Recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia, John Marshall Evans, visited UCLA on February 17, 2005 to address students, faculty, and the public in an informative talk titled "Report from Armenia, 2005."
His visit to campus was arranged by Professor Richard G. Hovannisian, Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History, in cooperation with the Armenian Students Association, the Burkle Center for International Relations, the Center for European and Eurasian Studies, and the departments of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and Slavic Languages and Literatures.
Speaking before a capacity audience in the Viewpoint Conference Room of Ackerman Union, Ambassador Evans gave a frank assessment of his impressions of Armenia in the six months since he presented his credentials to the president of the Republic in September 2004. The ambassador touched upon the challenges and opportunities facing the Republic, which regained its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and was immediately recognized by the United States. Major external challenges include stabilizing conditions in the strategic Caucasus region and finding ways to improve relations with the neighboring states of Azerbaijan and Turkey so that they will lift their blockade of the landlocked Armenian state and accept a compromise solution to the territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabagh region.
Speaking of domestic issues, the ambassador stressed U.S. encouragement of democratic institutions, free and transparent elections, anti-corruption measures, and a revitalized economic and financial infrastructure. He also acknowledged the concerns of the Armenian-American community relating to U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
The talk was followed by a brisk discussion session, during which UCLA students questioned the ambassador about the U.S. policies in the South Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and matters of importance to the Armenian people. During the exchange, Robin Phillips, Mission Director in Armenia of the US Agency for International Development (US/AID) outlined the financial, educational, and moral assistance extended by the United States and reiterated the objective of advancing democratic institutions in Armenia.
Raffi Kassabian, President of the Armenian Students Association, closed the forum by thanking the ambassador for his report and stressing the importance of continued dialogue.
Ambassador Evans was also accompanied by Mrs. Donna Evans, former president of the World Affairs Council of Washington D.C., Eugenia Sidereas of the State Department's Armenia Desk, and Political Officer Aaron Sherinian, who served as the liaison with Professor Hovannisian in arranging the ambassador's visit to UCLA.
Prior to the public lecture, Ambassador Evans and his party were guests of honor at a luncheon in the Faculty Center attended by UCLA administrators and faculty and representatives of Armenian community organizations. They were welcomed by Chancellor Albert Carnesale and greeted by Vice Provost of the International Institute Geoffrey Garrett and Professor Hovannisian. On this occasion, Vice Provost Garrett presented both Ambassador Evans and the Honorable Gagik Kirakossian, Consul General of the Republic Armenia in Los Angeles, with Vasa sculptures designed by UCLA Design | Media Arts Professor Vasa Mihich, an internationally known sculptor.
Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2005