By Emil Danielyan
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has congratulated actor Arnold Schwarzenegger on his election last week as the new governor of the U.S. state of California that has the highest concentration of Armenian-Americans.
“Armenia has forged strong ties with California since its independence and I am confident that they will continue to grow and develop,” Oskanian said in a letter publicized by his press service on Wednesday.
Oskanian praised Schwarzenegger for his September 21 statement commemorating the 12th anniversary of Armenia’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. “I am convinced that that message was also well received by California’s large Armenian community,” he said.
The statement, issued two weeks before California’s dramatic recall vote, appeared part of Schwarzenegger’s efforts to win over hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenian voters living in the state. It was welcomed by leading Armenian-American organizations.
“The Armenian-American community appreciates your recent statement commemorating Armenia's Independence, as well as your commitment to develop and strengthen relations between California and Armenia,” Peter Vosbikian, chairman of the influential Armenian Assembly of America, said in his congratulatory message to Schwarzenegger on Monday.
Schwarzenegger’s ousted predecessor, Gray Davis, underlined the political clout of the local Armenian community last year when he decided to open a Californian trade office in Yerevan. Plans for the opening of the mission were not affected by the Davis administration’s subsequent decision to close down most of the state’s representations abroad for cost-cutting purposes.
(AP-Photolur photo: Schwarzenegger hugs new U.S. citizen Karo Karapetian, from Armenia, after the latter registered to vote as a Republican during a campaign event on September 17 in Los Angeles.)