By Alin K. Gregorian
WATERTOWN, Mass. — The prime minister of Karabagh, Ara Harutunian, and his entourage, including the charismatic Primate of Karabagh, Archbishop Pargev Mardirossian, Karabagh’s representative to the US Robert Avetisyan and policy advisor David Babayan, made a local stop at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center. The visit was one of several around the country that the group was making in advance of the annual Armenia Fund Telethon, which was scheduled to be broadcast on Thanksgiving Day.
Armenian Fund USA Chairman Raffi Festekjian showed a short film on the group’s focal point for its fundraising this year, which is the city of Shushi.
Shushi, a former capital of Armenia and one of the largest cities in the Caucasus in the 19th century, has been in ruins since the war for independence. It is going to receive increased support from the government of Karabagh also, which, according to Harutunian, is going to relocate the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Ministry of Culture and the Artsakh branch of the Armenian Agricultural University to the city in the upcoming years.
Festekjian opened the program by noting that the global economic difficulties have made life especially difficult for the rural residents of Armenia and Karabagh.
“The best way to provide a long-term solution is to make them fundamentally independent,” he said. As part of that independence, Karabagh needs improved infrastructure, including water, power lines and healthcare facilities. The next step, he said, is to develop the region’s businesses through training and micro financing.