Serzh Sargsyan

Republic of Armenia President Serzh Sargsyan, center left, visits with locals while touring the building dedicated to the Consulate General of Republic of Armenia in Glendale Sunday, September 25, 2011. (Photo by Alex Collins)

The president of Armenia on Sunday helped christen his nation’s new consulate in Glendale, drawing hundreds of onlookers.

At the grand-opening ceremony for the consulate, which moved from its Glenoaks Boulevard location to 346 N. Central Ave., Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan called on members of the Diaspora to visit their homeland “regardless of whether they like our government or not.”

“One thing is eternal, and it’s your fatherland,” he said.

Roughly a dozen people were at the event to protest Sargsyan’s government, police said, but no incidents were reported.

The Armenian flag was raised in Sargsyan’s honor as residents, Boy Scouts and schoolchildren looked on from across the street. Glendale and Los Angeles city officials mingled in the consulate’s courtyard and sipped champagne.

“This is a double celebration for us,” Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian said, referring to the president’s visit and new consulate location. “This is a very distinguished presence right on Central, right in the heart of downtown.”

Mayor Laura Friedman also expressed gratitude for the contributions Armenian residents have made in politics, business, education and the arts.

“We are a far richer community due to the presence of so many Armenians in Glendale,” she said. “As the mayor of the city that boasts one of the largest populations of Armenians outside the Republic of Armenia, I’m very, very proud.”

Speaking through a translator, Sargsyan thanked the United States “for hosting our people in times that were very difficult for us, for allowing them to settle and develop and reach prosperity here.”