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Tatul Hakobyan

Arkady Ghukasyan: “I See Serious Problems in Kashatagh”

The Nagorno Karabakh President Knows What Needs To Be Done

Over the last several months there have been numerous reports in the Diaspora press about the lack of a state policy on resettlement in Nagorno Karabakh and the adjacent territories. Moreover, according to reliable information, the opposite of resettlement is currently taking place in the Kashatagh region (formerly Lachin, Kubatly and Zangelan regions), which connects Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh – settlers are leaving these territories in response to a “policy of indifference”, to put it mildly.

A few days ago former Prime Minister of Armenia Hrant Bagratyan (1993-1996) pointed out that 10,000 people – mostly refugees from Azerbaijan – had settled in Kashatagh during his tenure alone. Subsequently the number of settlers in the Kashatagh region alone reached 12,000. But today, according to the most optimistic calculations, only about 7,000 people remain in the region and the exodus continues. Two years ago an OSCE fact-finding mission (FFM) was sent to the territories surrounding Nagorno Karabakh to determine whether the authorities of Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh were carrying out a policy of resettlement there. The FFM report stated that it had seen no evidence of direct involvement by the authorities of Armenia in the territories and that some 13,000 people had settled in seven regions under the Nagorno Karabakh control, including 7,000 people in Kashatagh.

At a December 11 press conference in Stepanakert I reminded President Arkady Ghukasyan that there were only half as many people living in Kashatagh today as before. Ghukasyan denied this, though he did agree with me on another issue: “The fact is, I see serious problems in Kashatagh, and not only there. We have similar problems in all our regions. The problem is just emphasized there. We have to take the necessary steps. The numbers you have mentioned do not represent the facts,” Ghukasyan said.

He added that the National Security Council of Nagorno Karabakh had discussed issues related to the region. “It is clear to us what has to be done in order to change the situation. The problems are not only subjective but objective as well. You know the situation in that region – the roads are ruined… We should either resettle these families more densely or we should build the infrastructure necessary for normal life. Just imagine, we have a village with four families living there and we have to build a 30-kilometer-long road for that village at the cost of $5 million. I repeat, there are subjective and objective problems. We will solve the subjective problems quickly, but in order to solve the objective problems we need time to find solutions together with Armenia and the Diaspora,” Ghukasyan said.

The Nagorno Karabakh president assured those present that a number of institutions—the National Security Council, the National Assembly, and government agencies, arte dealing with the resettlement issue. He said that population growth in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is noticeable, if slow.

During the press conference President Ghukasyan was also asked about $14 million donated during the recent Hayastan All-Armenian Fund telethon. The Nagorno Karabakh president was visibly pleased with the telethon results but sure that better results are possible.

“The Diaspora potential is much greater, and we are able to find the right key, to work with the Diaspora in a targeted way, the telethon results will be much greater. The potential exists; we just need to find the time and the right people who will be able to unlock the hearts of Diaspora Armenians with these keys,” the president said.


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