LOS ANGELES — At the close of Telethon 2014, Armenia Fund raised a total of $12,399,550 worldwide. The funds collected will be used to complete the Vardenis-Martakert Highway, an integral road connecting northern Artsakh to the rest of Armenia, as well as many other important projects in the Armenian homeland.
The Thanksgiving Day fundraiser featured prominent members of the Armenian community in the United States and Karabakh Armenian leaders. It was broadcast live by Armenian and U.S.-Armenian TV channels.
The Vardenis-Martakert Highway construction project is of major economic and strategic significance. When completed, it will function as an additional lifeline between Armenia and Artsakh, helping boost the economies and specifically tourism industries of the twin republics.
Passenger and cargo traffic between Armenia and Karabakh has until now been mainly carried out through Goris-Lachin highway that stretches for more than 80 kilometers from the Karabakh capital Stepanakert to the southeastern Armenian town of Goris. It was built in 1997 with the financial assistance of the Armenian Diaspora and U.S.-Armenian billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in particular.
The second, 116-kilometer-long road link, which began to be constructed in 2011, will run from the northern Karabakh town of Martakert to Vartenis in eastern Armenia through Kelbajar district.
Officials say that the new highway will not only shorten travel time between Yerevan and Stepanakert but also spur economic activity in nearby rural communities and bring more tourists to Karabakh. It should also benefit a major Armenian company mining gold and copper in northern Karabakh. The company, Base Metals, is Karabakh’s single largest corporate employer and taxpayer.
Armenia fund began financing the project after its previous telethon and other fundraisers in November 2013 that netted more than $22 million in donations. Most of that money was contributed by wealthy Russian-Armenian entrepreneurs.
“With proceeds from the 2014 Telethon, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund will complete the asphalting of the entire highway as well as install all remaining safety and navigation components, including traffic signs and lane marks,” the Diaspora-funded charity said on November 10.
Thousands of donations were received during the 12-hour telethon from every part of the United States and from throughout the world.