First published in the Feb. 19 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
A state Assembly resolution garnered Senate approval this week to establish a sister-state relationship with the Province of Syunik in Armenia.
The resolution, initially offered in the Assembly by Pasadena Democrat Chris Holden, would establish sister-state relationship between California and Syunik, the southernmost province in Armenia which has profound historical and cultural significance for Armenia and the world. One of the original provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia, it is home to the Armenian Stonehenge that dates to the Bronze Age and has petroglyphs that are 7,000 years old.
In a statement, Holden said Syunik is described by Armenians as the backbone of Armenia, as it is an essential to importing and exporting goods from the south.
“Strengthening the relationship with Syunik comes at a critical time as regional powers like Azerbaijan and Turkey pose a threat to its existence and livelihood. This resolution reaffirms California’s solidarity with Armenia and our one-million-strong community of California-Armenians,” Holden said in a statement. “There is power in our solidarity and there is even more when we acknowledge the wrongs committed and urge for justice. We set precedent for the future with our action or inaction and today, we are creating long-lasting ties to thread forward a better tomorrow.”
Holden said the relationship would reinforce California’s solidarity with and support for the people of Syunik and will facilitate “mutually beneficial educational, economic and cultural exchanges between the two states.” The resolution would also create a taskforce with representatives from the community of Syunik, government of Syunik, government of California and community partners of California.
“As an immigrant, this issue hits close to home for me. I and many of my constituents worry about the safety of loved ones residing in that region, so I am deeply aware of the uncertainty inherent in living there and the privilege we have to live in California,” said Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, who is seeking reelection in a newly redrawn district that includes north Glendale. “By creating this sister-state relationship with the Syunik Province, we will do our part, albeit small, to share some of the benefits of living here through economic, educational and cultural engagement.”
Ambassador Armen Baibourtian, the consul general of Armenia in Los Angeles, hailed the development as a “milestone of strategic nature” for the two states. Nora Hovesepian, chair of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, also touted Holden for his work.
“At such a critical time when Syunik’s sovereignty is at great risk under the grave threats posed by Azerbaijan and Turkey, this bold move by the state of California is a declaration of solidarity meant to facilitate mutually beneficial educational, economic and cultural exchanges, which in turn will strengthen the resolve of the people of Armenia to stand strong against the ongoing threats they face from belligerent and aggressive actors in the region,” Hovsepian said.