Assemblyman Chris Holden, who represents South Pasadena, on Tuesday introduced a resolution that establishes a sister state relationship between California and the Armenian province of Syunik — the southernmost province in Armenia.
The measure, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 105, declares California’s solidarity with Syunik and will encourage and facilitate mutually beneficial educational, economic and cultural exchanges, according to a statement from Holden’s office. The resolution is joint authored by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, and coauthored by assemblymembers Lisa Calderon, Laura Friedman, Jesse Gabriel, Christina Garcia, Mike Gipson, Tom Lackey and Kevin Mullin, and state senators Bob Archuleta, Andreas Borgeas, Maria Elena Durazo and Anthony Portantino.
“For thousands of years, the state of Syunik has had profound historical and cultural significance for Armenia and the world,” Holden said. “Strengthening our relationship with the Syunik comes at a critical time as regional powers like Azerbaijan and Turkey pose a threat to its existence.”
According to Holden’s office, Syunik is one of the original provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia and is currently bordered by Artsakh (also called Nagorno-Karabakh), Azerbaijan and Iran. Syunik is home to the Armenian Stonehenge, Karahounj, that dates back to the bronze age, the Ughtasar Mountain petroglyphs that are 7,000 years old and the 9th Century Tatev Monastery that served as a center of scholastic and spiritual activity. The most populated town in the province is its capital, Kapan, with 43,000 residents.
In the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s renewed war against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani military crossed into the Republic of Armenia and moved 3.5 kilometers into Syunik Province, seizing the entirety of Sev Lake. The next day, the Azerbaijani military breached two other sections of the border and occupied more areas of Armenia. Azerbaijan’s illegal presence remains in Syunik, threatening Armenia’s sovereignty and the people who live there.
“I enthusiastically thank Assemblymember Chris Holden for initiating this resolution of paramount importance,” said Consul General of Armenia and Ambassador Armen Bairbourtian. “The establishment of a California-Syunik Sister State relationship will develop a multidimensional partnership between the U.S. State of California and the Armenian Province of Syunik. My gratitude also goes to all the state legislators supporting the resolution.”