YEREVAN—Congressman Jim Costa from California’s 16th Congressional District toured the American University of Armenia (AUA) on July 20th, as part of a four-day visit to Armenia, which included meetings with Armenian lawmakers. Over 150 people joined US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills and Honorary Consul of Armenia to Fresno Berj Apkarian in hearing Rep. Costa speak about US-Armenia relations and the role of AUA.
In his remarks, Rep. Costa proudly announced the establishment of an endowment at AUA by Fresno resident Edward Kashian, reflecting the close existing relationship between California State University, Fresno (CSU Fresno) and AUA. He also touched upon his efforts in Congress, the worldwide political climate, the 2016 US presidential election, the realities of today’s Armenian-American community in Fresno, as well as the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).
“You should just call me Jim Costigian” stated Rep. Costa, noting that while he may not be Armenian, he has grown up with Armenians. He continued his remarks by talking about his close relationship with Armenians in the Central Valley of California. “When I think of my first visit to Armenia, stepping foot on Armenian soil yesterday, I think in some ways I have come home,” stated Costa. He continued, “I have a special concern or relation because I grew up in Fresno, California, and I affectionately refer to the land I grew up as the Land of William Saroyan.”
Rep. Costa reasserted the fact that the Armenian Genocide was in fact genocide and remains hopeful the House of Representatives will recognize it as such. The congressman emphasized a stronger Armenia will develop as a result of close partnerships with American institutions such as AUA and CSU Fresno. He stated in his closing remarks, “It is why we educate young people at this fine University, as well as others around the world, about facts mattering and how you can make a difference. And that you are the future. Each and everyone one of you are the future. You do well, Armenia does well.” Throughout his talk, Rep. Costa stressed hoe facts matter when it comes to politics and that democracy isn’t easy, it’s a work in progress.