Congressional Armenian Caucus members highlight strengthening relations with Armenia

13:41, 8 March, 2018

YEREVAN, MARCH 8, ARMENPRESS. The bipartisan Congressional Armenian Caucus held a reception on March 7th in the U.S. Capitol celebrating the Armenia-U.S. Parliamentary delegation’s visit to Washington, DC, and highlighting the growing diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries, ARMENPRESS reports, citing the official website of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We are pleased to help host tonight’s program and gratified to see, at this event and throughout their visit, constructive and productive discourse around key bilateral deliverables, including a working U.S.-Armenia Tax Treaty – an inter-Parliamentary priority that will help create a business-friendly environment for expanded U.S. trade and investment in Armenia’s growing IT, agriculture, tourism and other commercial sectors,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Congressional Armenian Caucus co-Founder and Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) kicked off Congressional remarks noting, “We had a great discussion, this morning about a number of issues, the taxation treaty, and the fact that Armenia has now signed this agreement with the European Union. We talked about Millennium Challenge [funding] and a number of other things that the [Armenian] Caucus is working on in trying to improve relations between our two countries and helping Armenia as well as Nagorno Karabakh.”

Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), one of two U.S. House members of Armenian descent, commented on the Armenia Parliamentary delegation’s meeting with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) earlier in the day. “I said to her, ‘this is the new Armenia and the new Armenia is all about moving to this parliamentary structure to create greater democracy and we want to be part of seeing Armenia succeed in this 21st century,’” said Rep. Speier, who went on to share her efforts to expand U.S.-Armenia cooperation in the IT sector.

Congressional Armenian Caucus Republican Co-Chair Dave Trott (R-MI) echoed the need for a U.S.-Armenia Double Tax Treaty and went on to explain: “Friends like Armenia we need to have a strong relationship with. […] We want to make sure the Administration and State Department continue to understand how important this relationship is and I’ll do everything I can to accomplish that.”

New York Congressman Paul Tonko (D) discussed the importance of the gift of shared heritage in his remarks, describing a recent visit to an Armenian community event in his district. “I witnessed the other day, very young children singing in the Armenian language sharing songs and messages and everyone is so proud. They are carrying on their heritage in a powerful way and that expression is so important because I’m a grandson of an immigrant and I believe we are invited to join a common table here in America and that we come to that table with all sorts of traditions and cultures and faith and we do that in a way that shares heritage as a gift.”

Referencing pro-Armenia proposals for the Fiscal Year 2019 foreign aid bill, Central Valley Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) noted “We need to make sure also to ensure the ‘peace and prosperity’ aid package for Artsakh and Armenia. We want to ensure that we can negotiate a Double Tax Treaty and show progress on other issues that we have to resolve.” The Congressman then cited the importance of both grassroots advocacy and expanded community participation in the U.S. political process. “All of you make a difference. The Armenian National Committee makes a difference,” said Congressman Costa, then citing the good work of past and present Armenian American staffers Denise Altounian, Alexa Fox, Tadeh Issakhanian, and Elina Karapetyan – all alumni of the ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program.

English –translator/editor: Tigran Sirekanyan

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