Over $5 Million Raised for North South Highway

LOS ANGELES (RFE/RL)–The Diaspora-led All-Armenian Hayastan Fund secured approximately $5,073,000 in pledges at its annual televised fund-raiser in support of an ambitious plan to link the northern and southern parts of Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) with a modern highway–fund officials said Friday.

They said the money collected during Thursday’s "telethon" broadcast live from Los Angeles to Armenia and major Armenian communities abroad will enable the Fund to complete half of the $25 million project.

Work on the 170-kilometer road–described by Armenian officials as MKR’s future transport "backbone," began in 2000. Several of its sections totaling some 40 kilometers have already been built and are now open for traffic.

The bulk of the contributions came from the Armenian community in the United States. A large part of that was donated by three wealthy Armenian-Americans–with Louise Simone Manoogian and Hrair Hovnanian pledging $1 million each. Another US businessman Albert Boyajian–gave $500,000.

The Armenian Apostolic Church of America contributed $300,000 and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–$115,000.

The result are not final–however–since donations continue to come in. The Phon-a-thon in the East Coast will last until December 7.

This time–the Armenia’s of MKR and Armenia–as well as Armenian communities of the East and West Coasts of the USA–France–Germany–Holland–Argentina–Brazil–and Canada took active part in the event.

Broken down by country/region–participation is as follows: Armenia $210,000 Artsakh $53,000 East Coast USA $1,901,000 West Coast USA $1,713,000 France $650,000 Germany $31,000 Holland $25,000 Argentina $75,000 Brazil $10,000 Canada $5,000

According to the Fund’s deputy director Samvel Yengoyan–most Armenia-based contributors are business owners. "In the past–their participation was negligible. There were some donations–but they were not large and regular," Yengoyan said.

"Now this business class has taken roots in Armenia. They have steady revenues as a result of economic growth and are more willing to engage in charitable work," he added.

Last May–for example–the Fund opened three new apartment buildings in Spitak–an Armenian town razed by the 1988 earthquake. Their $450,000 construction was funded by several businessmen from Armenia.

The planned MKR highway is the biggest of 138 different infrastructure projects in Armenia and MKR implemented by the Fund since its establishment in 1992. The fund has so far spent more than $75 million on the projects

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