Berge Setrakian, President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), paid a visit to Armenia from May 28th - June 3rd to participate in the first session of the state committee coordinating the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 20th session of the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund’s Board of Trustees. As part of his visit to Armenia, Mr. Setrakian had meetings with RA President Serzh Sargsyan, RA NA Speaker Hovik Abrahamian, RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, the Catholicos of All Armenians His Holiness Karekin II, RA Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanian, RA Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan, and RA Minister of Diaspora Hranoush Hakobian. During the meetings Mr. Setrakian was accompanied by AGBU Central Board member Dr. Yervant Zorian and AGBU Armenian Representation Director Ashot Ghazarian.

On May 29th, along with the Pontifical retinue of His Holiness Karekin II, the AGBU President left for Rostov-on-Don (New Nakhijevan) to attend the consecration and the Divine Liturgy at the newly built St. Harutyun Church. In his speech, Mr. Setrakian congratulated the local Armenian community and those present, on the occasion of the opening of the new Armenian Church. The fact that recently the AGBU President had been present at a similar ceremony in the USA was symbolic, and drawing parallels between the two events Mr. Setrakian noted that the Armenian traditions, rituals and atmosphere are always the same; no matter where they are, the Armenians have the same problems and concerns, and face the same difficulties and challenges. The only difference is the country where they live. Mr. Setrakian welcomed the unification of the Armenians around the church and the fact that Armenian communities in the post-Soviet territory are becoming increasingly organized. On behalf of the AGBU, President Setrakian presented an organ to the church on the occasion of the consecration. On the evening of the same day the Pontifical retinue returned to Yerevan.

On May 30th, accompanied by the AGBU delegation, President Setrakian participated in the first session of the Armenian Genocide 100th anniversary state committee.

On June 1st, AGBU President Berge Setrakian took part in the 20th session of the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund’s Board of Trustees. On the evening of the same day President Setrakian was present at the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation. In his speech AGBU President Berge Setrakian spoke about the wide scope of national and humanitarian activities of the Karagheusian family, particularly focusing on Arshak Karagheusian’s activities as AGBU President (1942-1953) during the World War II and the years following, when AGBU, headed by Arshak Karagheusian, had undertaken the mission of holding national fundraisings to support war survivors, organize repatriation and help Armenia. Mr. Setrakian also praised the devoted national activities of the members of the Karagheusian family, Arshak, Mihran and Leila, underscoring their role in the construction and improvement of the Union’s Middle East schools, highly assessing the humanitarian activities of the Corporation in the past decades. Mr. Setrakian also mentioned the lasting cooperation and historic warm relations between AGBU and the Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation. On this occasion, Mr. Setrakian also visited the Karagheusian office, dental clinic and the Karagheusian Museum in Nork district of Yerevan. On June 1st, Mr. Setrakian had a meeting with RA Education and Science Minister Armen Ashotyan to discuss the cooperation between the Ministry and the Union in the field of education. On the same day, President Setrakian was received by RA Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. Prospects of AGBU’s possible assistance in the educational issues of the Armenian army were discussed during the meeting. In the evening of June 1st, at Tekeyan Cultural Association, Mr. Setrakian participated in the jubilee event dedicated to the 70th birthday anniversary of the prominent figure in the field of education: philologist, bibliographer and editor Lebanese-Armenian Jirayr Danielian. Mr. Danielian was awarded the TCA’s “Diamond Ararat” medal. In his congratulatory speech, Mr. Setrakian praised Jirayr Danielian’s active role in education and his activities as the longtime director of AGBU Tarouhi-Hovagimian Secondary School. On June 2nd, AGBU President Berge Setrakian was received by the NA Speaker of the Republic of Armenia Hovik Abrahamian. The Speaker of the Parliament highly assessed the Union’s activities towards the preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora. In turn, Mr. Setrakian expressed the Union’s readiness to continue its assistance to the Homeland. Issues related to the strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora relations were also discussed during the meeting. Later on the same day, Mr. Setrakian had a meeting with RA Diaspora Minister Hranoush Hakobian to discuss the joint projects of the Ministry and the Union and the cooperation between the Diaspora and Armenia. On June 3rd, Mr. Setrakian was hosted by Catholicos of All Armenians His Holiness Karekin II at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The sides discussed the process of joint educational and faith based projects of the AGBU and the Mother See. His Holiness expressed his gratitude to the AGBU President for the continuous devoted and cordial support to Holy Etchmiadzin by the members of the Union. On his behalf Mr. Setrakian emphasized the importance of the established cooperation between the Union and the Mother See, stating that the Union is ready and willing to continue assisting the mission of the Armenian Church.

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