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Mаry Mamyan

Armenian Town Council Auctions Dry, Fallow Lands in Hope of Keeping Residents in Border Towns

The Bagratashen town council in recent months has been auctioning dry and fallow lands in hope of keeping residents from leaving. Though it's difficult and expensive to turn such land into tillage, the town council is trying to expand arable lands in the border town so that people have a stake in cultivating the land and stay in the village.

"We take people, we ask them, we say: sow your wheat this time; this year it won't grow, but next year it will," said Bagratashen's town mayor, Arkadi Makyan. "We convince those people: this piece [of land] is good; this other one is good; by pleading, we give them — like a [potential bride] at home for whom [the family] wants to find a husband."

About a month ago, 10 lots of land were auctioned off and privatized this way. At the last auction on March 19, one lot with 2 units of land were put up for sale. The town mayor assures that in the first place they have an interest for those lands to be sold and for people not to be cut off from working the land. 

Not many bids are placed at auctions, though, according to the town mayor, announcements are posted on the village's information boards. This time there were two people present at the auction: Poghos Bakhshyan and Sargis Antonyan. According to Article 67 of the Land Code, the starting bid can't be less than 50% of the cadastral value of the land. Thus, the initial bid for the land was set at 120,000 AMD. At first, Bakhshyan offered 6,000 AMD, then the other bidder raised him by 12,000 AMD. The bidding closed at 132,000 AMD paid by Antonyan. The 6,000 AMD (5% of the starting bid) Bakhshyan paid will be returned to him.

Sevak Kirakosyan, who works for the town council and compiled the protocol for the auction, explained that this time they held a repeat auction. The day before the auction, the deed of one of the bidders was lost, which meant they had to postpone the auction. He shows a copy of the deed, adding that during this time the number of participants didn't change. 

At the end of the auction, there isn't a debate or disagreement between the "winner" and the "loser" — as they say, "We're people of the same village; everyone knows each other. Why should they be upset?"

Town mayor Arkadi Makyan says there isn't always a need for an auction. "For example, if someone wants to place a carriage, about 100 meters of area is needed, a certificate of occupancy is drawn up and given to him," he says. 

The revenue from the auctions is added to the town budget, with which the town council tries to tend to the town's priorities. Currently, the town council intends to purchase a tractor for the town. There is also a separate program to develop small- and medium-sized businesses in Bagratashen, in which the youth of the town particularly have an interest. 


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