CRANSTON, RI – On April 24, 2023, Rhode Island’s Cranston City Council issued a proclamation establishing a Friendship City between Cranston and Stepanakert, Republic of Artsakh. This Friendship City is just one of many initiatives of the ANC of Rhode Island, which has engaged federal, state and city governments to advance the Armenian Cause for decades. In fact, the Rhode Island House of Representatives was the first government body in the world to officially recognize Artsakh in 2012.
“We are extremely proud of the work that the ANC of Rhode Island, together with Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins, did to secure this Friendship City,” said ANC of Rhode Island chair Steve Elmasian.
The Cranston/Stepanakert Friendship City, which was spearheaded by the ANC of Rhode Island, will help create a relationship between the people of Cranston and the indigenous Armenians of Stepanakert in the Republic of Artsakh, bridging the two communities together in an effort to foster cooperation. This is the second Friendship City to be secured in the Eastern Region this year. Last month, a Friendship City was established between Granite City, Illinois and the border village of Ashan in the Republic of Artsakh—an initiative of the ANC of Southern Illinois.
The newest Friendship City establishment comes on the heels of the ANC of Rhode Island’s 20th annual flag raising in Cranston in commemoration of April 24. Cranston is Rhode Island’s second largest city and home to the largest Armenian population in the state.
Stepanakert, the capital of the Republic of Artsakh, has been under attack since 2020. Most recently, the people of Stepanakert have been living under duress and in dire conditions due to the effects of Azerbaijan’s deadly blockade, which has gone on for over 160 days. The current blockade has limited life-supporting essentials such as food, medicine and electricity, igniting a humanitarian crisis of significant proportions.
“Our activists showed the people of Artsakh and the world that the Diaspora will not stop their tireless fight to bring justice to the Armenian nation and secure the future of the people of Artsakh. It starts in Cranston, but it definitely doesn’t end there. Rhode Island and the broader Eastern Region stand in solidarity with Artsakh today and always,” concluded Elmasian.