Artsakh 2018 Viewed in Retrospect

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By Haykaram Nahapetyan

Special to the Mirror-Spectator 

STEPANAKERT – 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the Artsakh movement. Commemorations took place in the republic and across the globe. Public rallies in Stepanakert kicked off in February – chronologically matching the events of 1988, when, on February 13, the first demonstration demanding unification of Artsakh and Armenia took place in then-Soviet Nagorno Karabakh (NK). As a reminder, NK had been placed under Soviet Azerbaijani rule as an Armenian autonomous republic by an arbitrary decision of the Bolshevik dictator Stalin in July, 1921. Photo exhibitions displaying images of the 30-year-old events took the visitors back to those historic days.

In March, President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan and his delegation paid a working visit to Washington D.C., where they, inter alia, commemorated the important anniversary and held meetings on Capitol Hill, discussed urgent issues in one of DC’s think-tanks, and visited the Library of Congress and toured with Levon Avdoyan, the Armenian and Georgian desk supervisor of the library. The delegation included also Masis Mayilyan, the Minister of the Foreign Affairs, David Babayan, the deputy head of President’s administration, and parliamentarians of Artsakh’s National Assembly.

In May, 2018, the people of Artsakh celebrated the anniversary of the liberation of ancient Armenian fortress of Shushi in 1992, as well as the 100th anniversary of the first Armenian republic. Artsakhtsis also celebrated other local holidays, such as Republic Day on September 2 (that day in 1991 the local legislative body formally declared the independence of NK from Soviet Azerbaijan) and December 10, when, in conformity with Soviet laws, a people’s referendum was held to confirm the decision on independence.

In 2018, political life in the republic was active. After the resignation of State Minister (equivalent to prime minister) Arayik Harutyunyan, former Minister of Finances and lecturer at Artsakh State University Grigory Martirosyan was appointed to run the refreshed cabinet.

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Harutyunyan, however, continued to supervise the construction of hydroelectric plants of Artsakh and other development programs aiming to bring the republic even closer to the strategic goal of energy self-sufficiency. “In 40 years from now we will burn no gas, no wood or diesel in Artsakh: electricity will satisfy all needs,” Harutyunyan declared at an event dedicated to the anniversary of a major hydro-electric station.

The perspective of “going green” in Artsakh had drawn international attention even earlier. The US based PV Magazine that specializes in solar energy had run in 2017 a story titled “Nagorno-Karabakh Wants to Go Solar.” The issue became a big one for the fledgling republic, and remains in the focus of the authorities. Artsakhpress – the nation’s leading online media, reports that private households in Artsakh will soon go solar.

Another delegation from Artsakh headed by President Sahakyan visited the US West Coast in November to attend the annual pan-Armenian telethon, which traditionally takes place in Los Angeles every Thanksgiving Day. The over 11 million dollars that have been raised will fund several additional renewable energy projects, as well as agricultural facilities in both Armenian republics.

In 2018, IT remained another key priority for Artsakh. Two more Armat IT engineering labs for schoolchildren opened their doors locally, bringing the total number of this kind of school labs in the republic to 10. Reports surfaced that Artsakh is already capable of locally manufacturing drones.

“Next year, the further strengthening of the army will remain a priority. Let 2019 be a year of peace, new successes and victories for our people,” President Sahakyan said in his New Year congratulatory address. The statement reflects that physical security remains the number one issue.

Artsakh’s spiritual leader Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan in his New Year’s message reminded people that Christ was baptized at the age of 30. “Now our Republic is baptized and set to continue pursuing our just and humble cause. Let the new year bring love, solidarity and consolidation,” Archbishop Martirosyan stated in his final statement of 2018.

Topics: artsakh

(The above is based on Artsakh media sources.)

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