Welcome Ceremony for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan


Lt. Governor Kounalakis and her husband stand on the stage with Armenian Prime Minster and other dignitaries

Lt. Governor Kounalakis and her husband stand on the stage with Armenian Prime Minster and other dignitari

Los Angeles City Hall, Grand Park
September 22, 2019

Thank you, Councilmember Krekorian, for your very kind introduction, and thank you to you and Mayor Garcetti for inviting me to participate in this historic gathering.  Bari Or, and for the Greek speakers, Yiassas Kaikalos Irthate!!

I am very pleased and excited to be here with you today on behalf of myself and Governor Gavin Newsom to officially welcome His Excellency, Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, to the State of California.  And it gives me great personal pleasure to also welcome the Prime Minister’s spouse Anna Hakobyan to our Golden State.

Governor Newsom regrets that he is unable to be here with us today to welcome you both personally but looks forward to meeting with you next week in New York.  But the fact that we are joined by so many distinguished public figures here today testifies to how welcome you are here in our state and in this region, which is home to the largest concentrated community of Armenians outside of your borders.

The Governor and I are extremely happy to have you here in California and hope that your brief stay will be enjoyable and fruitful.  I’m sure that even after only two days, you will see why so many of your compatriots have decided to make the Golden State their home.

Mr. Prime Minister, I had the privilege of visiting your lovely country just last month, where I experienced many moving, inspirational and unforgettable moments.  Looking back in time, my visit to the Etchmaidzin Cathedral  and the Khor Virap Monastery reminded me of Armenia’s ancient and historical roots.  And my visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum was a somber reminder of darker times.  But looking to the future, my visits to the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and the American University in Armenia allowed me to meet many of the ambitious and inspired young people who will be the future leaders and entrepreneurs of your country.

Mr. Prime Minister, today I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on the outcome of the Velvet Revolution that you and so many others led and which is on the path to transforming the governance of your country.

As we see from the world around us, maintaining a vibrant and effective democracy is always a work in progress, and our democratic way of life is not something that can be taken for granted.  You will continue to face many challenges as you continue to build for Armenia a government that is transparent, accountable, and truly representative.  But I know you have the support of the U.S. government in these efforts, and I can assure you that you also have the support of the people of California.

With regard to California, I am proud to be here today to represent this great state, one that has deep and longstanding ties with Armenia.  We are all aware of the large and vibrant Armenian community in California, and of the great and outsized contributions they make to California’s economic prosperity and political life at all levels, including at the very highest.  I am referring, of course, to that proud son of Armenia, George Deukmejian, who served as our governor, capping a long and distinguished career in public service to our state and nation.  To my knowledge, he is the only governor of Armenian descent to serve as an American governor, and he did it here, in America’s most populous and economically prosperous state.

Lt. Governor speaking to the crowd at the welcome ceremony for the Armenian Prime Minister

Lt. Governor Speaking at Los Angeles City Hall to Welcome Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Mr. Prime Minister, I hope that the presence of so many of your compatriots in California will continue to lead to mutually beneficial interactions between California and Armenia, particularly on the economic and trade fronts.  We welcome your startups in Silicon Valley, in San Francisco, and in Los Angeles, all over California; not only high-tech firms, but mom-and-pop small companies, too.  And everything in between!

And finally, as a Regent of the University of California, I am extremely proud of the longstanding, close and important relationship that the university has with the American University of Armenia.  I had a wonderful visit to their campus during my stay in Yerevan and was pleased to reaffirm California’s support for this important institution, which not only helps to educate the next generation of Armenian leaders and entrepreneurs, but which also serves as a bridge between California and Armenia.  In my mind, higher education is one of the most important exports our state has to offer, and the collaboration between the University of California and the AUA is a great example of how knowledge can be shared across borders for the benefit of all.

Once again, Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Hakobyan, welcome to California and thank you for honoring us with your presence.