GLENDALE, CA – An enthusiastic audience of about 40 Armenian-American activists crowded the ANC-WR Map Room for an informative and thought-provoking ANC Leadership Institute lecture with guest lecturer, Professor Stephan Astourian on Thursday, August 15. The lecture, titled “Geopolitics of the Caucuses in the Post Iraq War Period,” combined history with current political events and related it to the state of affairs in the Caucus region. Professor Astourian, an Assistant Adjunct Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, serves as the Executive Director of the Armenian Studies Program. Providing a brief introduction to Astourian’s many achievements and a synopsis of the topic of discussion, Ardashes Kassakhian, ANC-WR Director of Government Relations shared his personal experience with Astourian. “Professor Astourian is an exceptional individual,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege to have him as one of my mentors, he is a fascinating lecturer and professor and I’m very pleased that he has partaken in the ANC Leadership Institute.”
Astourian intrigued the audience made up mostly of community activists and leaders with his insight on politics and history, particularly of the Middle East and the Caucuses. The audience later engaged in dialogue with the Professor through an informative question and answer session where specific topics about the post Iraq war period were discussed and further analyzed.
Some of the many issues discussed included Armenia’s relations with other countries in the Caucuses and the Middle East particularly Azerbaijan. The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline issue and relations between the U.S. and the “Axis of Evil” since the Iraq war were also explored and analyzed. The discussion as a whole was intertwined with relations between the U.S., Middle East and the Caucuses in light of the Iraq war and post war period.
“Through these lectures I aspire to help people within limits of my knowledge and to think objectively,” said Astourian. “We are living in a crucial region in the world and therefore it is important to use good judgment.” The time limit for the lecture proved to be no barrier for those who had further questions as a crowd of curious minds huddled over Astourian for a few more thoughts. “I was astounded by the professor’s courage to speak of a topic that is still so controversial and often dodged by academians of his stature,” said Talar Melkonian, a 22 year old community activist present at the lecture.
Kassakhian believes that the lecture was an excellent way for people to learn more about world affairs as well as exchange ideas and create channels of communication between renowned scholars and the public. “The idea of the ANC Leadership Institute is to create a platform where activists can meet with public figures and scholars and attain the leadership qualities that the speakers carry,” he said. “It’s also a key component to creating a well-informed pool of activists who can later contribute to the community through the qualities they have acquired at these events.”