February and March were busy months for the Foundation, as Development Director Antranig Kasbarian paid a working visit to Lebanon and Syria, where he met with various Armenian community leaders. The visit was organized at the initiative of the Artsakh Fund of Lebanon, which has committed to various programs in the strategic Kashatagh (Lachin) region of Nagorno-Karabagh.
Dr. Kasbarian began his visit in Beirut, interviewing with the Aztag daily newspaper and the Radio Voice of Van. These were followed by various informative presentations to the community-at-large: The largest gathering was at the Der Melkonian Hall, where he addressed the history and geopolitical challenges faced by Karabagh. The talk was accompanied by a slide presentation depicting life in Karabagh’s strategic borderlands, especially in Kashatagh and other territories liberated during the 1988-1994 war. He also delivered presentations at a number of schools, including the American University of Beirut where Armenian students expressed interest in volunteering in the region. Kasbarian was later joined by the Foundation’s Nagorno-Karabagh Director, Maro Matosian, for additional meetings with the Armenian Relief Society, Hamazkain, the Municipality of Bourdj Hammoud, and the Association of Armenian Doctors. These organizations each pledged their cooperation for various medical and educational projects in the region.
While in Beirut, Dr. Kasbarian also met with a large group of Lebanese-Armenian business leaders, who expressed readiness to invest in appropriate projects in Kashatagh. Working together with the Artsakh Fund, the Foundation has prepared several business projects, mainly in agriculture, for investors to consider. In his presentation, Dr. Kasbarian emphasized that these investments are designed to yield not only profits, but social dividends – especially the creation of livelihoods to form the basis for resettling Kashatagh.
Alongside these presentations, Dr. Kasbarian held a cordial meeting with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. In particular, the two discussed the Catholicos’s plans to build the new ‘Nor Giligia’ village in Karabagh’s Martakert region. Aram Vehapar also took great interest in discovering the background of Foundation founder James Tufenkian, a third-generation Armenian-American who upon rediscovering his Armenian identity has dedicated himself to important causes in Armenia and Artsakh.
Dr. Kasbarian then continued his lecture tour with stops in Anjar, Lebanon and Aleppo, Syria. The Syrian-Armenian community also has committed to several projects in Kashatagh, while a substantial number of residents expressed interest in resettling in Kashatagh themselves.