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ARMENIAN PRESIDENT BESTOWS ORDER OF HONOR ON AGBU PRESIDENT DURING 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF ARMENIAN INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS IN NEW YORK

On Friday, September 23, 2011, Armenian President Serge Sargsyan awarded AGBU president Berge Setrakian with the Order of Honor for his significant contributions to the Republic of Armenia. The honor, one of the highest bestowed by the Republic of Armenia, was awarded during the 20th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia gala at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan's financial district.

The event, which was attended by 700 New York-area Armenians, was jointly organized by the Armenian Embassy in the United States, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia at the United Nations, and leading Armenian-American organizations. The Order of Honor is given to individuals who provide significant services in "the protection of national interests of the Republic of Armenia aimed at the consolidation of independence and democracy."

During his keynote address, President Sargsyan celebrated the promise of Armenia for Armenians everywhere. "Together we should renew our hope and faith in our marvelous country and our strengths. We should renew our vow, which very few have betrayed down through the millennia and which very many have faithfully honored. They've fought, created and taught, given treatment and built, written volumes and deciphered, gone to jail and into exile, raised healthy, educated children and bequeathed to them the formula for remaining faithful to the centuries-old vow," he said.

The Armenian leader also touched upon the unique and important relationship that Armenia and the diaspora share. "I have had opportunities to note that day by day Armenia and the diaspora are becoming the continuation of one another," he said. "We can't have the Armenia of our dreams, without including the efforts and contributions of our diasporan compatriots. On the other hand, we can't have a diaspora that works effectively, remains Armenian, maintains and develops our traditions, and is proud of its own identity, without a stable, developing Homeland that has its place and role in the world."

The Order of Honor is one of the highest titles awarded by the Republic of Armenia. Other award recipients that same evening included lifelong AGBU member Rita Balian, who received the Medal of Mkhitar Heratsi for her work in the development of healthcare in Armenia through the Armenian-American Health Center, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), who received the medal "For Services Contributed to the Motherland" in recognition of his dedication to and support of Armenia. Two Armenian diplomats in America, His Excellency Garen Nazaryan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the UN, and His Excellency Tatul Markarian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, received the medal of "Mkhitar Gosh" for their diplomatic work.