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Mаry Mamyan

In the Tavoush Village of Achadjour Owning Land Has Lost its “Shine”

Residents of Achadjour describe their village as prosperous, pointing to the high prices that houses go for and the low numbers of those leaving for greener shores.

The village lies in Armenia’s northeastern province of Tavoush, and is situated a few kilometers from the Azerbaijani border.

Nevertheless, their main source of revenue remains money transfers from friends and relatives abroad.

Every year, some 1,200 souls leave for seasonal work outside Armenia and return at the start of winter. They say the local water and earth is what draws them back from Russia.

Kamo Ghaltakhchyan

Kamo Ghaltakhchyan, the present mayor of Achadjour, has returned after residing in Russia for many years. He’s been at the job since December and the garbage issue was his main priority.

For years on end, there was no trash collection and rubbish was simply dumped here and there. Even the local sports field had been used as a dump before being cleaned and improved.

Ghaltakhchyan says that a few pious individuals have promised to help the village resolve its major problems, at least those in the center of the community, like the mayor’s office and cultural center.

The mayor is proud of the fact that Achadjour has spawned many prominent businesspeople, intellectuals and political leaders, and points out that there are two native sons now serving in the Armenian parliament – Khachatour Kokobelyan and Levon Martirosyan.

When asked how this translates into benefits for the village, Ghaltakhchyan says that the MPs try to help out in whatever way they can.

The mayor wants to get businessmen born in the village to back the construction of an events hall that residents can use for free. He says that with a population of some 4,600 (1,078 families) the need for such a hall for various ceremonies is great.

The drinking water issue in the village hasn’t been completely solved and water for irrigation doesn’t exist even though the need does. Agriculture isn’t that developed in the area and this is the reason why a water system was never built even during the Soviet era.

The mayor predicts that in ten years the land will be centralized in the hands of ten individuals because most residents have given up and are selling their property. “It’s not like before when the land clothed and fed us. That enthusiasm now longer exists,” he said.

There are few fruit orchards in the village and those growing grapes are also few in number. Residents argue that if a small factory were to be built where villagers could sell their fruits and berries it would be a win-win situation. The village is surrounded by forests and their bounty is almost inexhaustible.

At the mayor’s office I was told that those participating in land auctions do so for construction purposes and that most of the money comes from overseas remittances. But the winner of the last land auction said he wanted the land for grape growing.

Only two participated at this auction and both were locals.


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