YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The All-Armenian Fund Hayastan is launching its biggest yet fund-raising drive to build a new highway in Nagorno-Karabakh after having connected the region to Armenia proper with a modern road–fund executives said on Monday. The new 169 kilometers long road is intended to link Karabakh’s northern and southern districts and will cost an estimated $25 million–Hayastan’s executive director Vahan Ter-Ghevondian told reporters. He said the road would stretch from the northern town of Martakert all the way south to Hadrut–passing through the Karabakh capital Stepanakert. In the most visible manifestation of its eight-year activities–the fund has already spent around $9 million to construct an 80 kilometer highway between Karabakh and Armenia.
Years of Soviet neglect and the 1991-94 war with Azerbaijan has resulted in poor transport infrastructure inside Karabakh. Traffic between Stepanakert and Karabakh’s remote areas was routinely routed through surrounding Azerbaijani districts before the conflict erupted in 1988.
"Of course–we do not anticipate to collect the sum in the course of this year," Hayastan’s Ter- Ghevondian said. But he said fund-raising activities will soon get underway in Armenia and Diaspora. One of them–another telethon in Los Angeles–is expected next November. One such telethon in May 1996 provided the bulk of the money for the Lachin road.
Hayastan’s board of trustees met in Yerevan last week to give a new impetus to the fund after a slowdown in its operations resulting from the change of government in Armenia in February 1998. The pan-Armenian fund has to date spent over $53 million on mostly infrastructure projects in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.