Karabagh President Visits US Ahead of Telethon

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During the interview, Sahakian stressed that what matters most to the government of Karabagh is to play a role in the decisions that will shape its fate. As for the recent agreement that the Azerbaijan and Armenian governments signed in Moscow, he said he was hopeful, but without Karabagh’s involvement, the situation would not be easily resolved.

Sahakian praised the co-chairs of the Minsk group, suggesting that they should get the credit for maintaining the peace in Karabagh.

He also addressed a border violation incident on November 16, the day after he left Karabagh for this most recent trip to the US. The attack was repelled by Karabagh forces and one Azeri soldier was killed as a result.

“Before I left, I met with the border battalions and presented medals to those in charge. All who try to deprive us of the right to work and live can meet the same fate as the attacker,” he said.

Sahakian said that the fate of Karabagh could not be compared to other contested, newly-independent states, such as Kosovo and Ossetia. “Artsakh has unique qualities that are not comparable to other countries.”

He added that clearly, the number of legal countries in the world was increasing. “The United Nations did not have as many members when it was formed,” Sahakian noted.

When asked about the new government in the US, Sahakian said, “I’ve congratulated Mr. Obama in writing. I expressed the hope that ties will be established between our two countries.”

He added, “We think Artsakh is one of the countries that values human rights and democracy. The proof is that all the elections in Karabagh have been praised by other nations. Those are the bases for our desire to have closer relations with the US.”

He said that the Karabagh government also expects positive moves by the incoming US administration with regard to the Genocide, as well as aid to Armenia.

As for the “Football Diplomacy” between Armenia and Turkey, he said that he was always in favor of discussions, as opposed to armed conflict. Turkey, he added, needs to own up to the Genocide in order to gain the moral high ground in the region as well as internationally.

Sahakian said that he is focusing on the country’s economy and is trying to create paths to help people there. He also referred to the recent mass wedding ceremony in which 750 couples got married. Sahakian noted that 3,000 couples had married in Karabagh during the current calendar year and that the number of births had already surpassed last year’s by 200. Also, he said, the government was providing mortgages. All these steps, he said, were taken with the aim of repopulating the region.

The agrarian nature of the economy of Artsakh was stressed, suggesting that work was being advanced to increase the productivity of farming per hectare. In addition, Sahakian noted, an agricultural college has been founded in Stepanakert.

He also stressed the country’s dedication to helping veterans and families of veterans of the war for Karabagh’s independence. Sahakian praised Armenia Fund USA for its efforts in Armenia, noting that they helped heal the veterans’ wounds and helped improve the economy.

“We rate highly their involvement and their humanitarian work,” Sahakian said.

After the visit to the Mirror-Spectator, Sahakian visited the Hairenik Building and met with the Armenian Weekly staff as well as representatives of other organizations based there.

In the afternoon, Sahakian met with Alan Berger, editorial writer of the Boston Globeand later met with the Board of Directors of the Armenian Assembly of America at the Sheraton Commander Hotel.

At night, the Armenian Assembly Regional Committee invited the president to meet with their members at a reception held at the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington. Anthony Barsamian and Lu Ann Ohanian introduced Sahakian to those gathered.

At night, members of Knights of Vartan and Armenia Fund USA had a private dinner with the president and his entourage at Grill 23 Restaurant in Boston.

— Alin K. Gregorian

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