Welcome to the 24th year of the Armenian Bar Association.
It is a privilege to serve as the Chairman of this great organization.
I fondly remember the first time I attended an Armenian Bar Conference, more than 20 years ago in Washington, D.C. At every meeting since, I have experienced the warmth, support and fellowship that are the benchmarks of our Association.
This year, as we rededicate ourselves to the vision of inclusiveness of our founder, the Honorable Raffi K. Hovannisian, we encourage former members and new generations of lawyers, judges, and law students to join us as we together go forward. While we continue to gain our momentum, we should take stock of where it all began. We shall soon begin an ambitious oral history and online scrapbook project to ensure that the voices and events of the past are chronicled with the likes of our esteemed Chairman Emeritus, Vicken I. Simonian, and by the first Chairman of our Association in 1989-1990, the inimitable David Balabanian, whose words to all of us at our 23rd Annual Conference and Banquet in May 2012, still echo in our minds, vibrate in our hearts, and reverberate in our souls: “The Armenian Bar Association has certainly found its soul.”
The foregoing reflection is more than mere words by a great Armenian-American lawyer. It is an assessment by our first Chairman of the great strides we have made, led by the tireless efforts of my predecessor, our Chairman Ex-Officio, Edvin Minassian. But we have much more work ahead than behind us. Noble causes in advancing the rule of law in Armenia, from respect for human and civil rights, the protection of the environment, to the entitlement to fair and transparent elections, still beckon.
That which has been accomplished by previous Chairs, Boards, and many members and supporters who make up the Armenian Bar Association family, is ours not only to preserve and maintain, but also to expand and advance. Our task is to achieve progress with an aim towards perfection of the rule of law in all of its forms, forums and shades, both in the Diaspora and in Armenia.
As the incoming Chairman, I have been asked whether I have the requisite time to take on the primary leadership role of this organization. My answer is a simple “Yes.” I say so because the Armenian Bar has some of the best, brightest, and most committed Board members and officers guiding the way. Each member of the Board and of our committees dedicates countless hours organizing and volunteering at legal clinics, conferences, continuing education, and pro bono programs. I believe that each member of the Board is a leader in our community and that, by working together, we will add another successful chapter to our proud and rewarding history.
We have come far and we are ready to go farther still. Our efforts are but a small sacrifice to achieve our dreams and those of our parents and our ancestors. Starting in July of 2012 and in future months, as Chairman of the Armenian Bar, I will embark on a journey to the various Armenian communities, to meet with organizational and civic leaders and to discuss the ways in which our Association may be of service.
We will speak for people who cannot speak for themselves. We will strive to make our voice travel farther and more effectively than it has before. The way to accomplish our mission of protecting the rights of Armenians, wherever they may be, requires us to adhere to the following principle: To reach the destination of any journey we undertake, we must not hold back on our resources. If we are to continue to stand for ourselves and others, we must be prepared to stand solitary and resolute like a tree; and, if we are to fall or falter along the way, we must be ready to spring up again as one Association, united, to work again for those too weak or too meek to fend themselves.
Join us in maintaining the honor and integrity of the legal profession, wherever each of us calls home; to promote and maintain the rule of law in Armenia; to further equal opportunity and justice for our communities; to advance and preserve the integrity of the lawyers and the judiciary in Armenia; and to promote the legal education and general understanding of the legal system through pro bono clinics and town hall meetings, one community after another.
To accomplish these objectives, I challenge each of us, including myself, to create an environment of dialog and to enhance the relationship between the Armenian Bar Association and the churches, schools and including but not limited to all cultural and professional groups, based on mutual respect and understanding and on common cause.
Historically, there has been a manipulation in certain parts of the world of what justice is and who is entitled to receive it. Justice and equality have been hard fought for by our ancestors, and they continue to be hard fought for by Armenians to this day. As educated and empowered people with the ability to make change, it is our responsibility to advocate for the deliverance of justice in tangible ways to those for whom these promises have yet to be realized.
I am excited to work with a dynamic group of individuals who comprise our officers and board members and am confident that, with their considerable talents and dedication, and with the support of our members, we will achieve our goals.
Please join us in opening doors and building bridges, as we continue championing fundamental rights for the ones who need and deserve them most.
Garo B. Ghazarian,
Armenian Bar Association
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