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U.S. Armenian Lobbying Group’s Rep. Hails Sarkisian Diaspora Tour


Armenia -- Arpi Vardanian speaking at a press-conference in Yerevan. 07 Oct., 2009

Armenia -- Arpi Vardanian speaking at a press-conference in Yerevan. 07 Oct., 2009

A Washington-based Armenian lobbying group representative in Yerevan has spoken positively about the continuing pan-Armenian tour of President Serzh Sarkisian who has met with prominent members of Diaspora groups abroad to discuss his far-reaching diplomatic overtures to Turkey.

Arpi Vartanian, the country director for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh of the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), called Sarkisian’s weeklong tour of France, the United States, Lebanon and Russia as a precedent-setting event as she spoke at a press conference in Yerevan on Wednesday.

“I highly evaluate this initiative. This was a necessary thing to do,” said Vartanian. “The most important result, I think, is that the president has listened to the opinions and concerns.”

Despite the statement of Armenia’s foreign minister that the text of the initialed Armenia-Turkey protocols envisaging the establishment of diplomatic ties and development of bilateral relations between the two estranged nations are not subject to change, Vartanian still insisted that Sarkisian’s pan-Armenian tour wasn’t a formality.

“I am confident that the president finds it important. When he returns, we will hear his impressions…. He might postpone [the signing of the protocols]; so many issues could be raised and opinions voiced that we should reconsider or perhaps alter one point or another… Everything is possible.”

Vartanian, at the same time, said she could not say that the protests in some Diaspora communities expressed the opinion of the majority. “I cannot believe anyone who says specifically that this percentage is for or against, because there is no such research now,” she said.

“The protests that took place, as far as I know, were organized by a minority. There are many people who are for the process and welcome this process, of course with certain concerns, but they still want the process to go on so that we should not remain in the blockade.”
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