city sits about five kilometers from Azerbaijan..
It seems that the road from Vanadzor to Noyemberian
passes through a fairy tale of high mountains
covered with forests. The Debed River flows to
the right of the road, while a railway runs on
the left side.
Noyemberian comes into view, a city located only
five kilometers from the border with Azerbaijan.
The weather is warm as Spring. It seems as if
the blood orange is the symbol of this region.
Each garden is full of ripened and yellowish fruits.
Seventy-four year old Shavo is a tinsmith from
neighboring Koti village but he works in Noyemberian,
helping to reconstruct the House of Culture.
Im glad I have work. My son and grandson
work with me here. Its not good that not
everybody has work, he says worriedly.
Everybody in Noyemberian thinks about finding
work. Deputy Mayor Grisha Gulkanyan says that
people used to work in a machinery plant, in a
cheese factory or on collective farms. Today each
person is alone with his land and cattle.
The residents of Noyemberian complain that they
have no irrigation water. The 31-year-old Voskehat,
who sells candles in church, says: When
lands and gardens were privatized, the situation
with irrigation water was good but now it is very
hard. There is no profit from farming. The majority
of fruit-bearing trees were cut down and used
Although Noyemberian stands on the edge of forests,
many residents have no firewood for winter.
Today one cubic meter of wood costs 5,000
drams (about $9) and one family can use up 10-15
cubic meters during winter. How can they buy wood?
It is forbidden to cut trees in the forests and
few people can afford to use gas,| says
Araksia says her people are "pliable".
The Noyemberian province of Tavush region consists
of 19 villages. Some 6,000 people live in Noyemberian
itself, with 5,000 in Koghb and 3,500 in Berdavan.
Zorakan, a border village, 13 kilometers from
Noyemberian, is completely repopulated with refugees
The deputy mayor says that 100-150 families have
left the city in recent years, while another 150-200
families have seen individual members depart for
Locals insist that they have no desire to work
abroad. Norik, a 50-year-old shoemaker, assures
that he would never give up the opportunity to
earn one dram in his native land for 10 drams
abroad. But when it becomes impossible to earn
even that one dram then they have no choice but
According to Gulkanyan, the situation is even
worse in Barekamavan (about 31 kilometers from
Noyemberian, about a kilometer from the Azeri
border). Residents leave the village pretty often,
he says, adding: We have no young people,
no births. Only old people live here. This frontier
village was bombed. Special attention must be
granted to locations like that.
During the years of war Gulkanyan was deputy
commander of the Noyemberian regiment. He says:
The frontier territories must be strengthened.
Armenia starts from its borders. Todays
soldier is also strong when he feels that there
is a settlement behind him, when he looks back
from the military posts and sees there are lights
behind him. He becomes psychologically more vigorous
When residents of Noyemberian describe themselves,
they make comparisons with the wonderful nature
surrounding the city.
Araksia, a saleswoman aged 37, says: We
have a pliable character, we are hospitable, open-hearted
and love our land. However, if necessary, we know
what we must do. It was one of many things that
saved us during the war.
In 1990-1991 the first shells exploded in Noyemberian.
Locals say that they were warned to expect attacks
but it still came as a shock. People were going
to see what was happening without thinking of
the extreme danger. During one day 120 shells
were dropped on the city.
During those years nothing could stop people.
The most important thing was to protect the homeland.
We used to be offended with each other saying,
why he takes that gun and not me?
As a result of bombing, the city suffered not
only human victims but it also suffered emotionally,
The fertile lands of Noyemberian, which once
helped its people to live, are now on frontier
territories. Today these lands are mined, under
fire and unused.
Our peach-trees and red orange trees are
there now. Peaches of Gogveli are especially well
known. Sometimes it happened when people went
there and were blown up, says Araksia.
deputy mayor says border towns like his
Gulkanyan says that he heard on television that
by an order of the President 15 million drams
(about $26,000) was allotted to Tavush and Lori
regions for de-mining work, after which lands
can be used again.
One of the major problems facing the city will
have been resolved this year, when the Government
provides money for families whose apartments were
damaged as a result of a 1997 earthquake of magnitude
seven. Sums of $1,200 or $1,050 are being alloted
to residents according to the level of damage
The deputy mayor assures that several communities
of Noyemberian province can produce good crops
if a project to collect water can be brought to
life. Such a project was on the books during Soviet
times, but stopped with independence.
We have much water in mountains. If we
can manage to make that water flow down to our
settlements then the problem of irrigation water
will be resolved for many communities. We expect
that promises made by the Government will come
true, he says.
Anyway, today the sky above Noyemberian is peaceful.
The sounds of exploding mines are not heard now,
people simply need a little attention.
Serving her customers Araksia insists that the
dried fruits of Noyemberian taste like nowhere
else in Armenia. She says: I feel good only
in my homeland. The important thing is that now
we have peace and the rest is ok.