Naira Melkumian: Let’s Pass Victorious Path Together

Naira Melkumian: Let’s Pass Victorious Path Together

9 Nov 04

$12,5 Million More Needed to Strengthen Artsakh

On November 25, “Hayastan” Pan-Armenian Fund will hold a TV marathon
in Armenia, Artsakh and Diaspora. The sums accumulated through the
marathon will be assigned for the construction of “North-South”
road that is considered a key one in Artsakh. During the recent 4
years 57,2 km of the road has been constructed, while $12,5 million
are needed for the construction of the 31,5 km left. We talked with
Naira Melkumian, executive director, about the envisaged TV marathon
and the issues connected with the Fund’s activities.

– Mrs. Melkumian, are there any innovations in this year’s marathon
that can help accumulate money?

– TV marathons are being organized since 1996. We consider this
year’s marathon as not only a mere means of accumulating money, but
also a means that contributes to the communication of the Armenians
throughout the world and see the development of Armenia and Artsakh. We
also consider TV marathon as a patriotic arrangement that can unite
the nation. Millions of Armenians who love their motherland watch the
marathon. And we want to give them an opportunity to see Armenia as
it is. We aim to tell about the best sons of our nation during the TV
marathon. We have already unfolded large-scale propaganda that includes
some stories about Armenian philanthropist. We called the program
“Golden Book” and Nerses Catholicos’ life opens this series. “Never
refuse to pay your debts to your motherland,” words said by Alexander
Mantashiants, great Armenian philanthropist, became a slogan for
us. He addressed these words to the Armenian businessmen long ago.

– After being appointed an executive director, you have visited
a number of Armenian communities. What do you expect from this
year’s marathon?

– We hope that we will manage to gather sufficient money to complete
the construction of this road. We need $12,5 million more for the
construction of “North-South” road. We hope that our philanthropists
will be more active, they are always generous. But there is one issue
that they put forward in front of our nation: they are ready to hand
out huge sums for Armenia and the developments of the recent years
testify to that. But they want each Armenian to participate in these
activities. The activities of “Hayastan” Pan-Armenian Fund are based on
the idea that each Armenian should contribute to the strengthening of
his motherland. One may give millions of dollars, some other – just a
dollar. It is very important for the establishment of the fund. This
fund contributes to the maintenance of the state, of Artsakh and
it is not accidental that we direct our main activities to Artsakh
during the recent years. Artsakh is the part of our homeland that
receives no international aid and which is considered a risky zone for
investments. But we see that our efforts are not in vain, Artsakh is
developing. If each of us understands that in order to hold Artsakh in
our hands we need to develop it economically. In that case we can say
that Artsakh is an inseparable part of Armenia and the Armenian nation.

– We are through with the 50 per cent of road construction. What did
this road give Artsakh from the economic viewpoint?

– Roads and telecommunications are the guarantee for every state’s
development. The road indeed has great impact on Artsakh’s development.
There is a new hotel at the road section leading to Gandzasar. Drmbon
mine is already operating. This road will secure Martakert region’s
development. Besides being an agricultural region Martakert has
industrial potential. Plants of agricultural good processing spring
up at the paved sections of the road. There were 70 per cent more
tourists visiting Artsakh this year. The spheres of agriculture and
tourism are directly connected with roads. Artsakh should not lag
behind Armenia because if we want more people to settle there then we
should create conditions where people will feel as real citizens. The
Fund has created 1000 work places this year.

– Previous marathons showed that the Russian-Armenians stood aloof
of the money accumulation. What will you do this year to include
Russian-Armenians in the marathon?

– Firstly, Russia’s great Armenian community has to be objectively
evaluated. There are lot of wealthy Armenians there. But we should not
forget that this is a young community and that it has close ties with
Armenia. Russian-Armenians are rather generous at handing money out
and we should not try to drag more money out. I think the numbers are
not that important in this case. We must take into consideration that
Armenians invest in Russia and help their families here in Armenia.

– Travelers often share their good impressions of Stepanakert. But
Shushi leaves a sad impression on visitors. Do you have projects for
rebuilding the town?

– Shushi’s reconstruction is a great challenge that Armenians
should take. As soon as we are able to say that there is enough
money for the road, we may turn to Artsakh regions. I think Shushi
will be a priority in that case. The Board of the Trustees takes
our projects of strategic importance into consideration and I hope
that we’ll look forward to new programs from May. We are already
carrying out few projects in Shushi. There are donors who have started
reconstruction works. Shushi’s reconstruction has a personal meaning
for me. I adore Shushi and think that it should become a cultural
center for the Armenian nation. Shushi and Gyumri played a huge role
in the cultural life of Armenians and they both should gain their
former role in our lives.

By Tatoul Hakobian