Armenia Fund Telethon 2013: A New Route to Security and Prosperity

Building an alternate route between Armenia and Karabagh is the designated campaign theme of the upcoming Armenia Fund’s 16th International Thanksgiving Day Telethon. The goal of this massive public works effort is to turn the roads that currently link a string of strategically important towns in northern Armenia and northern Karabagh into a modern highway system. The new route is projected to promote trade, cooperation, and economic development among vulnerable border communities that are vital to national security.

VMH map. The new road is about building the security, stability, and sustainability connection.
VMH map. The new road is about building the security, stability, and sustainability connection.

Reflection of new geopolitical realities

For some, this new initiative may beg the question, Why another public road works project when there is the Goris-Stepanakert Highway? Since its completion back in 1999, that highway has proven to be the kingpin of the fund’s sustainable economic development and security strategy. Prior to its construction, it took several days to travel from Mardakert in Karabagh to Yerevan in Armenia. Following the completion of the Goris-Stepanakert Highway as well as the North-South Highway, within Karabagh alone it now takes just nine hours. With the addition of the Vardenis-Mardakert Highway, there will be a shortcut through the north, which will take just a few hours to cross. Trucks will be able to reach markets faster and, equally important, supplies will be able to reach military bases and local government centers promptly.

The Goris-Stepanakert route connects south-eastern Armenia with south-central Karabagh, ending in its capital city. It excludes access for both northern Armenia’s border communities and those border towns in Karabagh which, 22 years ago, were delineated as part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Today, these villages are neighbors with a hostile Azerbaijan, creating a very different security dynamic. An alternative route connecting the two Armenian republics can make all the difference. The Vardenis-Mardakert Highway will link 16 village communities and 3 towns, Vardenis in Armenia and Kharvachar and Mardakert in Karabagh. That’s more 76,000 residents who stand to benefit from the new highway.

The security, stability, sustainability connection

Khoren Bandazian, the chairman of Armenia Fund USA, explained the rationale behind the project. “Security is a high priority for both Armenia and Karabagh,” he said. “And the key to that security lies in demographics. The stable presence of an Armenian population is paramount. But keeping multiple generations on their ancestral lands is only possible with economic growth and sustainability. The Vardenis-Mardakert Highway project is at the intersection of these three goals. It will hasten the transport of goods and supplies so that local businesses can reliably serve customers and regional trade can increase.” Bandazian also noted Armenia Fund USA’s generous support of and first-hand experience with building the Goris-Stepankert Highway, and later, with the North-South Highway that connect Armenia’s communities with Karabagh. “Given our track record, our affiliate is uniquely equipped to help make this project a success,” he said.

Telethon logo
Telethon logo

A projects-within-a-project approach

The road from Vardenis in Armenia to Mardakert in Karabagh totals 96.7 kilometers. It covers such varied terrain that there are multiple construction, engineering, and public safety challenges involved. For example, there is a significant stretch of unpaved, dirt-covered road that changes dramatically in width at different intervals and involves as many as 339 sharp turns, 17 of which are serpentine configurations. Other sections have been partially blocked due to landslides or river swells, adding to the hazardous conditions. Finally, new road signage, protective barriers, and other modern standards of road safety must be installed to meet current government regulations.

Telethon 2013 to put northern regions in spotlight

Armenia Fund USA has begun to reach out to some longtime donors to generate support for this worthy initiative. “We believe that our past support of major highway projects has convinced our donors that their generosity will produce tangible, lasting benefits once again,” said Irina Lazarian, the executive director of the eastern U.S. affiliate. “We have led the way through this type of ambitious undertaking twice before, under more trying circumstances. Sure, building roads is gritty and heavy work and doesn’t make for pretty photos,” she said. “Yet the promise for transformative change is golden.”

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. A beautiful map: showing the correct current boundaries of Armenian lands and historic Armenian placenames.
    Kudos to ArmenianWeekly.

    Sadly, too much still under occupation – in green shades.
    Some day. Soon.

    But let us improve and strengthen what we now have first.
    Give until it hurts.

    [Except those ‘Armenians’ who do not want Artsakh’s children to have clean drinking water or modern roads.]

  2. Only democracy, healthy economy, less corruption will make Armenia stronger in the region!!Right now those Axeri Tatar Turks shooting and shelling toward our border villages in Artsakh and Tavush areas, and there is no retaliation, and there is no condemnation by Russia or EU or even OSCE either!!In the next war Armenia must cut off Axeris lifeline toward Georgia!

  3. Good News indeed.In the past when I asked our compatriots in Homeland why not a shorter route to NK via Vardenis.Got as response high mountains there(Dynamite takes care of it though)and/or there are gold mines there and as yet not considered for exploration .Some such answers.
    Am glad this is in its final planning stages and soon they will Dynamite open that important Route.

  4. Avery, thank you for showing your fascist aggressive true colors! I am sure most Armenians think like you. Such aggessive mindset is why you are scared shirtless of Azeris and Turks and have had to run to Putin for proection. From behind his kneees, you can continue spewing threats :)

    By the way, do you know that it is a violation of Geneva convention to build infrastructure on occupied territories (i.e., territories that is not yours according to modern international law)? But you don’t care about laws. You have your own silly mythologies to live by. And see where they have taken you? Far away from your “historical’ Armenia! Safely nationalistic from afar! Bravo! A truely patriotic Armnenian would have stayed back. You just pretend to be one online.

    • “By the way, do you know that it is a violation of Geneva convention to build infrastructure on occupied territories (i.e., territories that is not yours according to modern international law)?”

      Road building and other works such as clean water is done to help improve the living conditions of the people living there. This is to meet humanitarian needs. As far as I’m concerned, that trumps international laws, if it actually applies here. But I’m no expert on international laws.

      “Such aggessive mindset is why you are scared shirtless of Azeris and Turks and have had to run to Putin for proection.”

      There is irony here in that Turks are the ones with the aggressive mindset, even today. Their whole existence in Anatolia is thanks to this mindset, which was not born out of a peacefully philosophy. And Republic of Turkey has always had fear and paranoia about minorities gaining strength. And thus acted with an aggressive mindset towards and kept them in check using fear, using violence and nationalism taught in schools.

    • Karim,

      Armenians are not aggressors, they are liberators. Once again, the ancient Armenian province of Artsakh, aka Karabakh, administratively changed hands under the Soviet divide-and-rule policy in 1921. In other words, Karabakh was never part of the independent Azerbaijani republic. It was under Azerbaijani SSR occupation for seventy years only. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 and the Soviet Empire came to an end, so did the occupation of Karabakh. Unfortunately Armenians had to go to war to make this official. Therefore, the Armenians did not act aggressively and instead they taught the aggressive Azerbaijanis a lesson they will never forget in their lives. Your hollow rants are a prime example of that.

      How long are you going to play the Putin card? It is truly embarrassing for an Azerbaijani who claims that Armenians are scared of them not put his money where his mouth is. You keep emphasizing that, unlike Armenia, the artificial state of Azerbaijan is truly an independent republic. Why then doesn’t this true independent republic take unilateral action instead of making excuses? You got the oil, the revenues, all the toys you have been buying and amassing over the years, yet here you are making pathetic excuses that we run to Putin for protection. You even recently got $1 billion dollars worth of weaponry from Putin’s government! What more do you need? Give us a fraction of your oil revenues and we will teach you how it’s done.

      Why don’t you face the fact that you are a gutless nation who can’t do a damn thing so you rant and rave and blame others for your lack of manhood. It is the Azerbaijanis who are scared “shirtless” of the Armenians and not the other way around. All the proof is right in front of you but your empty ego has blinded your judgment. I laugh my a$$ off when I see Ilham Aliyev at the front with his fake uniform. This gutless autocratic racist thief was of ripe military age when the war broke out but he was missing in action, he was an MIA! Where was he then to show his courage instead of hiding behind his daddy’s skirt? His counterpart Sargsyan, and all the current and former Armenian presidents and ministers, were on the front lines fighting as soldiers and commanders and you have the audacity to say Armenians are afraid of Azerbaijanis? Get real you have embarrassed yourself plenty already.

      Unlike your loud-mouth and gutless leader with his make-believe war, the Armenian leaders have seen and already been in the real war and that is why they understand the meaning of war and all the devastation it causes. You should kneel down and thank them for their sober minds because they can do it again and far worse than the last time. There is an old expression that says: Put up or shut up. You are neither putting up nor you are shutting up. If you can put up then common sense and logic dictates that you shut the hell up but you don’t. Do you know why you can’t put up? I will give you two primary reasons: 1) A defeated nation is always in doubt and has to be militarily at least three times stronger than the victor to even attempt to take a step, 2) If Azerbaijan even remotely attempts any aggression, after acquiring much needed missing courage and exhausting all the billions from oil revenues, Armenian government will officially recognize the Armenian republic of Karabakh and you will be facing two armies combined as one. If with all the big talk and racist nonsense you can’t muster the courage to do anything now, other than killing innocent people at LoC with hidden snipers like cowards, how much of a chance will you have then to do anything? ZERO! You stand to lose more of Azerbaijani-occupied native Armenian lands.

  5. Karim Khan,

    If you feel that Avery is the only “fascist” here, then please accept and add millions more Armenians from Armenia and around the world, who have same ideology, philosophy, who are united against Turkic tribes aggression toward Armenia and Artsakh ..may Allah save Axerbaijani fascist corrupted regime..

  6. We Diasporan Armenians need to stop sending money to the regime-run projects in Armenia. It only enables the criminal regime and prolongs its existence. Stopping the flow of money will give a powerful message to the ruling criminals in Armenia and to our brothers there. The number one priority for the Armenian nation is not the building of new infrastructure but the establishment of democracy in Armenia. Until then, the money we send is wasted. Sure, some infrastructure will be built, while some of the money will be stolen by the ruling criminals. However, you cannot defend a country with just infrastructure, when the people (the most important resource), are leaving. And they are not leaving because of lack of infrastructure. They are leaving because of utter lack of justice and lack of hope to choose the government that they want.

    The salvation of the Armenian state is democracy. Without it, Armenia will perish, as it did in 1920. With democracy, Armenia will grow and prosper. Therefore, all this money needs to be used to help the local activists change the government, change the system, and give our country back to the people.

  7. {“ We Diasporan Armenians….”}: Really ?

    Is that the same “We…Armenians” that wrote this:
    {“a sweet miniseries about the love story between a beautiful woman and her first cousin.”} (Vahagn // July 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm // @AW)
    …referring to a Turkish TV miniseries celebrating a ‘love’ story between two Turkish cousins.
    Q: in what culture not only is it acceptable, but a widely practiced custom to marry one’s own cousin ?
    You guys know any ‘Armenians’ – in Diaspora, in RoA, or in NKR – that would find something like that ‘sweet’ ?

    These same group of ‘Armenians’ (e.g. Ara Manoogian & Co) were running around in 2011 telling people not to donate to the Fund that year.
    In case people forgot: the goal of 2011 Fund Telethon was for vital water projects in Artsakh.
    Water projects.
    So these ‘Armenians’ were in effect trying to convince Armenians not to provide clean drinking water to Armenian children.
    Now, how many Armenians do you know of that would deny Armenian children – or children of any nationality – clean drinking water ?

    btw: their advice, no surprise, was soundly ignored by Armenians worldwide: the Fund collected a record amount that year.

    And surprise, surprise, the same ‘Armenians’ now want to interfere with the construction of a vital, strategic project that will connect RoA and NKR with a better, faster highway.
    Projects like this highway will not only strengthen commercial and national ties between RoA and NKR, but will serve as a crucial military re-supply conduit if and when the nomadic hordes invade our lands again.
    Q: who would want NKR to be isolated from RoA so it can be weakened and destroyed by Azerbaijan ?

    As to the baloney about democracy being a panacea and supposedly making a country better or stronger, in and of itself : in another thread, we extensively schooled our ‘Armenian’ buddy boy on this very same subject.
    Briefly: China vs India.
    Autocratic, one-Party rule China has left fully democratic India in the dust in every metric of human development, plus industrial & military advancement. They are not even close. So much for democracy.

    Certain ‘Armenians’ calling for fake ‘democracy’ in RoA in reality want disorder, chaos and anarchy so that Armenia can be weakened internally and become an easy prey to its enemies. If their loser ChosenOne candidate was overwhelmingly rejected by the wise electorate of RoA, then there is supposedly no ‘democracy’ in Armenia: of course not.

    What we have today in RoA and NKR is a MIRACLE.
    A gift from God and a gift from the heroic, selfless Armenian Men and Women who created both and who fought and gave their lives to preserve both.
    Against impossible odds.
    Nothing we do to help our bothers and sisters is too much.

    Oh yeah: check out these beautiful pictures of the new hospital in Stepanakert.
    Note: this was not an AF project.

    • Great, now we know who is behind the hospital. A Russian-Armenian thug (Samvel Karapetyan) working hand-in-hand with the thugs in Armenia and NKR, what a surprise. Has anyone seen his picture? He looks like a Sicilian mafiosi and can barely speak Russian, and yet he has somehow amassed this huge fortune. Everything about the dude screams mafia. And by the way, construction is one of the most popular avenues for money laundering used by organized crime. Perhaps the Diasporan billionaires from the West are not as comfortable getting in bed with the ruling criminals in Armenia, and so they keep their money for worthier causes (like Kirk Krikorian’s donation to UCLA). I say, good for them.

  8. Avery,
    Beautiful pictures …this complex looks more hotel, than an hospital.. May be I should go there for my retirement. I will feel safe and secure to live beside a “5 star” hotel.

    • GB, here are a few more realistic photos of people in “retirement” (i.e. in abject poverty) in Armenia:

      These are the pictures that the regime in Armenia does not want us Diasporans to see. Instead, they want us to see the and be fooled by the picture of the 5-star hospital that you saw. What they want us to see are cosmetic changes that are meant to fool the Diasporans while avoiding real, systematic changes that would give the power back to the people, stop emigration, and save the doomed country.

      By the way, I respect your wish to retire in Armenia, after working and (through your tax dollars) contributing to the prosperity of whatever country you live in. The people in Armenia need a country where Armenians wish to work and create, not just retire. A country cannot be defended against the enemy by retirees alone.

    • Oh gee, buddy boy: we didn’t know there is poverty in Armenia.
      Thanks for letting us know.
      We were lied to for years.
      We were told Armenia is Switzerland of the Caucasus.
      We are shocked, shocked: poverty in RoA ? Nooooo.
      (btw: maybe you can dig up a more recent article, instead of the one from 2009: you know, maybe something from 1989 ? that would be more relevant).

      Oh, about that Democracy you keep crowing about:

      This one, just for my buddy boy: you’ll appreciate the homeless young man juxtaposed with the Stars and Stripes.
      Makes you proud being an American, donnit, homes ?

      Let us now move closer to your real homeland…..Azerbaijan.

      Here is an excerpt from an article in TheGuardian about Eurovision, Baku ( May 2012):
      {“The vast wealth that flowed into the country as oil prices soared and then peaked in 2008 failed to trickle down to most of the population, with the average salary standing at 351 manat (£285) a month, according to government statistics. Independent observers say it is much lower, at just 130 manat a month, on average, for doctors and other state workers.”}
      {“Yet just outside the city centre, far from the oil wealth poured into Baku, lies a land where roads are rarely paved. In the suburb of Balakhani, just 15 miles away, dilapidated houses painted bright pink and blue stand in stark contrast with their corrugated roofs and grim surroundings. Children play in the shadows of oil pumps and black pools filled with rubbish. The sour smell of oil hangs in the air.”}

      One more:
      BBC Panorama – Eurovision’s Dirty Secret Azerbaijan
      You should watch the 30 min report about your homeland, but I’ll save you some time. This is what the narrator says, starting at time stamp approx 22:40.
      {“This is the reality for many here; grim poverty; meager pensions; poor sanitation; a healthcare system dominated by a culture of bribes; its oil wealth remains in the hands of very few”}

      That buddy boy, is your Azerbaijan in 2012.

      And you are absolutely gonna love this next one.
      [Azerbaijani soldiers are fed by carrion and meat of sick animals; officials however are not concerned with this problem]

      Donnit remind you of your ancestral steppes of Nomadistan,
      buddy boy ?

    • Homelessness exists everywhere, buddy boy, in case you just discovered. Yet, despite the homelessness and other problems in the United States, thousands of Armenians choose to dump their country and move to the U.S. What does it say about Armenia?

      Here is some more numbers to educate you: over a third of Armenia’s population live below poverty line. And that’s based on official government numbers, which are usually cooked up. And that’s after massive emigration, which has relieved some of the poverty:

      I will let you research poverty figures in the United States to see which system is better. Unless you are willing to apologize for wasting everyone’s time with irrelevant whataboutism.

      Speaking of wasting time, it’s quite amusing watching our buddy boy waste massive time and space with articles about Azerbaijan. As if anyone here cares. I post about Armenia because I care about my people suffering there. If you care so much about Azerbaijan, keep posting irrelevant info about it. Armenia cannot afford to be “just less corrupt” than Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan can afford to be corrupt, because it has oil, which it can use to drive up its military budget (already greater than Armenia’s entire GDP) and eventually squash a weakened Armenia. The only resource that Armenia has is its human resource, which is being wasted due to lack of democracy.

  9. The post by our pseudo-“patriot” buddy boy “Avery” above is the typical bs spewed by dictatorships, criminal oligarchs (such as those ruling Armenia) and their apologists: “denying children drinking water.” As if these thugs actually care about the children growing up in poverty. Interestingly, the poster above lives in the prosperity of the United States, enjoying the benefits of democracy, while urging us to support the criminal regime in Armenia. The hypocrisy of our self-proclaimed “patriots” is quite amusing.

    The truth is, the children of Armenia need much more than clean water. They need a society where they can have future, opportunities, and rule of law. They know what they need and what they deserve, and that is why they leave Armenia by thousands and go to other countries where they can enjoy these benefits, plus all the clean water that they need. By leaving Armenia, they deny to accept the “crumbs” thrown at them by the corrupt regime that takes away so much from them.

    And we, as Diasporans, cannot let the regime in Armenia keep its people in hostage by using the “our children need clean water” line while denying these children the kind of future that our children in our democratic countries have. If we enjoy the benefits of a democratic state, so do our brothers in Armenia. The people in Armenia know it, and that is why they leave the country. That is why establishing democracy in Armenia is a greater priority than “clean water.” When the country becomes empty and is overrun by its enemies, the clean water will be irrelevant.

    And by the way, it is the oligarchs and the regime denying the children of Armenia clean water and other benefits by driving away Diasporan investment (through state-level mafia) and stifling economic development. These infrastructures should be completed by money flowing through foreign investment as well as tax-revenues resulting from economic development, not through money begged and squeezed from the Diaspora in the name of “charity.” The ruling thugs have turned Armenia into a beggar state, when instead it could have been an economic powerhouse by inviting energetic Diasporan investment and spurring local economic growth. That is what’s denying these children clean water. And that is the kind of system that we enable by sending money.

    Plus, the oligarchs in Armenia should be loaded with enough money to support these infrastructures. If we stop sending money to these projects, perhaps people will have to turn to them, the proper source, to fund these projects. And if that does not work, the people will realize that they need to replace the ruling thugs.

    And regarding the already-debunked example of China and India, India is classified as a flawed democracy, due to its flawed constitution and political system. We need to adopt the examples of successful democracies, such as the United States, where thousands of Armenians come to live, not flawed ones.

    Finally, just for fun, let’s read our psuedo-patriot buddy boy’s self-hating quote once again, which calls our Genocide victims “sheep” and blames them for the Genocide: quote by Avery: “no wonder we were slaughtered like sheep by Turks. Turks glorify their military, while we glorify our spoiled brats.”

  10. Where is Nakhejevan in the map, it disappeared…?
    The place where thousands of Khatch-kars (Cross-stones)… where destroyed…
    I call it the grave yard of Khatchkars…
    Double crucified …and thrown in the river…
    Where is god to see…!!!

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