in time, serve as a foundation for the realization of our national aspirations and the return to our Western Armenia homeland – Kharpert, Dikranagerd, Kars, Sepastia, Cilicia, Moush, Van, and so much more.
Our collective efforts, as you know, go beyond Armenia’s borders, and include efforts to assist Armenian communities in the Middle East. We have opposed any escalation of violence in Syria (including U.S. airstrikes) and are seeking targeted aid to Armenians and all Christians, even as we support Armenia as a safe haven for refugees.
Here’s an article from today’s New York Times about Armenians struggling to survive in Syria.
It’s a tribute to you that, on all these issues, the ANCA has an unmatched record in Washington of delivering results. We’re not afraid to stake out our ground or to push back hard against our enemies (and we’ve got the battle scars to prove it)!
You and I truly are soldiers in the “second army of the Armenian nation.” (Click here to see why.)
Baku and Ankara know this. That’s why they budget tens of millions a year to try to tear us down. They’ve got a lot to spend, and have hired high-priced influence peddlers. But, with your help, we’ll never let them hijack America’s foreign policy or roll-back our progress.
You know the stakes. Turkish and Azerbaijani leaders make no secret of their desire to finish the work of 1915: to isolate and subjugate our homeland. In fact, Ilham Aliyev just claimed Yerevan as “Armenian-occupied territory.”
That’s why we must protect Armenia.
And, as Diasporans, we also need to do our part to help improve Armenia as well.
Domestic stability, democratic governance, regional security, and international credibility all represent vital elements of Armenia’s long-term viability.
Even as the ANCA fiercely defends Armenian interests in the international arena, we’re also doing our part, as American citizens, to help improve Armenia from within, starting with the gravest threats: poverty, corruption, and emigration.
Our advocacy with the U.S. government has – with your help – delivered over $2 billion in U.S. aid to help support poverty-reduction, anti-corruption, and job-creation reforms. And we’re pushing for the Millennium Challenge Corporation to consider a second grant to Armenia, later this year, to provide tens of millions of new aid dollars to help bring energy and clean water to impoverished villages and farms.
Even more important than aid are trade and investment. That’s why we’re pressing for trade missions, tax treaties, visa relaxation and trade agreements to increase bilateral trade from $200 million/year to $1 billion/year in the next five years. A thriving middle class will strengthen Armenia’s economy and provide support for domestic reforms.
If you’d like more details, here’s a 16-page report on our activities.
We fight all these battles for you because, like you, we want a strong Armenia.
An Armenia, strong in every way:
— An eternal home for her citizens
— A proud symbol of justice and survival
— A beacon for her sons and daughters abroad
— A foundation for a free, united and independent homeland
For all these urgent reasons, as we embark into a new year, I hope you will, once again, step up as an activist for our common cause.
Your support has been an insurance policy against renewed Azerbaijani or Turkish aggression, and today represents an enduring investment in the future of the Armenian nation.
So please cast your vote of confidence once again for our shared values, by connecting with the ANCA on-line and through your favorite social media:
By strengthening the fabric of the Armenian social network, we can bring our homeland and diaspora closer together, reminding the people of Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakhk that, while they may be far away, they remain close to our hearts.
You know better than anyone that the ANCA doesn’t have a single big benefactor or corporate sponsor. We won’t take government funding, from Yerevan or Washington. We are a genuine grassroots group that relies upon you, and friends like you, for resources, grassroots activism, and constructive feedback.
Your participation in the work of the ANCA has translated into decisive political pressure, billions in aid, increased bilateral trade, and positive media coverage – like the ongoing controversy around the White House’s scandalous efforts (at Ankara’s urging) to keep the Armenian Orphan Rug hidden away from the American public.
Here’s a fun, fast-paced video that highlights the enduring devotion and youthful energy the ANCA brings to the Armenian Cause.
I know, during the rush of the recent holidays, it was easy to put off volunteering time and energy for worthwhile causes or your favorite charities. Whether you were able to lend a hand this Christmas season or not, please know how much we value and respect your devotion to our homeland and heritage.
As I’ve shared with you before, we are all Armenians, and each of us, in our own way, bring something special to the life of our community and cause.
With my heartfelt regards to you and your family on this Christmas Day and warm wishes for health and happiness throughout 2014,
PS – As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Contact me any time. My personal email is email@example.com.
Aram Hamparian [firstname.lastname@example.org]