Yesterday, Thanksgiving in the US, the Hayastan All-Armenia Fund during its 12th annual telethon raised $15.8 million from viewers. Nearly $5.3 million of that total was donated by a Russian Armenian alone. It was a sharp 55 percent decrease from last year–$35 million was raised in 2008. On Wednesday night, the European Telethon raised $1.8 million.
I was guessing around the time the protocols were about to be signed that Armenians in the diaspora would be less likely to donate money this year. Armenian diasporan communities were by and large opposed to the protocols. It makes perfect sense that donations would be paltry compared with previous years, last year especially.
Hetq Online has more:
The 12th annual Hayastan All-Armenia Fund Telethon, dedicated to the rebuilding of Shushi, wrapped up at 8 am local Armenian time this morning. Raising a total of 15,875,043 in donations and pledges, this figure amounts to less than half the $35 million contributed last year.
Speculation that the signing of the Armenia-Turkey protocols this fall by RoA President Serzh Sargsyan would turn off many in the diaspora from contributing this year seemed to be a major concern for Telethon organizers and their fears that politics might put a damper on this year’s fundraiser seem to have been borne out, at least in part. During the 12 hour broadcast, it was often stressed that one’s political views should not prevent anyone from contributing to the welfare of the people in Artsakh and the border regions of Armenia. Perhaps too, the global economic crisis had something to do with the significant drop-off in contributions.
I am not discouning the money collected, naturally it’s a fantastic amount. The funds will supposedly go towards investment in Shushi, one of the important historic Armenian centers in Nagorno-Karabagh.
However it seems a little late –Armenians have been waiting around for too long to invest there. I’ve never found any logic in putting off reconstruction and encouraging settlements as well as an economic boost by developing industry, and putting people to work. The local mafias have also ignored Shushi for some reason–maybe it’s for the better.
Granted, with monies collected by the Fund the major highways in the independent republic were constructed, something that had to be done. The main roads outside of the capital, Stapanakert, were atrocious or even non-existent eight years ago when I first visited there.
But during my last visit to Shushi in 2006, the road leading out of the city towards Stepanakert was still in disrepair (although a year earlier the main street in the center of town was recently repaved with new curbstones laid). I don’t know what has changed since then–I am assuming nothing. Only 5,000 people were estimated to be left in Shushi a few years ago. It would be a safe bet to believe that the number of residents has dwindled even more since then. There is nothing there but bombed out buildings and a lack of opportunities. People who are not store owners travel to Stepanakert to work every day.
As I see it, the only way for people to remain in Shushi is though job creation. After you put people to work and even encourage people who left to move back, the community will rebuild, with the construction of new schools, hospitals and the like. No employment, no money being reinvested, it’s a simple rule of economics. The question is–when and how will those jobs be created?