them give me a car and I'll have the 16th, otherwise
what's the point of having more," says Emma,
a mother of 15 children who moved from Ashtarak
with her family and resided in Azerbajian's (formerly
called) Lachin region in 1997.
The village, Pirjahan, was renamed as Goghtanik
and the region is now called Kashatagh, and became
the sixth region of Karabakh (the fifth region
located on the north of Lachin is former Azerbaijani
Kialbajar region that was renamed as Shahumian).
"Before my marriage I decided to have seven
children," says Emma's husband Sergey Poghosyan.
"At my wedding day when my father was toasting
for me he said: 'I wish you to sit around the
table with seven children.'
"So, I decided to have seven more children
for my father's sake. And I became a father of
14 children. And the 15th child was born in honor
Emma's 15th child, Artsakh, was born in 1998
in Kashatagh's hospital. Emma and Sergey have
six grandchildren. Their three daughters are married,
two of them live in Ashtarak and third daughter
lives in the neighboring village.
Emma and Sergey and their large family are part
of a project carried out by the Armenian government
to resettle Lachin and in doing so merge Armenia
(Lachin is the territory separating Karabakh
from Armenia, taken by Armenian military in 1992.
By renaming and resettling Lachin, the government
of Armenian merge two Armenian states.)
"Our living conditions were very difficult.
I was working in Ashtarak's Institute of Radiophysics.
The work had been stopped. Then I started to work
in college. But there was no money there. Later
Anahit persuaded me to come here," says Sergey.
Danielyan was head of Goghtanik village and thanks
to her there are many of her former acquaintances
from Ashtarak now living in the village. However,
like in other villages of Kashatagh, there are
many residents from different regions of Armenia
living in the village. And despite the region
is one of administrative areas of Karabakh, there
are almost no Karabakhis living there.
Kashatagh region was created in December 1993
and started to be populated. With the assistance
of administration residents built new houses on
the roofless walls left in Azerbaijani villages.
In 1992, when Armenian military troops conquered
the region, there was a military order that villages
should be burned, so that they would be uninhabitable
for Azeris who might try to return. A year later
the resettlement program began.
At present there are about 130 villages, with
50 schools, a criterion for establishing residences.
New residents are attracted to the region by
government privileges that pay each family 20,000
drams (about $40) plus 5,000 drams (about $10)
for each family member and 120,000 drams (about
$240) for cattle credit over a 20-year period.
Each family also gets 200 kilowatts of free electricity.
Water is free, and there is no tax on agriculture.
"We don't receive everybody," says
head of Resettlement Department of Kashatagh's
administration Robert Matevosyan, "as sometimes
it happens when people come, get an aid and then
disappear. They aren't lazy to come here from
Yerevan to get those 20,000 Drams (travel expenses
are free for the new residents). We talk much
with them and only after that we find out that
they come here for getting permanent residence."
to a lack of finances, the cattle credit has a
two-year delay. There are some residents, however,
who have been waiting for the credit since 1999.
During his second year in the village Sergey
was given cattle credits and purchased two cows.
They bred and in three years their number increased
to five. He also has 10 sheep. He works in Berdzor
(former Lachin city) in Capital Construction Department
as carpenter-woodman, where he makes 35,000 drams
(about $70). He also gets 15,000 drams of allowance
for children. His wife is working as a cleaning
woman in Goghtanik's school, his son Gurgen is
a watchman and he earns 6,000 Drams.
The government of Karabakh still owes the family
a car - as families with many children are entitled
to a free car.
"In the beginning we were very pitiful,"
Emma says. "We had nothing. But when we got
cattle credit our living conditions improved a
little. We had just been resuming our natural
course. But still it hard enough, it's not easy
to raise 15 children. Seven of them are studying
in school. If only they helped us with stationery.
Agape helps us with clothes but that's not the
Agape is the only international organization
that is functioning in the resettled territory,
as the world community regards that territory
as occupied, and its re-settlers as colonizers.
Diplomats regard the 3000-square kilometer corridor
as occupied territory, but Kashatagh's officials
regard it as liberated territory and they rename
the settlements, either restoring their historical
names or giving other Armenian names.
the re-settlers Kashatagh is an escape from Armenia
with the difference being that here they don't
become refugees but landowners. And it is only
the officials who talk about the re-settlement
as a patriotic action. For the new residents it
is simply an opportunity to improve their living
"If I say that I've come here to be a hero
it won't be true," says director of Goghtanik
village's school Alik Tonoyan, who came from Baghramyan
region's Dalarik village, "my family consisting
of seven people was hungry. Me and my wife were
teachers in school but we hadn't got enough money
for bread. And now I help my parents from here.
"In ten days I'll sell my pig and will earn
$150. Every year I earn 300,000 Drams from potatoes.
In Yerevan we used to pay for apples and pears
and here it's for free you can just pick and eat.
Here, nature gives and working people take. The
heroism was when guys took these territories.
And now, who knows, maybe in this house where
I walk, the blood of an Armenian man was shed.
And now it is my land, my family is here and if
war begins I will fight. I know the place of my
In the village there is the biggest water-supply
in Alik's house, where Azeri tractor driver Ali
Mohammed, whose Communist Party card was found
in the storeroom, lived before. Keeping an ample
supply of water is symbolic for Alik, as in the
village where he previously he had to pay 30 drams
for a bucket of water.
The 38 kilometers of dirt roads from Berdzor
to Goghtanik village, which was founded in 1995,
is located on the slope of one of the three gorges
stretching to the north.
When the village school was first opened there
were only seven pupils. Now there are 30. Villagers
remember the day, when first child was born six
years ago. That child's umbilical cord was cut
by the mother. The latest child was born in May
For the present moment there are 22 families
(84 people) in the village. An abandoned Azerbaijani
cemetery is at one of the village's edges and
at another edge there is an Armenian graveyard,
where there are already four graves.
Matevosyan recalls that five or six years ago
he took bread with him, when he went to village,
to give it to half-starved villagers. Now villagers
can feed about 10 people and send them off satisfied.
Villagers tell that several years ago people
used to go to Goris from Goghtanik for buying
necessary foodstuff. It was impossible to buy
bread even in Berdzor. Now there is a shop in
the village, where one can buy the most necessary
items, vodka and cigarettes.
Different dialects of Armenian language are mixed
in Goghtanik, where people from different regions
of Armenia are gathered, from Sisian, Echmiadsin,
Ashtarak, Eghegnadzor and Yerevan.
"A new type of Armenians is shaping,"
says the latest re-settler of the village Hrach
Beyleryan, who came from Yerevan two months ago
with his wife Hasmik to reside here. "It
would be great if we built a chapel here to rally
villagers. Because now only vodka rallies people."
His two sons are serving in the army. They were
jobless in Yerevan and thanks to his wife's persuasion
they came here to be able to live.
"We were in such a condition that we had
to sell our house and leave Armenia. It had already
been impossible to live," says Hasmik. "Now
we feel that everything will be fine. We have
work and we will get cattle credit. Next year
there will be a harvest."
The couple work as teachers of Armenian language
and literature in the village school. Together
they earn about $90 a month. (In Kashatagh teachers'
salary is two times higher than in Armenia.)
They were given a common single-room house, which
is decorated with canvases hanging on walls and
a library brought from Yerevan. The struggle with
discomforts of their house is an opportunity to
fill Hrach's everyday life with work.
"When one famous poet had known that I was
going to go to Lachin he said: 'What a patriotic
thing you are going to do.'
"If I said that I was going to leave for
Baden-Baden he wouldn't sleep at night,"
says Hrach, 50. "I was sick and tired of
Yerevan. I was a translator and I hadn't got money
for months. I'd been cursing officials until I
became 50. After 50 I will devote myself to teaching.
Now I've realized that I'm more satisfied when
I teach a kid something."
He recalled lines of his poem, which he had written
two years ago. He shows the meaning of going to
Lachin in that poem:
A lamb I am driven to the pasture of "Homeland"
And the grass is loathsome, but where else could
Even if an autumn fly, I need some warmth
So as not to cling to the wall and dry up.
"That fly is me when I was looking for warmth,"
Hrach says. "I came here to find that warmth."