Monday, November 13, 2006


Lragir, Armenia
Nov 9 2006

The President of the Republic of Armenia - Mr. Robert Kocharian
The President of the Mountainous Republic of Karabakh - Mr. Arkady

We would like to draw your attention to a recent series of reports that have appeared in both the Armenian and diasporan press focusing on the worsening socio-economic situation in the Kashatagh region. As a result, Armenians are leaving this vitally strategic area in increasing numbers.

When the Karabagh war ended, Armenians the world over heaved a collective sigh of relief and jubilation. After years of struggle and much sacrifice, Artsakh was once again delivered into the hands of its rightful owners. So too had Kashatagh (Lachin), the lands once artificially separating Armenia from Artsakh, been liberated.

But Kashatagh needed an influx of Armenians to make the land flourish once again. Therefore, in 1994, Armenia initiated a much-heralded policy of repopulating Kashatagh and its environs. Primarily, Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and other indigent families from Armenia were encouraged to move to Kashatagh with promises of generous financial and material assistance. Many did heed the call and moved to Kashatagh. Given the fact that Armenia itself was in dire financial straits at the time, this initiative was both commendable and noble. According to various sources, Kashatagh's repopulation reached a peak of about 20,000 in the late 1990s. Today, however, the remaining population has dipped below 10,000. Some say it has reached a low of 7,000. In the last few years, authorities of the NKR have taken over the governance of Kashatagh from Armenia, and yet the situation has continued to deteriorate.

Armenians who initially were encouraged to move there now feel a sense of neglect and isolation. Surprisingly, some news reports cite the fact that many local officials agree that the situation in Kashatagh needs immediate attention. We fear that if conditions do not improve, we soon might be facing an area of land devoid of Armenians. No one wants this to happen.

We the undersigned find it troubling that the responsible authorities in Armenia and Karabakh seem to be indifferent to the unfolding tragedy in Kashatagh. Therefore, we ask that your respective governments analyze the situation and take the necessary measures to ameliorate the conditions faced by the residents of Kashatagh and thus reverse the present exodus from the region.

We also ask that your governments clarify their positions regarding the resettlement policy in Kashatagh. Unfortunately, many Armenians there believe they have been betrayed and are to be used as pawns in future political negotiations. The Armenians of Kashatagh deserve to know where they stand.

As Armenians concerned with the plight of our compatriots in Kashatagh we can no longer remain silent when faced with the inaction, mismanagement, and dare we say, corruption, that is the hallmark of many local officials in Kashatagh. "Business as usual" should not be tolerated and we urge you to take appropriate and quick action.


Coalition in Support of Kashatagh.

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