The Republic of Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was the honored guest at a Town Hall meeting on the evening of Tuesday, September 24, at the Diocesan Center in New York. Mr. Pashinyan was in the city for the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The event was sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the U.S. and Armenia’s Permanent Mission to the U.N.
Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan greeted Mr. Pashinyan on the plaza of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral. With the Primate were Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, and Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, the Vicar of the cathedral, along with other clergy. Accompanying the Prime Minister were his wife and members of Armenia’s diplomatic corps, including Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. The visitors were ushered into the cathedral to pray before the altar and light candles.
Clergy and dignitaries then entered together Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium, where a packed house rose to deliver a warm welcome. The crowd in excess of 700 included people from throughout the region and leaders of the major Armenian organizations.
In introductory remarks spoken in Armenian, Bishop Daniel said of the Prime Minister: “More than any other figure, he represents the ‘new day’ that our homeland is experiencing—a new day that has awakened such excitement in the diaspora, and among people throughout the world.”
The Primate expressed his pleasure at welcoming of Mr. Pashinyan to the “national home” of Armenians in the U.S., the St. Vartan Cathedral complex—where Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers, diplomats, artists, scholars, and churchmen have visited in the past.
“In this center, our people come to pray, to speak, and to listen,” he said. “And you can be sure that God, too, is listening to us. May He continue to hear our voices.
In the Town Hall meeting that followed, Mr. Pashinyan fielded questions from the audience on all manner of subjects. He spoke with passion about eradicating corruption in Armenia’s political sphere; about eliminating business monopolies, and combatting the influence of oligarchs. He also noted that on the international stage, Armenia has been receiving increasingly positive assessments of its prospects
When asked what he personally saw as Armenia’s most pressing problem, Pashinyan said it was the low, stagnant wages of the average Armenian citizen. He felt optimistic that with the improved economic outlook, and his government’s anti-corruption measures, Armenia’s people would begin to see improvement in this area.
Throughout, he stressed to the crowd of diasporans, which included many first-generation émigrés from the homeland, that Armenians are building the future together.