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The results of the first pan-Armenian referendum

The foundation sees the rebirth of Shoushi, which was the most important educational and cultural center for all Armenians of the 19th century, not only in the restoration of the historical and architectural environment of the old town, but also in the inclusion of all Armenians in this process. Every Armenian, wherever he or she lives, will participate in the process of restoration of Shoushi town, which is the only surviving and won back to Armenians town. Parallel to the implementation of the complex program of the cultural heritage study of Shoushi and its surroundings, we strive to make Armenians of RA, NKR and Diaspora understand and participate in the process of restoration of the town-fortress, which was destroyed by the massacres of 1905 and 1920, as well as after the war of 1992. Therefore the foundation announced pan-Armenian referendum on the question of “Who agrees that Shoushi should become the educational and cultural capital for all Armenians?” The participants of referendum, as a sign of agreement, transferred the least 500 drams to the bank account of the foundation. The foundation signed contract with the postal services of RA, NKR, and in their departments the transfers from the work groups and individuals are accepted. Parallel to this, “Shoushi” charity foundation referred to all departments, political and non-governmental organizations and enterprises with the letters by offering them to participate in the referendum. The foundation was also interested in the fact, which part of Armenians is inclined to the strengthening and stability idea of the Armenian borders. From this point of view, the organized work was also a political demarche. In this way it was assessed by the Azerbaijani mass media and analysts, while they saw a serious threat for Azerbaijan in this undertaking.
The referendum started with the press-conference, television programs, newspaper announcements, and appropriate materials in numerous websites. The names of the participating persons and work groups in the referendum is published in the website.
The work groups of Metsamor atomic station and of Yerevan Underground Company were the first to respond to the referendum. Rather active were the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Armenia, the regional subdivisions of the state committee of real estate by the Government of Armenia as well as state tax administration. 14 176 people said “yes” to the idea of making Shouhi the pan-Armenian educational and cultural capital from January, 2006 to March, 2007 , from whom 2124 people were from the energy sector, and 4866 people were from secondary education institutions. 356 schools out of 1500 secondary educational centers of the Republic participated in the process and 73 of them were from Yerevan, 85 from Syuniq. Rather active participation was shown by the schools and colleges of Syuniq, as well as Kotaik, Ararat, Tavoush, Amasia, Artik and Gegharqouniq regions. Parallel to it, the inactivity of the educational system of Gyumri and Lori as well as of the students from the higher institutions of the Republic was really unexpected and surprising. 46 work groups as well as 31 rural communities (3% of the rural communities of Armenia) of our country responded to the call of the foundation. The educational staff of Yerevan State University of Economics from the large number of higher institutions of Armenia participated in this call. The work group of the Central Bank of Armenia from the large number of the banking system organizations participated in this call as well. If the National Assembly of Armenia did not respond to this undertaking of the foundation, then the entire personnel of the Government of Armenia headed by the Prime Minister, participated very seriously in the referendum. We consider the indifference of the soldiers and police officers important in the rebirth of the only standing and won back to its homeland, town-fortress. I think that through our demarche, the upbringing of the soldiers and police officers, the understanding of patriotic love towards own country’s borders is a serious step for the stabilization and security process of the country. The foundation expects that the call for the participation in the referendum will be responded by the officer staff and military units of the army, the police, Home Affairs, and a big part of the departments. The foundation hopes that the work groups governed by the famous businesspeople will show great interest in this process. It seemed that businesspeople, who were natives of Artsakh, would be the first to respond, and from this point of view their indifference is strange and unexpected. Probably, they need time to realize what is going on. Probably, many of them try at first to find out, for example, how the President and the Minister of Defense refer and participate in this process, and after they will decide, whether to participate or not.
“Shoushi” charity foundation, taking into account the fact that the idea of the referendum is not wholly understood by the societies of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Diaspora, decided to continue the pan-Armenian referendum at any case, especially, if it is the first arrangement of this kind. The serious problem remains, which is the involvement of the various strata of society in this process. For instance, only the educational staff of 280 schools and colleges participated in this process, but the foundation also considers more essential the participation of the students and pupils in the deliverance of Shoushi, and of its future. To the call of “Shoushi” charity foundation and the Ministry of Education of RA, responded only schoolchildren of Syuniq marz, of course with the efforts of the head of educational sistem of thah marz, Ludwig Haroutiunyan. The foundation did not still succeed in the entire involvement of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenians of Diaspora. The first attempt to do it in Russia failed. A strange indifference was noticed in the all-Russian community organizations and the Embassy of Armenia in Moscow, and even the opening of the photography exhibition devoted to Shoushi in Moscow, did not assist this process.
The amount collected is being used for the implementation of the programs of the foundation. One of our main aims is the implementation of the complex project of the cultural heritage study of town-fortress and its surroundings which is considered the basis for the development of Shoushi. With the amount collected, the plan for the reconstruction of H. Adamian street of Shoushi was projected, the collection and the study of archive materials connected with Shoushi is going on, and the creation of 30 volumes of the book series of “Collected works on Artsakh struggle”, as well as the issuing of internet journal “Shoushi” in three languages (Armenian, Russian, and English). Soon, the foundation will publish a limited number of the list of 220 monuments of Shoushi, which will be presented to the Government of Nagorno-Karabakh for the approval. A special scientific expedition is being made up for the study works of the caverns of Hounot canyon. The foundation opened the National Internet Picture Gallery of Photography, where the portraits of significant people and pictures showing different events, collected from the communities of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Diaspora, will be illustrated. The foundation will establish a special fund with the goal of opening a National Picture Gallery of Photography in Shoushi. The internet variant of National Picture Gallery of Photography is already opened on the website , wich is being enreached by the sent pictures (original or digital) from different parts of the world.
The foundation considers its starting point the involvement of all Armenians in the process of Artsakh restoration. The organization’s initiative of the referendum connected with the legend around Shoushi town-fortress is one more attempt to unite all Armenians. It is also a unique barometer for our unification, which responds to the question on how well our nation is ready to unite, to build with the mutual help, to reconstruct our ancient town-fortress. In this sense, Armenians need a new awakening and a new unification.

Bakour Karapetyan.
Writer, publicist.


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