AGBU President Berge Setrakian Speaks at the American University of Armenia: Priorities, Opportunities, and Challenges for Armenians

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On January 30, 2015, the American University of Armenia (AUA) welcomed Berge Setrakian, the President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and member of AUA’s Board of Trustees, for a talk on “Priorities, Opportunities, and Challenges for Armenians.”

AUA President Armen Der Kiureghian introduced the speaker and announced that Mr. Setrakian has established an endowment in memory of his father, Hmayak Setrakian, the income of which will go towards AUA Faculty Research Awards and Faculty Teaching Excellence Prizes in the coming years. He went on to say that “AGBU is one of the three founding organizations of the university and has continuously provided financial support for our programs and students. Our entire community is anxious to hear the views of the president of AGBU. We are grateful to AGBU and warmly welcome President Setrakian to give his remarks.”

Mr. Setrakian covered many topics throughout his speech, touching on the geopolitical and socioeconomic challenges that Armenia is facing. He cited national security, increased emigration, and scarcity of jobs as some of the biggest issues Armenia is facing today.

During his speech, Mr. Setrakian spoke to the youth of Armenia, urging them to be an active part of the change that is happening within the country. “You are smart, you are capable, and you are the future of this country,” he said.

“Our dream is to build a strong Armenia. AUA is AGBU’s number one priority, as it is an invaluable institution that is shaping the youth of the country,” stated Mr. Setrakian. He went on to say that, “AUA stands for principles. It stands for western values. It stands for human rights. It stands for the fight against corruption. It stands for good governance. AGBU considers AUA one of the best programs that it could support.”

The talk was followed by an active Q&A session in which AUA alumni, students, faculty, and guests debated various topics such as the role of the Armenian diaspora, what the upcoming centennial of the Armenian Genocide means for the Armenian community, and AGBU’s mission in developing a “road map” for the future of Armenia.

Berge Setrakian is the seventh President of the AGBU, the world’s largest pan-Armenian organization. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Setrakian has been an active, lifelong AGBU member and has held various leadership positions in the organization, becoming president in 2002. His focus is on youth who, as third or fourth generation Diasporan-Armenians, have never closely identified with their Armenian heritage. He has also extended the AGBU’s activities in Armenia and the Diaspora, focusing on new initiatives and projects. In 2011, Mr. Setrakian was awarded with the Order of Honor by the President of the Republic of Armenia for his outstanding contributions to protecting the country’s national interests, as well as his lifelong, unwavering dedication and patriotic services to Armenia.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.


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