PARIS, France. (A.W.)—Community and religious leaders, government officials, and benefactors gathered in Paris on Dec. 10— the International Day of Human Rights—at a fundraiser dinner organized by the ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Bureau, in support of the worldwide Armenian National Committees (ANC/Hay Tad) at the Cercle de l’Union interalliée Elysian Palace.

Honorary dignitaries included Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandian, Armenian Ambassador to the Holy See Mikael Minasyan, Armenian Ambassador to France Vigen Chitechyan, Pyunik Human Resources Development Foundation President Levon Sargsyan and Honorary President Gabriel Djambardji, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of France His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhannisyan, Prelate of Iran Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Bureau member Mourad Papazian, and Lebanese Member of Parliament and ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Lebanon Central Committee Representative Hagop Pakradouni.

Welcoming the guests and donors Bureau chair Hrant Markarian discussed the activities of the ANC and explained the importance of their political work. “The struggle of the ANC is not a struggle for the past, but a struggle for the modern-day Republic’s stability and security,” said Markarian.

Markarian stressed that the activities of the ANC are based on a vision that benefit Armenia and the Armenian nation. “If we become a nation without a purpose, we will no longer be a nation. It is our struggle against these various conditions that help us develop as a nation,” said Markarian. He added that there are very few organizations in this line of work and because and that the ARF has been destined to take this role. “If there were multiple organizations participating in this struggle, the outcome would be a healthy competition that would produce effective results,” added Markarian.

Markarian reminded the participants of the great results that the work of the ANC has produced, including the most recent example of the newly appointed Interior Minister of France visit to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh/NKR) with the invitation of the ANC. “With the funds raised and the strengthened committees of the ANC, we can bring more powerful politicians to Artsakh and get a great deal of work done,” concluded Markarian.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nalbandian recalled the “Pro Armenia” International Conference, which took place ten years ago in Paris during his tenure as Armenia’s Ambassador to France. In his welcoming remarks, Nalbandian added that the Armenian people have achieved many victories since then. “Not all groups of people have a cause like ours. I hope one day we can find the solution to our struggle,” said Nalbandian, who then wished the ANC the best of luck for their future activities.

Catholicos Aram I then addressed the efforts of all the volunteers and individuals who serve the ANC. “If it weren’t for the dedication and commitment of all the volunteers, we would not see any results. We are not rich, but with our dedication, a huge amount of work can be achieved,” said His Holiness. He discussed the protection of rights of the Armenian people, recalling the recent claim that was submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for the return of the historical headquarters of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia in Sis (present-day Turkey).

Later speaking to reporters, Aram Catholicos emphasized the importance of the work of the ARF ANC committees. “They are a trustworthy organization that deserve our support,” said the Catholicos.

ARF Dashnaktsoutiun Bureau member and ANC International Chairman Hagop Der Khatchadourian then presented a report that summarized the work of the committees.

Throughout the event, the Master of Ceremonies Stepan Der Bedrossian announced the donations made that day and in the weeks prior. Contributions were made from Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Armenia. Several major donations included two donations of $250,000 by Gagik Tsarukyan and Samvel and Karen Karapetyans; a donation of $150,000 by Samvel Aleksanyan; and four donations of $100,000 by Mikael Vardanyan, Karen Vardanyan, Michael Saryan, and the Pyunik Human Resources Development Foundation.

As a result, the final amount of donations that evening reached $3,860,000 and is expected to increase in the coming days.

Markarian concluded the event by thanking all the donors and assuring that the collected funds will serve to protect the rights of the Armenian people and the security and development of both Armenia and Artsakh.

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