“This is paradise,” said President Armen Sarkissian Friday when he was visiting the Chinari village in the Tavush Province of Armenia, which was the target of brazen attacks by Azerbaijani forces beginning on July 12. “People here live in paradise. Many people in our country don’t even know that paradise is so close.”
Sarkissian was visiting Armenia’s northeastern border region to meet the residents who braved the attacks and whose perseverance and courage protected and defended the homeland from enemy aggressors.
Accompanied by Tavush Governor Hayk Chonanyan and the Primate of the Tavush Diocese Bishop Bagrat Gakstanyan, the president first met with the men and women of Armenia’s Armed Forces stationed there, presenting gifts to several distinguished servicemen.
Sarkissian called the troops heroes, saying Armenia is proud of its military.
“Our servicemen are the ones who truly shape our history and everyone owes them for the peace and security of our country,” said Sarkissian.
The Armenian government on Thursday approved 277 million drams ($570,000) in additional aid to four villages in Tavush that were damaged during the Azerbaijani aggression. According to the provincial administration 89 houses in those villages were hit by Azerbaijani forces. The initial allocation was 25 million drams.
Suren Papikyan, Armenia’s Minister of Local Government and Infrastructures said during a cabinet meeting on Thursday that more than 110 million drams of the new government funding will be pay for ongoing house repairs in the border villages of Aygepar, Nerkin Karmiraghbyur and Chinari. Another 84.3 million drams, he said, will be spent on refurbishing schools, which were not damaged by Azerbaijani shelling, and bomb shelters in these villages, as well as the nearby Movses village. The remainder of the funds will pay for the construction of a small park in Nerkin Karmiraghbyur and a housing complex in Chinari.
The president visited the village school, which was heavily damaged by Azerbaijani artillery strikes.
While meeting with school officials and students, Sarkissian said his sons, Hayk and Vardan, have donated new computer equipment to the school as part a campaign they have launched to donate technology to schools facilitate an easier connection by the students to their peers in the Diaspora.
“As president, as an individual and as the Sarkissian family, I support you,” said the president when talking to the school children who had gathered to greet him. “In a way I have become the friend of this school and this village.”
“Consider that this is my school as well, and if there are any issues feel free to tell me,” said Sarkissian who added that his office will resolve any issues with the school and the village.
He thanked the residents of Chinari for standing by the country’s men and women in uniform and keeping the borders safe.
“We will win if we are all united, in a united Armenia, Artsakh and Diaspora,” the president told the residents of Chinari. “I am very optimistic and confident that we will overcome all difficulties through unity. All the greats have spoken about this. We are learning poems about our national unity at schools.”
“The Armenian next to you is your brother or sister,” Sarkissian said, adding if everyone thought this way, then “no one can defeat you in life.”
During his visit to Tavush, Sarkissian also toured the Tavush Textile factory, which was also damaged during last month’s attacks. The factory, which mainly produces gloves for construction workers, was also, in the last several months, producing face masks for healthcare workers combatting the coronavirus crisis.
The directors of the factory walked the president through the glove manufacturing process and added that their products are not only used domestically but are also imported to other CIS countries. They also announced that the factory will begin operating a second location in the nearby Paravakar village.
Tavush Textile on Saturday announced that 20,400 of its medical face masks will be donated as part of Armenia’s emergency relief effort to Lebanon, following the massive explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.