Today is Karabakh's Independence Referendum and Constitution Day

In connection with the anniversary of the NKR State Independence Referendum and the Constitution Day NKR President Bako Sahakyan has issued a congratulatory address to the citizens of the republic, where he has noted: “On very day in 1991 our people officially sealed their will to form free, independent and sovereign state. And it was not a coincident that 15 years later on this very day of 2006 the people of Artsakh once again expressed their resoluteness to further strengthen and develop independent statehood and on a nation-wide referendum adopted the basic of the country – the NKR Constitution. It has marked the irreversibility of our state policy to build democratic country, our commitment to the follow international norms and integrate with the civilized world.”
Remarkably, the tiny Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is often much more advanced in terms of democratisation, basic freedoms, culture to hold referendums and elections, than either Armenia or Azerbaijan, which assume the responsability to speak about the future status of Karabakh.
Joining in with my congratulations to the people of Karabakh, I want to also share my vision: the only way for Karabakh to remain independent and become internationally recognized, is to pursue further reforms and improvement of its fragile democracy. The only way, for Armenia to attain greater moral weight in speaking on behalf of NKR, is for Armenia to overcome its major problems with democracy and human rights, which were especially visible this year as a result of 2008 Presidential elections and the violence that followed afterwards.
PS: Coincidentally, today is also the International Day of Human Rights.

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

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