The opening ceremony was attended by a French-Armenian delegation comprising guest of honor Patrick Devedjian, who is president of the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine (a district bordering Paris) and minister of France’s Economic Recovery Plan; representatives of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate, headed by Chairman Bedros Terzian, all of whom have had an invaluable role in securing the support of the Hauts-de-Seine General Council; and Patrick Alexanian, a member of the council and representative of the opposition party.
Also present at the event were RA Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Territorial Administration Armen Gevorgyan; Hayastan All-Armenian Fund Executive Director Ara Vardanyan; Tavush Governor Armen Ghularyan; and the mayor of the communities which will benefit from the project.
Through the efforts of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s French affiliate and with financing from the Hauts-de-Seine General Council, the old Khashtarak-Lusahovit-Ditavan irrigation pipeline was rebuilt and extended by 500 meters, enabling it to provide ample irrigation for 600 hectares of land across the three communities. The reconstructed pipeline was renamed the Armenian-French Friendship Canal in honor of its sponsors.
The project’s vital importance to the agricultural productivity of Khashtarak, Lusahovit, and Ditavan was underscored by the fact that their residents, young and old alike, attended the opening ceremony to share their joy with the guests.
The Hauts-de-Seine General Council has implemented agriculture-infrastructure projects in Tavush since 2008. It is noteworthy that both the ruling and opposition parties of the council have voted unanimously for the proposal to fund assistance projects in Tavush.
On the day before the opening ceremony, during a reception hosted by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund Executive Board, Devedjian announced that he Hauts-de-Seine General Council has resolved to grant 500,000 euros annually for rural-development projects in Armenia. Devedjian said yearly renewals of the grant will be contingent upon the successful implementation of previous initiatives, and added that assessing recent projects funded by the council was the main reason for his and Alexanian’s visit to Armenia.
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Devedjian said he was satisfied with the high quality of the project and reaffirmed his commitment to continuing to collaborate with the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund.
Speaking on behalf of the Armenian government, Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan expressed gratitude to the Hauts-de-Seine General Council for its generous support of economic development in Tavush. Gevorgyan also stressed the importance of the Armenian-French Friendship Canal in terms of its expected socio-economic benefits to the area’s residents.
In his remarks, Executive Director Ara Vardanyan stated his hope that crops grown as a direct result of the rebuilt pipeline will soon reach the markets of Yerevan.
On his part, Bedros Terzian addressed members of local communities. “You are here, close to the border, and face many difficulties,” the chairman of the fund’s French affiliate said. “We diasporans live far away from the border, yet the geographical distance that separates us not only does not lessen but in fact doubles our responsibility to be of assistance to you.”
Apart from funding the French-Armenian Friendship Canal, the Hauts-de-Seine General Council grant has provided Tavush farmers with seeds and saplings of a variety of plants, including fruits such as dates, which are novelties in Armenia. The resulting cash crops are anticipated to further boost local agribusiness. Already newly introduced Mara de Bois strawberries, which can be harvested three times a year, are being sold in local markets.
The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund continues to carry out a complement of projects in Tavush, within the framework of its Rural Development Program. Recently the list of six villages receiving development assistance from the fund was expanded with the addition of eight communities — Getahovit, Vazashen, Aygehovit, Kayan, Sarigyugh, Berkaber, Tsakhkavan, and Sevkar — where a variety of initiatives will be implemented.
Toward this goal, the fund’s French affiliate and the Hauts-de-Seine General Council are expected soon to reach an agreement, by which the council will award a grant for the reconstruction and expansion of the Aygehovit-Vazashen water pipeline. The grant will also make possible the building of a plantation, several greenhouses, and two community-operated farming-equipment centers.