Bringing Karabagh Down Under

25.6.2008
News

Australia - Armenian school 2 -2008.jpgThe Foundation’s Antranig Kasbarian and Mary Matosian recently spent nine days with the Armenian community in Sydney, Australia, discussing the resettlement of Karabagh’s strategic borderlands. The visit came by invitation of the “Hayastan All-Armenia Fund’s Australia branch, the Armenian National Committee (ANC), and the Armenian Chamber Of Commerce in Australia (ACCA).

The visit consisted of private meetings, media interviews, and large-scale community gatherings, all designed to raise awareness of current conditions in Kashatagh (Lachin) – the strategic lifeline connecting Karabagh to Armenia. At the same time, the visit sought to connect donors to specific projects that can foster resettlement and economic development in the region.

Throughout their visit, Kasbarian and Matosian met with local organizations, prominent leaders and businessmen, as well as the community-at-large. These included press and radio interviews, public presentations in two Sydney neighborhoods, a lecture/discussion at Sydney’s largest Armenian school, and smaller sessions with the All-Armenian Fund, the ACCA, as well as the ANC. Both Kasbarian and Matosian were pleased with the results.

“We are amazed by this community’s level of organization,” said Matosian, who directs the Foundation’s Karabagh branch. “The people we’ve met have been very receptive, very enthusiastic. These people genuinely want to help.”
Working together with local groups, the Foundation has identified three projects the Australia photo - 2.jpgcommunity can support. These include 1) establishing a cultural/community center in the village of Moshatagh; 2) improving sanitation and solid waste disposal in Berdzor, Kashatagh’s capital; and 3) renovating homes throughout the region. Several local groups plan to begin fundraising for these projects, beginning this summer: ANC will partner with the Armenian Relief Society to sponsor one such project. Meanwhile, Australia’s three Armenian political parties, together with the Armenian General Benevolent Union, will host a fundraiser this summer on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Karabagh movement. This event will be held in cooperation with the NKR’s Honorary Consul in Australia, Mr. Varoojan Iskenderian, and under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of the Diocese of Australia & New Zealand.

ANC Australia President Varant Meguerditchian praised the Foundation’s efforts and pledged to drive community support for Kashatagh. “Kashatagh holds particular importance for us, as it houses the corridor linking Nagorno-Karabagh with Armenia. Strengthening Kashatagh is more than a humanitarian endeavor; it’s about bolstering our national security,” he stated.

The projects presented in Australia are part of a larger slate of activities assembled by the Tufenkian Foundation, in cooperation with the NKR government. This program intends to support current resettlers while also spurring new resettlement activity in Kashatagh, which is currently the poorest district in all of Armenia and Karabagh. The full slate of activities was first presented at a pan-Armenian conference held in Kashatagh this past March. Representatives of the Armenian-Australian community were unable to attend; instead, they extended an invitation for the abovementioned visit.

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