AGBU President Berge Setrakian Underscores Organization’s Dedication to Homeland-Diaspora Symbiosis in Latest Visit to Armenia

sarkisian  On March 22, 2009, AGBU President Berge Setrakian arrived in Yerevan for
discussions with Armenia’s leaders on the challenges faced by the
Armenian people and issues pertaining to homeland-diaspora relations, in
light of new international, regional and Armenian community realities,
as well as to follow up on, give new impetus to, and bring into focus
the goals of AGBU’s programs in the homeland.
In the course of this visit, Setrakian met with His Holiness Karekin II,
Catholicos of All Armenians, Serge Sargsian, President of the Republic
of Armenia, Tigran Sargisian, Prime Minister of Armenia, Hovik
Abrahamian, President of the National Assembly, Hranush Hakobyan,
Minister of Diaspora, Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and Spartak Seyranian, Minister of Education, accompanied by members of
the AGBU Central Board of Directors, Vasken Yacoubian and Yervant
Zorian, the Vice Chairman of the AGBU SCDC Haig Messerlian, and the
directors of the AGBU Representative Office in Armenia.
vaskenAt his March 23 meeting with the Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan,
Setrakian stressed the necessity of adopting a strategy that goes beyond
traditional approaches and organizations, taking the new diasporan
realities into consideration. A strategy based on a clear analysis of
priorities that address the interests of young diasporan Armenians who
are not involved or feel distanced from traditional Armenian community
life. During the meeting, Minister Hakobyan expressed her satisfaction
about the productive activities being carried out by AGBU in both the
homeland and the diaspora. She also presented a brief overview of the
ministry’s programs for maintaining national identity and bringing
Armenians together, along with programs adopted by the Armenian
president and government to foster cooperation between Armenia and
Armenian communities around the world.
Setrakian acknowledged the importance of the activities of the Diaspora
Ministry, wherein the balanced merger of civil society and governmental
approaches will inevitably lead to anticipated results. Special emphasis
was placed on programs developed by AGBU in recent years that provide
social and academic experiences to diasporan Armenian youth in Armenia,
in light of the potential these programs have in raising awareness and
cultivating a sense of national identity.
Following this meeting, Setrakian met with Spartak Seyranian, Armenia’s
Minister of Education and Science. During the meeting, issues of mutual
interest were discussed, especially those pertaining to AGBU’s
educational programs, and particularly the soon-to-be-launched AGBU
Virtual College. Through the application of the latest information
technology, this new AGBU initiative creates opportunities for
individuals scattered all over the world to access credit-bearing and
in-depth information on topics of Armenian language, history, and
The same day, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargisian received
Setrakian and Vasken Yacoubian of the AGBU Central Board. Prime Minister
Sargisian expressed thanks to AGBU and its leader personally, adding
that he was satisfied with the course of the implementation of projects
underway by AGBU. Setrakian stated that through its projects in the
homeland, AGBU is engaged in the task of connecting members of the young
diasporan Armenian generations to their national roots and inspiring
them with the reality of the homeland. He expressed the conviction that
while the impact of traditional organizations and their activities has
weakened in the diaspora,
and the new generation is distancing itself from Armenian life and
gradually losing the language, Armenia remains the only strong foothold
that can inspire and energize the youth and ignite in them an interest
and pride in their identity and heritage.
On March 24, President Setrakian and Vasken Yacoubian were received by
Hovik Abrahamian, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of
Armenia. The president of the National Assembly highly praised AGBU’s
activity in Armenia and welcomed the programs aimed at acquainting the
youth with national traditions, culture and history, while strengthening
their ties with the homeland. Setrakian underlined AGBU’s commitment to
continue its extensive programs in the homeland despite the
international financial and economic crisis. He noted AGBU’s vision of
building a contemporary center in Yerevan for young Armenian specialists
and intellectuals, endowed with all the necessary resources.
Later on, Setrakian and Yacoubian had a meeting with Armenian Foreign
Minister Edward Nalbandian and they discussed supporting Armenia’s
foreign policy, defending Armenian rights and assisting Armenian
diplomatic missions abroad.
The same day, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians,
received Setrakian at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. During the
meeting, Setrakian underscored the important role of the Armenian Church
and clergy in the spiritual and national life of the Armenian people,
pointing out the necessity of putting the priority of that role above
other issues.
On March 25, the opening of the new building of the sports and cultural
center took place in the Nubarashen district of Yerevan. In cooperation
with the World Bank and Armenian Social Investment Fund, AGBU helped
realize the Nubarashen Sports and Cultural Center by underwriting more
than 55 percent of the overall cost. In response to journalists’
questions, Setrakian expressed joy for the opening of such a building in
the community founded by Boghos Nubar, which can be considered a payment
of respect for the memory of AGBU’s founder. Participating in the
opening ceremony were President Setrakian, AGBU Central Board of
Directors members Vasken Yacoubian and Yervant Zorian, World Bank
Executive Director Rudolf Yan Trefers, Armenian Social Investment Fund
Director Ashot Kirakosian, Nubarashen community leader Mher
Hovhannisian, colleagues of the community administrative center, and
prominent community figures.
The same day, Setrakian and other AGBU leaders attended an awards
ceremony for the Yerevan finals of the Yerevan Republican
Interscholastic Chess Olympiad. For the second year in a row, AGBU is
sponsoring the interscholastic chess Olympiad, together with Armenia’s
Ministry of Education and Science and the Chess Academy of Armenia. The
sponsorship of the interscholastic chess Olympiad is one of AGBU’s
newest youth programs and it is designed to generate interest in chess
and identify future talents, through whom Armenia can maintain its
standing as a frontrunner in international chess competitions.
In the evening of the same day, President of the Republic of Armenia
Serge Sargsian received AGBU President Berge Setrakian. During their
meeting, President Sargsian expressed high appreciation for AGBU’s
activity in Armenia and the diaspora for the benefit of the nation and
preservation of the Armenian identity. He also hailed the organization’s
new programs in Armenia.
Setrakian, in turn, briefed the Armenian President on AGBU’s upcoming
programs. They spoke about preserving the diaspora’s potential, rallying
diasporan Armenians around national goals and maintaining the Armenian
identity. During their meeting, Sargsian and Setrakian exchanged
opinions about certain national issues of political significance.
On the evening of March 25, Berge Setrakian and the members of the
Central Board of Directors had a meeting with the staff of the AGBU
Armenian Virtual College (AVC), to assess the work being done in the
various developmental aspects of the program. AVC has already launched a
pilot version of their initiative which is open to the public for review
and feedback at

YP Northern California Winter Gala Weekend Attracts Hundreds, Raises $6,000 for American University in Armenia Scholarships


San Francisco – Over 200 Armenian Young Professionals from around the globe gathered in San Francisco, California for the 10th Winter Gala Getaway Weekend on February 20, 2009. The annual affair, organized by AGBU Young Professionals of Northern California (AGBU-YPNC), raised $6,000 for scholarships at the AGBU-funded American University of Armenia (AUA), an American-accredited university.
The Winter Gala is an opportunity for friends, new and old, to network with fellow professionals of Armenian descent in a friendly social setting. The weekend began at Cossu, a San Francisco hotspot, where DJ Raffy spun his international beats all night long.
On Saturday, guests took advantage of the unusually sunny and warm weather to plan city tours, visit landmarks and shop in Union Square.
After a day of relaxation and exploration, guests traveled to the city’s SOMA district for the Gala Evening at San Francisco’s 111 Minna Art Gallery against a backdrop of breathtaking skyline and Minna’s edgy, contemporary artwork. Rev. Father Nercess Balabanyan of the Armenian Calvary Church gave a heartfelt blessing, followed by a warm welcome from Gala Chairpersons Steven Cherezian and Arsineh Ghazarian.
"The Winter Gala is, hands down, the most incredible Armenian event I have ever attended," Ghazarian said. "It brings Armenians from around the world together for an amazing weekend and unites them under a shared purpose — support of an Armenian cause."
On behalf of the AGBU Central Board of Directors, AGBU YP Liaison Kim Yacoubian from New York presented a special award to the AGBU Young Professionals of Northern California Chairwoman Emily Kluczynski and former Chairman Edward Minasian to mark the group’s 10-year anniversary and a decade of extraordinary service to the Armenian community and to AGBU. As one of AGBU’s first YP Groups established in 1998, AGBU YP Northern California has matured into a formidable presence serving the YP community in the Bay area as well as the AGBU family.
Back by popular request, Khatchig Jingirian and his band provided the musical entertainment for the evening and the party continued with a post-dance event at the world-renowned nightclub Ruby Skye. Weekend festivities officially concluded with a private brunch at Rouge and Blanc Wine Bar, which was catered by the chef at the neighboring Café De La Presse.
"There is real joy in bringing Armenians together in our gorgeous city for a really great cause," exclaimed Gala committee member, Alison Ekizian. "It’s exciting to draw our community together and twice as rewarding to do it in the spirit of philanthropy."
The AGBU-YPNC chose the AUA as this year’s recipient for their annual philanthropy. The funds will go towards providing scholarships for outstanding AUA students. "Education is one of the best ways we can give back to Armenia," says AGBU-YPNC Chair Emily Kluczynski. "Helping the students of today helps the Armenia of tomorrow."

AGBU Garbis Papazian Award Given to Polish Public Figure & Photographer Msgr. Stanislaw Pindera


The 2008 AGBU Garbis Papazian Award was given to Monsignor Stanislaw
Pindera at a reception held at the Armenian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland on
March 31, 2009. A devout servant of the Catholic Church, Msgr. Pindera
is also a well-known public figure and photographer in Poland. He was
given the award for his preparation and publication of an impressive
photographic album entitled Armenia: Stones Are More Eternal Than Man,
which was realized through the patronage of the Armenian ambassador to
Present at the reception were Polish political and public figures,
including members of the Polish Republic’s Sejm and Senat, high-ranking
diplomats at the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, various foreign
ambassadors to Poland, the dean of the Polish diplomatic corps and the
Catholic Archbishop of Warsaw.
His Excellency Ashot Galoyian, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to
Poland, spoke about how Msgr. Pindera’s impressive achievement made him
eminently worthy of this type of recognition. Amb. Galoyian went on to
outline the history of the photographic project and expressed his
gratitude to the author for his valuable contribution in spreading
knowledge and increasing public awareness about the scenic wonders and
historic monuments of Armenia and Karabakh.
Subsequently, Razmik Hartunian-Tamrasians, representative of the Garbis
Papazian Fund and president of the Austrian-Armenian Cultural
Association, presented the certificate and monetary award to Msgr.
Pindera. The congratulatory message of AGBU President Berge Setrakian
addressed to the award winner was also read.
During his speech, Msgr. Pinera thanked AGBU for the presentation and
spoke about the deep connection he feels for Armenia:
"I fell in love with this country at first sight. I can see it when I
close my eyes and when I open them again; it is like an open-air museum.
Finally, I fell in love with Armenian people whom I met during my
pilgrimage…In this album I wanted to show the true beauty of the
nature and the wealth of spiritual values of Armenia. This album is my
admiration for this extraordinary country and the people, who shed their
blood for the country – it is a miracle that Armenia and its nation
still exist. The miracle of a nation’s wisdom, but first of all the
strength of the written word."
The AGBU Garbis Papazian Award was established in 1988 through the
initiative and with the financial resources of Garbis Papazian, for the
purpose of recognizing non-Armenian intellectuals who contribute to an
increase in awareness of Armenian history, culture and the Armenian