STEPANAKERT—On Wednesday, May 15, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian returned to Los Angeles from a mission in Armenia and Artsakh. The Prelate first participated in the meeting of the Canonization Committee at Holy Etchmiadzin, from where he headed to Artsakh for the official opening of the “New Cilicia” village sponsored by the Catholicosate of Cilicia.
The “New Cilicia” project was implemented by the joint efforts of the Catholicosate of Cilicia and the government of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh to build single residence homes, a kindergarten, medical center, community center, and a church in the Martakert Province to repopulate the strategically important region.
The first phase included the renovation of the existing elementary school, the drawing of the village blueprint, which was ratified by the government, and the building of the first ten homes in late 2012. The homes were presented to families of martyred soldiers and young couples selected by the government. In the meantime, construction and renovations continue on 32 existing homes, which is expected to be completed in the coming few months.
The Catholicosate of Cilicia delegation, comprised of the Prelates, Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian (Prelate of Tehran), Bishop Papken Tcharian (Prelate of Isfahan), Ara Demirjian and Vahe Yacoubian (Central Executive members), Edward Babakhanians (Chairman of the Tehran Prelacy Executive Council), and Khatchig Dedeyan (Catholicosate Chancellor), arrived in Artsakh on Friday, May 10.
On the morning of Saturday, May 11, the delegation met with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan and Primate Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan, and firstly conveyed the blessings and well wishes of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. State-church ties, socioeconomic situation in Artsakh and regional trends were the focus of the meeting. President Sahakyan expressed his gratitude to His Holiness for the close relations that exist between the Catholicosate and the Republic of Artsakh, as evidenced by the building of the “New Cilicia” village, and invited His Holiness to visit Artsakh and personally bless the citizens. The President wished that the “New Cilicia” village becomes the symbol of collaboration between Artsakh and the Diaspora, stressing the importance of the Diaspora’s support in similar repopulation efforts. President Sahakyan also underlined the vital role of the Armenian Apostolic Church in preserving Armenian national identity in the Diaspora, noting that the church has had a great contribution in strengthening and expanding ties with the Motherland. Both sides emphasized the need for continuous deepening the state-church interrelations, considering it among the most important bases of the Motherland-Diaspora unshakable unity.
Accompanied by Artsakh Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan, the delegation then headed to the “New Cilicia” village, where they were greeted and welcomed by Minister of Agriculture Karen Shahramanyan, Head of Martakert Province Regional Administration Vladik Khachatryan, “New Ghazanchi” village head, elementary school principal, and “New Cilicia” residents.
The inauguration of the village began with a special prayer led by the Prelates, followed by the reading of letter of blessing of Catholicos Aram I, in which His Holiness stated that Artsakh gained independence owing to the collective faith, strong will, and blood of our people. Gaining independence takes sacrifice, but maintaining and strengthening independence and democracy takes even greater sacrifice and collective efforts, stated our Pontiff. A mighty and prosperous Artsakh is a pan-Armenian responsibility, and it is with knowledge and purpose that the Catholicosate of Cilicia undertook this project with its Prelacies; we will continue to lend our unwavering support to Artsakh, concluded the letter of His Holiness.
In his address, Prime Minister Harutyunyan explained the historical significance of the region designated for the “New Cilicia” repopulation project. The New Ghazanchi region, explained the Prime Minister, was one of the major theatres of the war and played a significant role in the Artsakh army’s victory. The Prime Minister expressed thanks and appreciation to His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and the Prelacies of the Holy See of Cilicia for their sponsorship of this important effort.
Remarks were also delivered by Head of Martakert Province Regional Administration Vladik Khachatryan, the school principal, and Minister of Agriculture Karen Shahramanyan. Mr. Shahramanyan presented the upcoming phases of the project, which includes the building of 29 new homes and the completion of the renovation of 32 existing homes.
The breaking ground and blessing of the foundation for the new homes followed, construction on which will begin immediately. The delegation then had the opportunity to visit the new homes to congratulate and bless the families on this joyous occasion.