Dr. Jirair Ratevosian has worked tirelessly over the past twenty years to better the lives of Armenians, both in Armenia and in the U.S. Since 2003, Jirair has led public health initiatives and mobilized significant resources to support Armenia’s response to HIV and viral hepatitis. Between 2018 and 2022, Jirair organized landmark public health agreements between Gilead Sciences and the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Armenia for the provision of lifesaving hepatitis medications and COVID-19 treatments, for which he was awarded special government recognition in August of 2023. Jirair has also worked to foster partnerships between civil society organizations in the U.S. and Armenia for the advancement of women’s economic empowerment and human rights. As a member of the Biden-Harris Administration National Security Transition Policy Team, Jirair is proud to have played a role in securing Armenian Genocide Recognition during President Biden’s first year in office. In August of 2023, Jirair led a humanitarian fact-finding mission to Yerevan and the Armenian-Azerbedjian border, where he was able to witness the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor.
Jirair’s 5 Priorities for Armenian Issues
For over a century, the U.S. has been home to a large and growing Armenian community who have contributed to America’s economic growth, ethnic diversity, and cultural richness. The 30th Congressional District is home to the largest Armenian-American community in the country. Jirair believes the U.S. must leverage its unparalleled diplomatic and military strength to support the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and enhance America’s influence in the region. As a candidate for Congress, and elected official, Jirair would prioritize the following:
(1) Enhance U.S.-Armenia relations by supporting Armenia’s pivot to the West through the support of joint military exercises and cooperation on priority areas including technology, renewable energy, democracy promotion, and public health. Ensure US policy recognizes security and democracy in Armenia contribute to regional stability and are in the strategic interest of the United States.
(2) Triple bilateral assistance to Armenians over three years through Congressional appropriations. The United States should enhance its support for security assistance, and expand support for rural education programs, Peace Corps in Armenia, joint research and scientific collaborations opportunities between universities in Yerevan and California.
(3) Expand federal resources for Los Angeles and build Armenian American influence through the expansion of fellowships for Armenian American students to work in Congress and across the U.S. government, increase the hiring of Armenian American staffers across all branches of government and ultimately support more Armenian-Americans to run for office. Expand federal resources for Armenian American community enrichment efforts and programs in Los Angeles, and support creation of a new nonstop route between LAX and Yerevan. Further, work with research institutions and policy and diplomatic community stakeholders to grow the influence of the Congressional Armenian Caucus.
(4) Pursue long term stability and support for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) by compelling Azerbaijan to immediately lift the blockade and prioritizing emergency humanitarian assistance through the United Nations Security Council, World Health Organization and USAID. Further, a diplomatic solution should prioritize three simple principles: upholding the rights and securities of the Armenian citizens in Nagorno-Karabakh to self-govern, developing an internationally mediated peace process including leaders from the United States and the EU, and building an internationally implemented peace agreement, to guarantee the rights and security of all Nagorno-Karabakh’s citizens.
(5) Hold accountable those responsible for the perpetration of human rights abuses by halting U.S. arms and aid to Azerbaijan and Turkey, and imposing sanctions on responsible parties for violating international human rights, torture of POWs, and destruction of cultural heritage. The United States must also work to leverage accountability actions through NATO and the EU.