[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 2 (Thursday, January 5, 1995)]
[Pages S518-S520]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


 Mr. SIMON. Mr. President, recently, I read in the news of the 
Armenian General Benevolent Union, a speech by Ambassador Harry 
Gilmore, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.
  Because it has insights into the problems faced in Armenia, I am 
asking to insert it into the Congressional Record at the end of these 
brief remarks.
  The United States must exert every effort to see that Armenia and her 
neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, can live together in peace.
  This is in the best interests of Armenia and is in the best interests 
of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
  But there are emotional barriers to achieving this.
  While those emotional barriers remain, the people of Armenia 
  This speech was given in Los Angeles, on June 14, 1994, to guests 
attending a fundraising banquet for the American University of Armenia, 
which I have had the privilege of visiting in Armenia.
  The speech follows:
   Harry Gilmore--United States Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia

       Distinguished friends and guests of the American University 
     of Armenia, I bring you a story tonight of darkness and 
     light. The darkness you know. Armenia is going through 
     perhaps the most difficult period it has endured since the 
     end of first Republic of Armenia in 1920. The people of 
     Armenia have been living without heat and light, beset by war 
     and economic hardship. But in the middle of the darkness 
     there are some islands of light--and one of those is the 
     American University of Armenia.
       Tonight I want to tell you some of my experiences as the 
     first Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of 
     Armenia. I want to tell you something about what the United 
     States Government is doing in Armenia. And I want to tell you 
     why I believe in the future of Armenia.
       Our Embassy in Yerevan, the first foreign Embassy in 
     Armenia, opened in February 1992, in the Hrazdan Hotel. Now 
     we are in the building that once was home of the Young 
     Communist League. We have about fifteen Americans working in 
     our Embassy from the Department of State, USAID, USIA, and 
     the Peace Corps, and about sixty Armenian employees. Plus 
     there are 25 Peace Corps Volunteers in Armenia, with more to 
     come in July.
       As you may know, in August 1992 I was first nominated to be 
     Ambassador by President Bush. After the 1992 elections, 
     President Clinton re-nominated me. I was finally confirmed by 
     the Senate in May 1993. I arrived in Yerevan with my wife 
     Carol that same month, one year ago.
       I found our diplomats in Yerevan were living, much like the 
     residents of Yerevan, frequently without electricity, heat, 
     or water. There was, and often still is, only about one or 
     two hours of electricity each day. During the first winter, 
     our diplomats often wrote their cables by the light of butane 
     lanterns. One diplomat found that his laptop computer 
     wouldn't start unless he heated it up first on top of his 
     wood stove.
       Now we are fortunate to have generators and kerosene 
     heaters in our homes and at the Embassy. Most Armenians are 
     not so lucky. Nuclear physicists are working by candlelight. 
     A factory that used to produce microprocessors is making 
     kerosene stoves. One daily newspaper, The Voice of Armenia is 
     being printed on ice-cream wrapping paper. The winter before 
     I arrived, the temperature inside school classrooms was often 
     below freezing. Some classes consisted of little more than 
     jumping up and down to stay warm.
       I decided from the beginning that our Embassy should have 
     three goals: first, to help Armenia survive, emphasizing 
     humanitarian assistance; second, to try to help Armenia 
     achieve peace, and an end to its economic isolation; and 
     third, to help Armenia build a democratic government and new 
     free market economy that will allow Armenians to control 
     their own destiny, and guarantee their own future.
            helping armenia survive: humanitarian assistance

       Our first job has been to help provide humanitarian aid, so 
     Armenia can survive the economic crises caused by the 
     collapse of the Soviet Union and the war. The Armenian-
     American community, the Armenian Church and other private 
     donor organizations have been extremely active in these 
     efforts. Soon after the Embassy opened, the U.S. Agency for 
     International Development located its regional office for the 
     Caucasus in Yerevan, and our government got involved in a 
     major way.
       Much of our time has been taken up by the logistics of 
     getting wheat and fuel moving to Armenia. I now know more 
     about the Georgian railway system than I ever wanted to know. 
     When U.S. government wheat was stranded in Batumi, in 
     Georgia, because there was no electricity to run the Georgian 
     railways, we chartered diesel locomotives, and provided fuel 
     for them. When there was a shortage of wheat in Armenia, 
     because the trains in Georgia weren't running, we obtained 
     money to buy kerosene and diesel fuel to trade to the 
     Armenian farmers for wheat.
       [[Page S519]] An airlift of planes chartered by the United 
     States government has brought in medicine, flour, and other 
     necessities of life, purchased by the government or donated 
     by private organizations in the U.S. Thanks largely to the 
     lobbying efforts of the Armenian-American community, a winter 
     airlift brought in over eighty thousand kerosene heaters, and 
     trains of tank cars brought thousands of tons of kerosene to 
     Armenia, so schools and homes of the elderly, one-parent 
     families, and other people sitting at home in the cold could 
     have heat.
       The winter of 1992-93 all the schools closed in Armenia. It 
     was too cold to study. This winter was different. In February 
     I visited a working class school in the Charbakh district 
     outside Yerevan. You could see through a crack in the wall 
     caused by the 1988 earthquake. The temperature in the 
     hallways was freezing, and the students and teachers wore 
     winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens inside but because of 
     the heaters and kerosene we and a French organization named 
     Forum had furnished, classes were going on, and students were 
     learning. With great pride, they sang Armenian songs and 
     recited Armenian poetry for me. So I can tell you first hand 
     that our help is getting there, and is getting to the people 
     who need it most.
       But humanitarian aid, though it takes much of our time and 
     efforts, is only a temporary measure, not a long-term answer. 
     The real answer lies in finding an end to the conflict in 
                             ending the war

       Helping the parties to find an end to the war is the most 
     important, and the most difficult, of our objectives. Without 
     peace--and I mean a just peace--there cannot be any end to 
     economic isolation, no development, no trade. The war is 
     taking the resources of Armenia, and the lives of some of its 
     best young men. I see the new graves in the cemeteries, the 
     faces in the newspapers, the memorial shrines in the schools. 
     The war is a very heavy burden for the people of Armenia, 
     Azerbaijan, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
       Some people think that the war could be ended by a few 
     telephone calls. I wish it were so simple, Hatred and 
     distrust have built up over the decades, and have often been 
     used by politicians for their own purposes. It may take a 
     long time for the hatred to die down, and the people of 
     Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan will have to live 
     again as neighbors.
       Our job is to encourage and facilitate an end to the 
     fighting, and then to get the participants to sit down 
     together, talking instead of shooting. We believe the best 
     way to do this is through the international efforts of the 
     so-called ``Minsk Group'' of the Conference on Security and 
     Cooperation in Europe, a process which includes all the 
     countries in the region, except Iran, and which allows the 
     people of Nagorno-Karabakh to be heard. The Russian 
     Government is also working to achieve a settlement. We are 
     trying to encourage the Russians to combine their efforts 
     with those of the CSCE.
       It is difficult and frustrating process. At this point, the 
     leaders of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh say they want to 
     talk. But so far the kind of compromise which would end the 
     fighting and launch a negotiating process has been elusive. 
     We are trying, step by step, to find common ground and build 
     trust. It will demand compromise from both sides. The 
     compromises may be painful. But the only alternative to 
     compromise is an endless war. I don't believe that anyone in 
     Armenia wants to see the children of the next generation 
     fighting the same endless war.


       Our third objective is to help Armenia build a durable 
     democracy and a working free market. The government of 
     President Ter-Petrossian is now one of only two governments 
     in the former Soviet Union not headed by a former Communist. 
     Armenia has a multi-party system and an active free press. 
     Despite great criticism, an independent Armenia is stubbornly 
     following the course of market reforms and independent 
     foreign policy. Armenia has the potential to remain a 
     democratic and truly independent state.
       What Armenia needs is the experience of democracy and a 
     free market, and the training to make it work. This is why 
     the American University of Armenia is so important.
       We know that no single Western form of government or 
     economic life can simply be copied in Armenia. America and 
     Armenia have different histories and different traditions. 
     But many Armenian members of parliament and members of the 
     government have asked us for help. They want to learn from 
     our experience, take note of our successes, try to avoid our 
                              peace corps

       Today we have 25 Peace Corps Volunteers in Armenia, 16 
     teaching English in villages and towns, and 9 experienced 
     small business advisers. They've spent two winters there, 
     sharing the hardships of the local people. I'm very proud of 
     these young, and some not so young, men and women, who are 
     helping share our American know-how in Armenia.

                        farmers and agriculture

       We have brought American farmers and agricultural experts 
     to Armenia to help establish an extension service, similar to 
     our own, for the farmers of Armenia. And we have provided new 
     varieties of wheat seed both to replenish stocks and to 
     improve yields. One example of what they did: in Soviet 
     times, combine opertors were given quotas of acres to 
     harvest, regardless of how much wheat they actually 
     harvested. Our extension agents shared their experience of 
     how to use their harvesters to get the maximum amount of 
     grain, with the least waste.

                         educational exchanges

       We are working to give more Armenian students and 
     professionals the chance to study in America, so they can 
     take their new experiences back to Armenia and help rebuild 
     the country. We have open competitions in Yerevan for 
     Fulbright scholarships and other exchange programs. Under the 
     Fulbright program, leading scholars from Yerevan State 
     University will be teaching and doing research in the United 
     States, and Armenian scholars are working at the State 
     University. This year we will send over 100 Armenian 
     professionals for specialized short courses and workshops in 
     the U.S.
       Today thirty-four high school students from Armenia, chosen 
     by an open competition from among 1500 applicants, are 
     studying at high schools all over the United States. Each one 
     is making Americans aware of the new realities in Armenia. 
     Each will return with an expanded understanding of the U.S., 
     and, I hope, with useful knowledge that can help Armenia.

                               eco sphere

       We are also providing assistance to privatize Armenia's 
     urban housing stock and to improve a range of Armenia's 
     energy systems. For example, U.S. legal advisors have helped 
     draft the first land use code and condominium legislation. We 
     have initiated successful weatherization/winterization trials 
     in schools and hospitals and we are providing critical 
     equipment and technology both to conserve energy in power 
     plants and industry and to develop new sources of hydro, coal 
     and oil energy.
       In the two years since the Embassy opened, we've learned a 
     lot. We've learned that some people, and some institutions, 
     are resistant to change and even find it threatening. The old 
     menatlity, of waiting for someone at the top to make a 
     decision, is hard to change. We've learned that it's 
     sometimes better to start entirely new institutions than to 
     try to reform old ones, and that it's often best to target 
     the younger people and professionals, who are the most open 
     to change, and the most important resource for the future. 
     Most of USAID assistance targets 23-35 year old 
     professionals. That is one reason why, on many projects, 
     we've chosen to work with the American University of Armenia.
                   the american university of armenia

       To me, the American University of Armenia exemplifies what 
     is best about Armenian education. When you walk in the doors 
     of the American University, you feel a sense of energy, of 
     purpose. When you look in the computer lab, and see the 
     students at work stations, you could be in any American 
     University. But I think there are very few universities in 
     the United States where the students work with such 
     dedication and enthusiasm. There is another difference--when 
     you talk to the students, you learn they are not there just 
     for themselves, they are there because they want to make 
     Armenia a better place to live for future generations.
       We are working together with the University on a number of 
     projects. The U.S. Information Agency opened its library, the 
     first in the Caucasus, alongside the library of the 
     University. This library is open to the whole community, not 
     just AUA students, and serves students and teachers from 
     Yerevan State University and schools all over Yerevan.

                           junior achievement

       USIA, the Peace Corps and the AUA worked together to launch 
     the Junior Achievement Program in Armenia. Today high school 
     students in Yerevan are learning practical business and 
     economics by running their own small businesses.


       USAID is working with the University and the Ministry of 
     Economy to establish Armenia's first economic research 
     center, ``CEPRA'', which represents a watershed in 
     university-government collaboration in finding answers to the 
     country's most pressing macroeconomic problems. The 
     establishment of this innovative government center within the 
     University is a testament to the flexibility and foresight of 
     AUA's leadership in applying its intellectual resources to 
     the current economic situation.

                             radio station
       Students learn more than just theory at AUA. One group of 
     recent AUA graduates is trying to open the first independent 
     radio station in Armenia. A second group has started a 
     newspaper. A third group has started a publishing house, and 
     translated and published the first market economics textbook 
     in Armenian for the Junior Achievement Program.
       A team organized by the Center for Business Research and 
     Development at AUA, with support from the Embassy, has 
     translated into Armenian two books on business management, 
     and is at work translating a university economics textbook 
     that will be the standard text for Armenian universities.
       While we work closely with AUA, I should emphasize that we 
     are not ignoring the State University. This year, for the 
     first time, two Fulbright lecturers will be teaching jointly 
     [[Page S520]] at the State University and at AUA, in the 
     areas of American history and law. We are sponsoring a 
     program with the University of Colorado to help reshape the 
     economics curriculum at the State University. And several 
     scholars from the State University will receive Fulbright 
     fellowships to do research in the United States. In our view, 
     AUA and the State University are partners, not rivals.
       To put it simply, AUA is a model of how the Armenian 
     Government, the American Government, and the Armenian-
     American community are all working together, preparing 
     Armenia for the future, and looking together for solutions to 
     Armenia's problems. Some people say that a pessimist is an 
     optimist who has spent the winter in Armenia. But I have 
     spent the winter in Armenia, and I remain an optimist. When I 
     visit the American University, I know that there is hope for 
     the future. The future of Armenia is the hands and minds of 
     today's students.


       In my first year in Armenia, I developed an even deeper 
     respect for the Armenian people. Against terrible adversity, 
     against heavy odds they have kept their faith, their 
     language, their culture and their pride intact. What would 
     happen if, in America, we had to endure the conditions they 
     endure; virtually no light, no heat, no gas, no electricity? 
     The Armenian people have borne this stoically for four 
       At the beginning of my remarks, I mentioned the First 
     Republic of Armenia. You all know how it ended after roughly 
     two years--divided within, fighting with neighboring 
     Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, beset by hunger and cold, 
     warring with Turkey, without substantial help from the West, 
     it was invaded by the Red Army, lost its independence, and 
     became part of the Soviet Empire.
       This new Armenian Republic has now lasted longer than the 
     first Republic. Today's Armenia is also beset by many 
     problems; petroleum and transportation embargoes, the same 
     geographic dilemma, and again conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
       What is different now is that Armenia is a member of the 
     United Nations and the CSCE, a full member in the family of 
     democratic nations. Today, there are international mechanisms 
     for helping resolve conflicts, and for helping newborn 
     countries to get on their feet. Today there is a successful 
     and vigorous Armenian diaspora especially in the U.S. which 
     is actively involved in supporting the reborn Armenian 
     republic. These are now available to the Armenian Republic, 
     and Armenia is using them.
       But in the end, what can guarantee the independence of 
     Armenia? In the 1930's, the great Armenian poet Charents 
     wrote an acrostic into one of his poems--the second letter of 
     each line spelled out, ``Oh Armenian people, your only 
     salvation is in your united strength.'' For these words 
     Charents was expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union and died 
     in prison. But what Charents said then is still true today. 
     Ultimately, it is the Armenian people themselves, working 
     together, who can guarantee their independence.
       Armenia cannot survive in economic or political isolation. 
     For Armenia to be a successful member of the community of 
     nations, it will have to develop all of its resources. It 
     must and will find ways to end the isolation, to establish 
     new political and economic links with its neighbors, to 
     establish connections with the rest of the world. Armenia has 
     much to offer the world--a unique culture, a rich history, 
     and above all an abundance of talented people--especially 
     young people--who want to make a mark on the future. I hope 
     and believe they will continue to enrich world culture and to 
     contribute to the welfare of the reborn Armenian