ARIZONA – On February 7-10, Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles Ambassador Armen Baibourtian paid a working visit to the state of Arizona, where he had meetings with the state and city senior officials as well as with the Armenian community.
In Phoenix, Ambassador Baibourtian met with Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Hon. Russell “Rusty” Bowers. They discussed the ways of boosting relations between Armenia and Arizona and outlined areas of mutual interest. Special attention was paid to the mining industry in the state of Arizona, particularly copper mining. At the request of Consul General Baibourtian, Speaker Bowers referred to the highest environmental standards that the local mining industry adheres to. The Speaker of the State House of Representatives expressed readiness to share the best practices in responsible mining applied in local mining industry and based on stringent environmental regulations. The interlocutors agreed that it would be useful to put in touch the Armenian government experts with Arizona’s relevant departments. The parish priest of the local Armenian St. Apkar Church Rev. Fr. Zacharia Saribekyan and the Chairman of the Parish Council Rafi Hagopian took part in the meeting.
Armen Baibourtian’s next meeting was with Hon. Tony Rivero, Chairman of the Arizona House State and International Affairs Committee. The interlocutors discussed the steps for developing bilateral cooperation. Consul General Baibourtian emphasized that in the spectrum of activities of the Consulate General of Armenia, the task of development of relations with different western U.S. states, in addition to California, is viewed as a priority. He presented mutual advantages of establishing relations with Armenia.
Ambassador Baibourtian also had a meeting with the Mayor of Scottsdale Hon. W.J. “Jim” Lane. They exchanged views on efficient ways of establishing partnerships between cities, including “sister city” relations. Mayor Lane presented his city’s appropriate experience in developing effectual framework for constructive cooperation. A. Baibourtian specifically mentioned the role of the Armenian community in advancing bilateral relations with the state of Arizona. He also emphasized that Armenia’s strategic geographical location could become a platform for mutually beneficial business interaction between business communities of Armenia and Arizona, especially in the fields of tourism and services, where Scottsdale gained an extensive experience. Rev. Fr.Zacharia Saribekyan and Dr. Stephen Ovanessoff attended the meeting. The City of Scottsdale has a quarter-million population. Every year Scottsdale hosts 9 million visitors. That’s a bright example of utmost efficiency in local tourism governance. The New York Times described downtown Scottsdale as a “desert version of Miami’s South Beach”. St. Apkar Armenian Church built in 2009 is located in Scottsdale.
During his visit to Arizona, Ambassador Baibourtian was also hosted at the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies of the prestigious Arizona State University. The President of the Advisory Board of the Melikian Center RamonaLee Melikian and her mother Emma Ordjanian Melikian welcomed the Armenian Consul General and, along with the administrative leadership of the Center, briefed him on its programs. The Center received its name in 2007, in recognition of the generous support of Commander Gregory Melikian and his spouse Emma Ordjanian Melikian.
Ambassador Baibourtian also visited the Armenian Genocide memorial at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza. The plaza is in front of the Arizona State Capitol in downtown Phoenix.At St. Apkar Armenian Church, Ambassador Baibourtian met with the Armenian community of Arizona. The Consul General delivered an extensive speech, in which he highlighted the role of the Armenia community in establishing multifaceted bonds of cooperation between Arizona and Armenia. Ambassador Baibourtian presented to the community the profound changes taking place in the homeland due to which Armenia has found itself in the positive focus of the international community. The Consul General also discussed the conducive economic environment in Armenia, existing business opportunities, and prospective areas for conducting business in the homeland. He also answered many questions of the public.
At the end of the program, Ambassador Baibourtian highly appreciated dedication and outstanding service of the parish priest Rev. Fr. Zacharia Saribekyan and presented him with an official certificate of appreciation.
Arizona is the 6th largest and the 14th most populous (7.2 million) of the 50 U.S. states. The state’s major industries include healthcare, mining (copper, gold and silver), tourism (40 million visitors annually), transportation, IT and electronics. More than 12,000 Armenians live in Arizona.