My Big, Fat, Armenian Wedding! …in Karabakh

An unprecedented wedding ceremony, which married 675 new couples, took place in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on October 16. The ceremonies took place in St. Ghazanchetsots church of Shoushi and ancient Gandzasar monastery of Martakert. The Karabakh wedding, followed by a solemn dinner and issuance of wedding certificates and wedding gifts in Stepanakert’s republican stadium, was implemented with the initiative of Russian businessman of Karabakh descent – Levon Hairapetyan, who was also the main sponsor of the event.
The couples were presented ‘golden’ banking cards with $2500 worth of AMD on the balance for each new family to spend. The beneficiaries have also thought about future children: following the birth of the first child the family will receive $2000, the second child – $3000, third child – $5000, fourth – $10,000, fifth – $20,000, sixth – $50,000, seventh – $100,000. That’s plenty of reasons for 675 children to be born in Artsakh next year – 2000 reasons starting from the first child 😉
The fact is – Karabakh has a serious population problem, and similar steps are the surest way to tackle it. Earlier this year Hetq published an article which adds another dimension to this story:

All this commotion is not only the result of the planned collective wedding event but also due to the government’s program unveiled in January of this year that calls for providing gifts of 300,000 drams to newly wed couples. To this end the Karabakh government has earmarked 450 million drams out of the 2008 state budget to be allocated to some 1,500 couples. However, it is already apparent that the number of couples that will register to get married this year will exceed this number. This became clear back in April when figures at the NKR National Statistical Agency showed the number of couples registering for marriage at 1,887. This compares to 224 couples during the same period in 2007. Interestingly, a portion of these 1,887 couples have already gotten hitched but the marriages were never properly registered in order that they are able to take advantage of the government’s largesse. In 2007 there were 519 marriages registered in Karabakh and 827 in 2006.

Apart from ensuring record number of marriages and most probably – a boom in next year’s child birthrates, this event will also serve the important purpose of establishing long-lasting relationships between donors and Karabakhis – given the fact, that the beneficiaries of the event are also becoming Godfathers for the newly formed families. No wonder, that the President of Karabakh Bako Sahakyan spoke on the event stressing it’s importance for the country. Overall – this has been the best piece of news I’ve heard so far this year.

Photos via: 517design

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Politics of Population (Biopolitics and Eugenics) is always number 1 priority of any State (even an unrecognized one).
    On a more statistical note, if 657 babies are born in 9 months time and the $2000 payment is made for each, then this will increase the Artsakh GDP by more than 400,000,000 AMD. So, get to *work*, boys 😉
    if the second round is completed in 18 months, then this will literally mean a minimum of 75% annual wage increase.
    I’d personally love to see more of such money being thrown at the repopulation of Kashatagh, while the governemnt is actively depopulating the area.
    But no matter how funny this events looks from the outside, I can’t help but feel happy for these couples and praise Levon Hairapetyan. On this occasion, I’d like to extend my congratulations to all the couples. God Bless!!!

  2. kronstadt, the question is where the $2,000 minimum payment comes from. I don’t know what the NKR budget looks like but usually it’s a matter of stealing from Peter to pay Paul, i.e. re-allocating the moneys from one expense account to another with a net effect of zero.
    But I agree with you. Population growth is going to be a problem for NKR and Armenia. The two countries have experienced negative growth for the last 15+ years due to exodus and declining birth rates. This is while the enemy birth rates have remained fairly high – I remember the Azerbaijani families having 5+ kids while the norm for the Armenian families was 1 or 2 kids (pretty much reflective of the lifestyles of the two ethnic groups). This was during the Soviet times but I’m sure this has remained the same especially in the rural areas of Azerbaijan.
    From what I have researched, the monetary rewards for extra children do not work. But this could be scewed as the societies that resort to this are highly urbanized and fairly well developed. One example is Singapore where the parents get something like US$20,000 for a kid. This has not increased the birth rates.
    But the case of NKR might be different as it is not Singapore. The danger, however, is that the parents may have a kid, ,collect the cash and then abandon the kid. I hope there are provisions against such consequence.

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