New Hayastan Fund Chair Assumes Duties

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Vahan Ter-Ghevondian–the new acting executive director of the "Hayastan" All-Armenian Fund formally took over his duties Wednesday–raising hopes for an imminent end of what charity officials called a "slowdown" in its operations–due to months of uncertainty.

Ter-Ghevondian–37–who previously served as Armenia’s ambassador to Argentina–Brazil and Uruguay–was presented to the Hayastan staff in Yerevan by President Robert Kocharian–who expressed hope that he will give a fresh impetus to the fund’s activities.

"The appointment of this young man with extensive diplomatic and Diaspora experience is a good opportunity to rethink the traditions of this pan-Armenian structure and ensure the normal course of its further activities," Kocharian was quoted as saying in the fund’s press release.

Hayastan–which has branches in Armenia and all major Diaspora communities–entered a period of internal bickering after the resignation last February of its long-time executive director–Manushak Petrosian–who was a close associate of former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Within five years of its existence–Hayastan spent a total of $52.3 million on mostly infrastructure projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The best known of these is the construction of a highway linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh–which cost about $9 million.

Most of the fund’s money has been raised in the wealthy Armenian communities of Europe and Americas. Media reports have said that Hayastan’s fund-raising activities have been effectively suspended since February.

"Of course–there has been a slowdown [in fundraising] in the absence of a permanent management," said a Hayastan spokesman–Tigran Paskevichian–in an interview with RFE/RL.

Ter-Ghevondian is expected to be confirmed in the post by Hayastan’s highest body–the board of trustees in April next year.

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