Armenia: At the Crossroads
Armenia: At the Crossroads


by David Zenian

During the recent Azerbaijani and Soviet attacks on Armenia, President Levon Ter-Petrossian was asked what the Diaspora could do to support Armenia. His response was clear: "Exert pressure on world public opinion."

The President did not elaborate, but keeping the public informed - here in the United States and the world - has been one of the main tasks of the Washington based Armenian Information Service of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU-AIS).

AGBU-AIS has not only established the link between Armenian Television and Cable News Network, it has also placed Yerevan television anchorman Robert Mavisakalian in the coveted CNN International Professional Program.

The ten-week internship program which opens at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, June 3rd, begins with a week long orientation into the entire CNN system. This includes meetings with top level producers, an introduction into CNN's operations and technical facilities, the workings of the National and International Assignments Desks, and special seminars on topics such as ratings in America and the legal aspects of American broadcast journalism.

Participants then begin individualized programs in their own specialties, with the opportunity to become involved in all phases of CNN's 24 hour production. They also receive hands on experience in the CNN newsroom.

In addition, through a series of "brown bag" lunches with political, business and professional leaders in the Atlanta area, participants are briefed on major issues confronting the United States and the world today.

Mavisakalian will join a group of television journalists from Poland, Lithuania, Jordan, China, South Africa, and a number of other countries.

Apprehensive of the important role the media plays in shaping international public opinion, the AGBU-AIS went into first gear minutes after the initial telephone call from Yerevan on April 30 reporting the start of what snowballed into a massive Soviet military campaign against Armenian villages in and around Nagorno Karabagh.

Within hours of the first attack, AGBU-AIS arranged a live satellite telephone interview on CNN World Report with Yerevan Television anchorman Robert Mavisakalian.

The three-minute interview gave Armenia a chance to express its own views without censorship or editorial restrictions.

Mavisakalian spoke freely about the Azerbaijani attacks and the killing of Armenians in Gedashen and Mardunashen. He also "read" sections of the Armenian Parliament's official declaration on the conflict.

A few days later, AGBU-AIS arranged a second CNN World Report interview with Mavisakalian - giving Armenia another opportunity to express its opinion on the ongoing crisis and Soviet military action.

The CNN World Report is seen by millions of people in the United States, Latin America, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East.

Originally published in the June 1991 ​issue of AGBU Magazine. Archived content may appear distorted on your screen. end character

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AGBU Magazine is one of the most widely circulated English language Armenian magazines in the world, available in print and digital format. Each issue delivers insights and perspective on subjects and themes relating to the Armenian world, accompanied by original photography, exclusive high-profile interviews, fun facts and more.