On Thursday, September 25, 2008, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan addressed the 63rd UN General Assembly. AGBU members attended the morning session of the General Debate to hear President Sargsyan speak. Those in attendance included John Cherkezian (Chief Operating Officer), Artoun Hamalian (Director of Education), Natalie Gabrelian (Associate Director of Education), as well as AGBU-UN Special Interest Group members Viktoria Grigorian (AGBU Program Coordinator) and Yelena Ambartsumian (AGBU Main Representative to the UN).
The President’s speech mentioned recent events in Georgia and focused on the need for greater cooperation and diplomacy in the South Caucuses region. President Sargsyan also raised attention to his “football diplomacy” initiative, which began unprecedented diplomatic talks between Armenia and Turkey. With Turkish President Gul, he “discussed the array of bilateral and regional issues,” and both leaders “decided not to leave current problems to future generations.”
President Sargsyan also called attention to a resolution introduced by a representative of Azerbaijan and adopted in March 2008, by the 62nd General Assembly. This resolution, which had a recorded vote of 39 in favor and 7 against (with 100 abstentions) demands “immediate, complete, unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan” while reaffirming that the Azerbaijani population “expelled from the occupied territories” has an “inalienable right” to return to their homes. The draft also reaffirms that “no State shall recognize as lawful” the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh nor render aid or assistance in “maintaining this situation.” President Sargsyan asked “Isn’t it possible to at least abstain from creating new challenges in the process?” and expressed that he views this resolution as a distraction, instead preferring to cooperate with Azerbaijan through the OSCE Minsk Group.
Following the speech, the AGBU delegation had an opportunity to join members of other Armenian organizations and UN Armenian personnel in meeting President Sargsyan in the Secretariat Building at the site of the Khachkar.