AGBU Magazine |December 2012

Building A Republic

Building a Budget Base

Some 140,000 people who live in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) today are trying to build an economy that would allow them not only to survive the blockade imposed by Azerbaijan, but to secure a comfortable, safe and prosperous life, as well.

For the Recognition of Artsakh

Historically, Artsakh was one of the provinces of Greater Armenia (also known as “Mets Hayk” or the Armenian Highlands), and etymologically means “Aran’s Garden.” Aran was the minister-governor of Greater Armenia’s northeastern provinces, which included Artsakh. Its Turkish and Iranian usurpers later gave the land the name “Karabakh,” which means “black garden” and is a simplified form of the word Artsakh. The root form “Ar” in Armenian means “of masculine nature” and is found in many toponymic names such as Ararat, Aragats, Artsakh, etc.

Nagorno Karabakh

Mountainous Karabakh (also known as Nagorno Karabakh or the Artsakh Province of Historic Armenia) was handed over from Persia (Iran) to the Russian Empire in 1813 by the Treaty of Gulistan as a consequence of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813). This political status lasted only until the overthrow of the Russian monarchy through the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and a local government was created in Mountainous Karabakh.

Securing a Way Forward

To know Armenia is to know that there are nearly as many differences of opinion on almost any topic as there are citizens. To know the Armenian Diaspora is to know that uniting them under the name “Diaspora” by no means makes this vast group homogeneous. To know Nagorno Karabakh is to know this: While dividing a region, Karabakh unites a nation.

Promoting Education and Youth

Recognizing that youth are the most important resource to cultivate in order to ensure a bright future for the Armenian nation, AGBU was proud to see the active participation of its Young Professionals Network throughout the General Assembly and its related activities. Representatives from Athens, Beirut, Boston, London, Los Angeles, New York and Yerevan, with a special guest from India, convened a roundtable discussion, and reflected on shared best practices and challenges in fundraising, attracting new members, and promoting initiatives.

Celebrating Triumphant Culture

Culture is a mainstay in Armenian life, and the schedule of events surrounding the Union’s 87th General Assembly included concerts, exhibits and celebrations displaying the vibrancy of the homeland. When guests arrived at the AGBU Gala Concert inside the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex, they were greeted by a special exhibit featuring rare photos and text that narrated AGBU’s expanding presence across Armenia, Karabakh and the diaspora throughout its 106 years of existence.


Shifting their focus to the region’s future, over 100 AGBU representatives embarked on a two-day journey to Karabakh, where they met with NKR President Bako Sahakyan. The meeting was also attended by Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan. On behalf of AGBU, President Setrakian presented Mr. Sahakyan with the AGBU Gold Medal and a certificate in recognition of his outstanding leadership and distinct efforts to achieve international recognition for the republic. Mr.

Recognizing Excellence

For over a century, AGBU has enjoyed the support of tens of thousands of members and volunteers in carrying out its mission. Eight members of the Union, along with three individuals who have demonstrated exceptional service to Armenia, were honored during AGBU’s 87th General Assembly.

A President's Vision

AGBU President Berge Setrakian addressed the Union’s membership during the special two-day delegate meetings and at the General Assembly, which was attended by Armenia’s Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, AGBU benefactors and members from all corners of the world.

Envisioning a Bright Future

The world’s largest Armenian non-profit organization held its 87th biennial General Assembly in Armenia—a tradition that occurs every six years—with approximately 300 AGBU members representing 26 countries arriving in Yerevan to bridge their connection to the homeland and plan a roadmap for the Union’s future. The AGBU Yerevan Office, supported by a large number of enthusiastic volunteers, organized a full week of events, including conferences, seminars, Chapter, Young Professionals and Goriz delegate meetings; formal banquets and concerts; as well as inaugurations and consecrations of new buildings and projects.

Making Victory Count

On May 9, 1992, the day after the liberation of Shushi, when the smell of gunpowder had not yet given way to the smell of incense rising on prayers for peace, rebuilding began in the nearly destroyed and desecrated Ghazanchetsots Church. The Azeris had turned the church into a munitions dump, but the special mass for the dead that took place signaled a rebirth for Shushi that continues 20 years later.

Life Beyond the Capital

Armenian revolutionary Stepan Shahumian’s headless mosaic greets visitors at the entrance to the Karabakh village of Sos. The head on the hero’s Soviet-era image was blown off by Azeri shelling more than 18 years ago, and there seem to be no plans for restoration. Honoring heroes is a less urgent need than producing new ones. And with many of Karabakh’s 301 villages losing their youth to local cities or to other countries, concerns outgrow populations.


Gurgen Arustamian, a carpenter in Hadrut, speaks with irony about the day his life was changed by a landmine. “I fought on the frontline for two years and was not even scratched,” he says, laughing, as if yet amazed that he survived the bloody fighting of 1991-94. “Then, eventually I was blown apart in peace time.” In 1997, Arustamian, who was 26-years old at the time, was collecting wood with his 10-year old brother not far from the town of Hadrut (in the southern province of the same name). Arustamian was walking ahead of his brother...