Cultural Events and Working Meetings Mark Trip to Kiev and Odessa

Plans for a new AGBU Chapter in Ukraine are now underway, following an AGBU delegation visit to Kiev and Odessa on February 22-24. Delegation members met with political and community leaders to discuss the place and contributions of Armenians in Ukraine and ways in which a future AGBU Chapter can further strengthen them. The 300-500,000 strong Ukrainian-Armenian community is one of the oldest in Europe, tracing its roots to the beginning of the last millennium. Ukraine Parliament member Arsen Avakov and his adviser Tigran Avagyan accompanied the AGBU representatives, comprised of AGBU Central Board Members Vasken Yacoubian and Yervant Zorian, AGBU Europe Board Member Nicolas Tavitian and AGBU Strategic Advisory Council Member Guy Markarian, throughout the trip. In Kiev, they met with Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Rybak and Members of Parliament Mher Mkhitaryan and Vilen Shatvoryan, as well as the heads of several Parliamentary committees. Later that day, AGBU Europe Central Board member Gor Abgaryan joined the AGBU delegates, as well as Mr. Avakov and Mr. Avagyan, for further talks. In Odessa, AGBU leadership caught a glimpse of the vibrant Armenian diaspora communities that shape the country's social fabric. On Saturday, February 23, upon arriving in the city, they were welcomed by key community leaders from across Ukraine. In addition to meeting with the city's Consul General of the Republic of Armenia Georgiy Muradyan, Archbishop Grigoris Buniatyan, Primate of the Ukrainian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Odessa Armenian Community Chair Samvel Tigranyan, they paid their respects to the local Soviet World War II hero Marshal Hamazasp Babajanian during a memorial ceremony. At the nearby cultural center, they enjoyed a performance, including dance and opera pieces, organized in honor of their visit. During their final meeting the following day, the delegation outlined concrete steps toward establishing the new AGBU Chapter, and ways to begin integrating Ukraine's Armenian diaspora into the organization's global network. With Mr. Avakov, his colleagues Tigran Avagyan, Artyom Karadjian, and Alexander Avakov, they discussed initiating AGBU Young Professionals groups and establishing AGBU Armenian Virtual College laboratories in major Armenian communities within the country. Also on the agenda were plans to send students from Ukraine to Armenia through AGBU youth programs such as Camp Antranik, Discover Armenia, the Musical Armenia Program and the Yerevan Summer Internship Program. As the weekend came to a close, Mr. Yacoubian commented on its success, and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead, stating, "The Armenian community in Ukraine is a very important part of the Armenian world, and I am delighted that AGBU will be working here. We received a magnificent welcome, and could see how much potential there is. The onus is now also on AGBU to find the best ways to contribute for the benefit of the community here and the Armenian nation as a whole." His remarks underscore the great strides AGBU is making in expanding its global reach, fostering a deep sense of Armenian national identity that transcends borders.

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