Interview with ACA Louisiana Chairman Vasken Kaltakdjian

Kaltakjian-LouisianaSenate

On May 30, 2013, the Louisiana State Senate, passed a Resolution recognizing the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and expressing support for its development as a free and independent nation in order to guarantee its citizens those rights inherent in a free and independent society.

The Resolution also urges the President of the United States and Congress to support the self-determination and democratic independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and its constructive involvement with the international community’s efforts to reach a just and lasting solution to security issues in that strategically important region. The Louisiana State Legislature became the fourth state legislative body to recognize the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, previous States to do so are Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.

The Resolution was spearheaded by Louisiana State Senator Edwin R. Murray (D-New Orleans), who worked closely with Mr. Vasken Kaltakdjian, Chairman of the Armenian Council of America (ACA) Louisiana chapter.

The following is an interview with Mr. Kaltakdjian regarding the passage of the historic Resolution:

Massis: How did the Resolution regarding NKR come about?
– In early April, I had a long conversation with the Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the United States, Mr. Robert Avetisyan, contemplating how our Louisiana community could be of help towards the NKR Republic. One has to remember that the Azeri government is actively engaged in propagandizing and falsifying the region’s history, specifically the actions of Armenians and the historical Armenian homeland. It was within that conversation that we envisioned the passage of a resolution regarding NKR within the Louisiana State legislature. Over time we worked together on what type of resolution would be best and what were the possibilities of the resolution passing. We concluded, given the circumstances, this specific resolution would be the best option.

The Resolution was introduced in the Senate by Louisiana State Senator Edwin Murray on May 29th. As we anticipated, numerous Senators, including Mr. Murray were personally contacted by representatives of not only the Azeri government but also the Turkish government in an effort to persuade the Senators to not pass the Resolution.

Massis: Throughout the process was there any doubt that the passage might fail or be pulled from a vote?
– When the representatives and Consular Generals of Turkish and Azeri governments started to personally contact the State Senators, we remained strong in the belief that what we were trying to accomplish is the right thing to do. When they tried to intimidate these same Senators, we knew that they were scared and the Resolution was on the threshold of passing. The Resolution passed unanimously, and its passage is a testament to the integrity of our State Legislators.

Massis: How was the passage of the Resolution perceived?
– It was a bit of a surprise to many, compared with other States the Armenian American community in Louisiana is quite small, thus the unanimous passage of the Resolution within the State Senate was a tremendous success. The ACA of Louisiana proved that as long as Armenian Americans stand strong behind the truth we can achieve such moral victories.

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