Tag Archives: investment in nagorno-karabagh

Building a kindergarten in Moshatagh

The organization ONEArmenia is raising funds to build a kindergarten in the village of Moshatagh, which is located in the Kashatagh region of Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh). The building’s structure actually exists, the construction just needs to be completed.

There are no excuses for kids to go without proper schools anywhere in Armenia or Artsakh, period. Although such a project should have been realized years ago, it’s definitely not too late to do it now. The organization has already collected close to $9,000 to meet its goal, and the campaign to raise funds ends on November 3. As of this writing the project is 46 percent funded. This is a good cause; it’s an investment in Armenia’s future–Armenia’s children. Please contribute.

Many babies are the future

I just read a poignant photo essay about the maternity drive in Nagorno-Karabagh published by the New York Times called The National Womb.

The NK government is encouraging young families to have babies by giving them incremental sums of money for each additional child they rear. After the sixth child has been born the family is given a home. Unfortunately there is no other way to keep the population there somewhat steady. As in Armenia, the youth are emigrating in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Lucrative business ventures to employ people are few there.

I was in Nagorno-Karabagh in July and couldn’t help but notice that areas of the countryside seemed bare of residents. The capital Stepanakert is a lively city but Shushi, which is far more picturesque, still seems neglected, despite all the work being done there to repair the infrastructure and open new hotels to attract visitors.

The entire region needs settlers and money so that society can advance. Compared with Armenia corruption is apparently very low, so I don’t understand why the willingness to invest in Nagorno-Karabagh more aggressively is not there. Perhaps daily flights between Yerevan and Stepanakert, hopefully to start next year, will entice that much-needed investment.

In the meantime, many babies are needed. But the question as to whether the parents of those families will be able to consistently provide remains to be answered.

Incidentally, I wanted to mention an excellent article published by Hetq last June  called On That Side of the World about life in Kashatagh, where there are no normal roads or even electricity, and where Armenians who sacrificed life in civilization choose to survive. I cannot imagine living without electricity and I don’t understand how they do it. The heartbreaking thing is that no one cares, not the governments of Armenia or Nagorno-Karabagh, and not the Armenian Diaspora. They just linger there, waiting for someone to pay attention to them, waiting for something to change that never does.

Armenian Big Shots Aren’t Donating This Year

Hetq recently reported that several business tycoons/oligarchs have not donated to the Hayastan All-Armenia Fund this year. The money is slated to go towards restructuring projects in Shushi, located in Nagorno-Karabagh. Apparently Armenia’s wealthiest don’t care about rejuvenating  their country anymore.

Here’s what the article revealed:

At a press conference today, All Armenia Fund Director Ara Vardanyan disclosed the names of some famous Armenian politicians who did, or did not contribute, to this year’s Telethon. Mr. Vardanyan noted that former RoA President Robert Kocharyan, as in years past, had pledged an amount equal to one month of his salary. He failed to note the amount, however. The former president’s son, Sedrak Kocharyan, is said to have donated 1 million AMD.

Regarding the contribution made by current RoA President Serzh Sargsyan, Mr. Vardanyan noted that the amount was included in the $8,100 pledged by the presidential staff office. Again, Mr. Vardanyan stated that he didn’t know the exact amount. He did say that Sashik Sargsyan, the president’s brother, had not made a pledge this year.

Mr. Vardanyan stated that there was no pledge from businessman Gagik Tsarukyan this year. He had pledged $2 million in 2008. “I haven’t talked to Mr. Tsarukyan yet, so there’s sa chance he will make a donation as well,” Mr. Vardanyan noted.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the RoA’s first president was also noted as not having made a pledge to this year’s Telethon.

Um, former Armenian president Robert Kocharian is from Karabagh, and as anyone who follows Armenian politics knows he was the president of the self-declared independent republic in the 1990s. He is known to have a stake in Vivacell, which is likely the most popular cellular telecommunications provider in Armenia. His son is the reputed exclusive importer of Toyota passenger vehicles–virtually all police cars cruising Armenia’s roads have been upgraded to Corollas. He also purportedly is the official reseller of Nokia mobile devices, and they don’t come cheap. Kocharian senior is officially making an estimated 320,000 dram ($831) monthly salary, which is the amount he donated. How generous of him.

Presdient Sarkisian as everyone knows is also from Karabagh, and he has considerable business ventures of his own, as do his brothers not only in Armenia but in the US as well. You’d think they would have a significant sum of money to donate towards rebuilding Shushi, which is so sacred to Armenians as a cultural center. Obviously not.

Levon Ter-Petrossian led the Karabagh Committee in the late 1980s and started the movement for self-determination of Armenians living there. As a result he was elected the first president of the Armenian republic. Why the hell isn’t he donating anything?

Armenia’s most user-friendly and congenial oligarch Gagik Tsarukian, who owns everything bearing the “Multi” name from sour cream to cement, has been investing in Bulgaria of all places. Seems like he’s making preparations for the worst case scenario by diversifying his capital, whatever he thinks that is.

RFE/RL also revealed some interesting information in an article that was published on Wednesday. It had me fuming after I finished reading it. It shows how cheap, how utterly unpatriotic these oligarchs are.

I can’t believe for a second that the world financial crisis is to blame for their refraining from making generous donations. The crisis in the Armenian financial sector has been played up to the hilt. Along with the $1.6 billion cash influx in emergency loans is a significant rise in luxury vehicles, swanky restaurants and yes, new construction projects for “elite” apartment buildings.

These guys have plenty of cash. Why do they refuse to build up Shushi? It’s on historic Armenian land, and Armenians lost thousands of lives to call it their own. Shushi as anyone who has traveled there knows is in a pitiful state, with no industry, poor infrastructure and no job opportunities. Less than 5,000 people are estimated to be living there now.  What will $15.8 million in donations really accomplish there?

Telethon Raises $15.8 Million

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?