LOS ANGELES — Armenia’s Ministry of Diaspora awarded the prestigious Arshile Gorky Medal to the author and lawyer Matthew Karanian this week during a ceremony at the Consulate General of Los Angeles.

The medal was awarded by Diaspora Minister Hiranush Hakobyan and was presented to Karanian by Consul Armella Shakaryan. The presentation was part of the Consulate General’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Armenian independence.

The Arshile Gorky Medal recognizes achievement in the arts and significant contribution to the collaboration between Armenia and the Diaspora. Karanian was recognized for his role as an advocate for Armenians and as the author of several books about Armenia, including the historical guide to Western Armenia “Historic Armenia After 100 Years.” (www.HistoricArmeniaBook.com)

The medal is named for the famous Armenian artist Arshile Gorky, who in 1915 fled his home on the shores of Lake Van, in Western Armenia, during the Armenian Genocide. He eventually found refuge in the United States.

Karanian is a second generation Armenian American who lives and practices law in Pasadena, Calif. He showed photographs from his books “Armenia and Karabakh,” and from “Historic Armenia After 100 Years,” during his remarks. He told the audience that Armenia’s independence has allowed it to become an international advocate for the Armenian Diaspora during the past 25 years.

“Independence has helped to strengthen the voice of Armenians worldwide, not only in the US, but also in places such as Artsakh and in Western Armenia,” Karanian said. “The Diaspora also has a responsibility to be engaged and to use this voice,” he added.

Armenia re-established its independence on September 21, 1991. The commemorative event at the Consulate was held on September 15.

The independence commemoration included a performance of the Armenian National Anthem by the singing ensemble Arevik. Mayor Paula Devine of Glendale, Calif., made brief remarks. The event also marked the opening of an art exhibition by the acclaimed artist Elizabeth Lizo Shahinian.

Paytsar Tovmasyan, a representative of California State Senator Kevin De Leon, presented the Consulate with a replica of one of the “Little Armenia” signs that greets motorists on the area’s freeways.

Consul Shakaryan had launched the evening’s celebratory program by noting that Armenia’s independence referendum in 1991 is “one of the brightest pages of modern Armenian history.”

1. Matthew Karanian presenting the keynote address during the commemoration of Armenia’s 25th anniversary of independence, at the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles (Photo by Sahag Melelian).

2-3. Armella Shakaryan, left, and Matthew Karanian, during the commemoration of Armenia’s 25th anniversary of independence, at the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles (Photo by Sahag Melelian).

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