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News - Karabagh President Ghoukassian Starts US Tour with Successful Tribute Gala in New York

November 14, 2003


NEW YORK CITY, NY-----Two projects in Karabagh are of utmost importance - the building of the state-of-the-art Diagnostic Center in Stepanakert, and the completion of the 105-mile North-South highway. Armenia Fund USA is at the forefront to bring both to a successful fruition. To bolster support for these crucial enterprises, Karabagh President Arkady Ghoukassian arrived in New York on Thursday, October 23, to begin a seven city U.S. tour sponsored by Armenia Fund USA.

The highlight of his New York visit which included official visits to the Armenian Diocese and Armenian Prelacy, private meetings, and a lecture to Council of Foreign Relations, was the Tribute Gala held at the elegant St. Regis Hotel to benefit the Karabagh Diagnostic Center, and to honor major donors. Special guests included President Ghoukassian, his wife Inna Gabrielian, Armenia's Ambassador to the U.S. Arman Kirakossian, Armenia's Ambassador to the United Nations Armen Martirossian, newly-appointed All Armenia Fund Executive Director Naira Melkumian, and Karabagh representative Sarkis Kotanjian. During the congenial reception, guests were treated to a special exhibit by artist Kevork Mourad and music by pianist Tigran Martikyan.

The banquet program began with an invocation by the Prelate of the Armenian Prelacy Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, after which the tireless Banquet Committee Chairperson and Armenia Fund USA Board member Hilda Melconian warmly welcomed the guests. She paid tribute to guest of honor Baroness Caroline Cox, and the "dedicated group of philanthropists for their continuous support of Armenia Fund USA projects in the last decade."

She emphasized that the planned-for Diagnostic Center, "a crucial component of the Armine Pagoumian Polyclinic in Karabagh is a life-saving project which will help the people of Karabagh attain not only a higher quality of life, but one which is also uplifting." She announced that the construction of the Polyclinic which began last year, as well as the Diagnostic Center, are planned for a 2004 year completion. "Our mission is anchored in the vision to save and improve people lives, and give them hope for the future," she said, and introduced Mark Momjian, Esq. who performed his Master of Ceremonies duties throughout the evening with humor and great skill.

Armenia Fund USA Chairman Kevork Toroyan pointed out, in his informative remarks, that "over the last decade, Armenia Fund USA has made great strides toward rebuilding Armenia and Karabagh. "With the dedication of many individuals who are present tonight, we reconstructed the Vanadzor School #1, helped build the highway linking Armenia to Karabagh, constructed the Shekher Bridge, renovated the Spyrurk Educational Center in Yerevan, established the Karabagh Orphan's Endowment Fund, recently adopted the Ororotz Cradle Project, and are contributing to the construction of the North-South Highway in Karabagh.

"Tonight," he continued, "we draw attention to an ongoing project which will fulfill a deep need for a large population, the Stepanakert Polyclinic and its Diagnostic Center to provide crucial medical testing for comprehensive health care capabilities for the first time in Karabagh. Using slides, Dr. Alina Dorian, representative of the Karabagh Health Ministry, demonstrated the importance and modern features of the Stepanakert Polyclinic, and soon-to-be-built Diagnostic Center.

Special guest of honor, Congressman Frank Pallone who received a standing ovation, has been instrumental in garnering the support of 127 members (30%) of the U.S. House of Representatives for the Armenian Caucus in Congress. He expressed the hope that Congress will give Armenia $75 million next year, and stressed that the North-South Highway is a "lifeline" for the future of Karabagh, and paid tribute to Baroness Cox as a "true Armenian nationalist who would give her life for Armenia and Karabagh."


Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the British House of Lords, a leader in Christian Solidarity, and an Honorary Citizen of Karabagh, has made more than 60 humanitarian trips to Karabagh bringing much-needed medical supplies. In an inspirational keynote address, she related several "stories down memory lane" praising the " spirit, dedication, and heroism" of the Karabagh Armenians, especially their soldiers, and helicopter pilots. "In 1992, Stepanakert was pounded daily by Azeri grad missiles. Casualties of war suffered amputations, burns, operations with no anesthetics. Churches and homes were destroyed. What courage," she declared. "Imagine, 150,000 Armenians defending themselves against an Azerbaijan of seven million."

The city today, she continued, boasts beautiful, tree-lined streets, homes and hotels, and the churches have been restored to their natural majesty. "You create beauty from ashes of destruction for your freedom, for your holy land." Many were seen wiping tears, as she read a moving poem by Gegham, an eleven year old Karabaghtzi boy who eloquently expressed his love for the mountains and soil of Karabagh. In a plea for urgent help, she stressed that the United Nations must be involved. "UNICEF and UNHCR go to other disputed territories, but they won't go to Karabagh. This must change. Karabagh is holy Armenian land and the people will be there forever," she concluded to a standing ovation.

Karabagh President Arkady Ghoukassian, in his remarks, reiterated the courageous stance that Karabagh has symbolized to Armenians throughout the world. "We will never tire of winning victories in battle, in our economic, social and everyday life. We must never forget that Armenia and Karabagh are one nation It was Karabagh which woke up nationalism in Armenia. I invite you to come and witness the remarkable changes which have occurred on our land. Get the Karabagh fever. It's incurable," he declared to thunderous applause.

In a moving tribute to the Honorees for their selfless altruism and visionary leadership, their names were read, beginning with those who are deceased - Jack Hekimian, Leon Lazarian, Edward Mardigian, Lilian Terhoonian who have been placed on the Armenian Fund USA Honor Role. The Honorees who were unable to be present for the Gala included Sarkis and Bobbye Acopian, Gerard L. Cafesjian, Hagop Giritlian, Kevork and Sirvart Hovnanian, Helen Mardigian, Nazar and Artemis Nazarian, Richard and Jane Manoogian, Carolyn G. Mugar, Louise Manoogian Simone, Kaloust and Emma Sogoian, and Grikor Solakian.

The Honorees who were present were Antranig and Betty Berberian, Hirair and Anna Hovnanian, Jirair and Elizabeth Hovnanian, Vahakn and Hasmig Hovnanian, Hratch Kaprielian, and George and Huguette Pagoumian. All honorees received recognition medals and special gifts from the Armenia Fund USA in honor of their "landmark contributions" to Armenia and Karabagh.

The event concluded with Ambassador Arman Kirakossian expressing appreciation to the Armenia Fund USA, Baroness Cox, and the donors. The Benediction by the Primate of the Armenian Diocese Archbishop Khajag Barsamian brought to a close a most memorable and significant occasion.

Armenia Fund USA is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Contributions are 100% tax deductible.