Armenians looking to improve economy of region linking Karabakh to Armenia

Stepanakert, 29 March: A three-day conference is being held in the centre of the Kashatagh (Lacin) region of the Nagornyy Karabakh republic to discuss the region’s development issues.

“The fact that you are now here and are attending this very important event shows that our sisters and brothers in various parts of the world are inseparable from the fate of Kashatagh, and consequently, from the fate of Armenia and Artsakh [Nagornyy Karabakh]. This conference, dedicated to Kashatagh’s development, is the first one of this type, and I hope that it will become a basis for holding such events in the future. This will promote an effective solution to problems in the region and the implementation of projects aimed at further development,” NKR president Bako Sahakyan said while addressing the opening of the conference.

Sahakyan said that “the Kashatagh region is of great strategic importance to the whole Armenian people”. “It is no accident that our rival [referring to Azerbaijan] had turned this territory into a wedge between Armenia and Artsakh for about 70 years. Since May 1992, the role of this region changed sharply, and the section which was liberated during that period became a real ‘road of life’ for the people of Artsakh. Realizing both the political and economic significance of Kashatagh and our responsibility for its future, we must all get involved in the development of the region, establish a stable and competitive economy, increase the level of the people’s well-being and improve the living standards of people. This is the imperative for today, and this is required by the interests of our national security,” Sahakyan said.

At the same time, the Karabakh president said that the “existence of a strong, developed and populated Kashatagh creates stable conditions for the strengthening of our positions both in the negotiations process on the Karabakh conflict and on the front line, making it more protected and safer”.

“Funds allocated to the region’s development will increase considerably this year and in the coming years. The Kashatagh region’s budget for 2008 is 3.7bn drams [about 12m dollars], which exceeds last year’s figure by about 40 per cent. One billion drams [about 3m dollars] are planned to be spent on capital construction and 400m drams [about 1.3 m dollars] on the sphere of capital investment. These tendencies of proportionate development will be maintained in the future as well,” Sahakyan said. The president also said that apart from the region’s economic development, reforms are planned to improve the social condition of the population.

The conference is attended by representatives of 40 organizations of the Armenian diaspora, as well as individual businessman and philanthropists.

[Editorial note: Azerbaijan’s Lacin District (Armenian name Kashatagh), which was captured by Armenians in 1992, links the breakaway region of Nagornyy Karabakh to Armenia]

Source: Arminfo, Yerevan, in Russian 0903 gmt 29 Mar 08

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