Working vigorously through the month of April, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) held 50 meetings with congressional offices discussing key issues of concern, including reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, U.S. assistance to Armenia and Artsakh, as well as Christian and other minority communities at risk in the Middle East.
As a result of these efforts, the Assembly has welcomed Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL), Steve King (R-IA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Steve Knight (R-CA) as the newest Members to join the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, bringing the total to 122 Members.
"I'm proud to join the Armenian Caucus, working in a bipartisan manner to strengthen the U.S.-Armenian relationship - a vital strategic partnership," stated Rep. Crist.
Congressman Crist represents the 13th congressional district of Florida, on the Gulf Coast from Clearwater down to St. Petersburg. After meeting with the Assembly, he co-signed this year's letter to President Donald Trump to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide. Last year, the Congressman co-signed a letter to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to arrest, prosecute, and jail members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security detail who attacked peaceful protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Swalwell told the Assembly: "I'm happy to join the bipartisan Congressional Armenian Caucus because I believe in strengthening the diplomatic, cultural, economic and military ties between our nations. You don't need to be of any particular political party, or of Armenian descent, to know that many of our interests intersect and we should work together to ensure peace and prosperity throughout the Middle East, West Asia, and around the world."
Congressman Swalwell represents the 15th congressional district of California, which includes parts of the East Bay in Northern California, and is a co-sponsor of H.Res. 220, affirming the Armenian Genocide.
Rep. King agreed to join the Armenian Caucus after meeting with the Assembly and Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) Archbishop Vicken Aykazian. During the meeting they discussed the plight of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. Rep. King also co-sponsored H.Res. 220 and signed the letter urging President Trump to reaffirm the Armenian Genocide.
"I'm proud to join my colleagues on the Congressional Armenian Caucus," said Rep. Knight. "America and Armenia share much in common, especially our mutual commitment to freedom of religion and individual liberties. It's also important to never forget atrocities like the Armenian Genocide so that we may always remain vigilant in ensuring they never happen again. Southern California has a large contingent of Armenian Americans, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the caucus to address these important issues."
Congressman Knight represents the 25th congressional district of California, which covers a sizable part of northern Los Angeles County, and includes the Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley, the Antelope Valley, and the northern section of the San Fernando Valley. He co-signed the bipartisan Royce-Engel letter, which proposes common sense measures to curtail ongoing Azerbaijani military-initiated attacks against citizens of Artsakh and Armenia, and calls upon the OSCE Minsk Group to "publicly condemn specific acts of aggression along the line of contact."
"The Assembly is pleased that Rep. Knight has joined the Congressional Armenian Caucus, and looks forward to continue working closely with the Congressman and his staff. I would like to take this opportunity to express the Assembly's gratitude to Ms. Vanessa Wilk for her extraordinary efforts in encouraging Rep. Knight to join the caucus," stated Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajan.
The Assembly's Western Region office has been in contact with Rep. Knight's Santa Clarita district staff since August 2017, when they held a productive meeting with the Congressman, along with the Assembly Southern California Regional Council (SCRC) and the leadership of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Santa Clarita. The Assembly-led delegation expressed its gratitude to Rep. Knight for his support of Armenian issues in Congress, and also acknowledged his efforts assisting Armenian American constituents during his tenure in the California State Assembly (2008-2012) and California State Senate (2012-2014).