Interview with Mayor of Shushi Karen AVAGYMYAN


-Mr. Avagigyan, 20 years have passed since the liberation of Shushi. What has been done in this period for restoration of the town?

-Huge work has been done in the past 20 years to restore the town; especially during the recent 5 years, when the authorities have paid a special attention to Shushi and finances from the “Armenia” Fund have been allocated for it.  In this period a number of streets, including Ghazanchechots, Hakhumyan, Proshyan, were resurfaced and improved, the roofs of 12 high-rise buildings have been repaired, the capital repair of the school after Kh. Abovyan and the palace of culture is in progress with support of  the “Armenia” Fund. Large-scale works have been done by the program of capital investments: the branch of the Yerevan Agrarian University is constructed  (to be finished in 2013); the  house of the Institute for Noble Maidens “Mariamian”, where the Ministry of Culture will be located after moving to Shushi in May, is close to be finished. The house of the court and the exhibition hall are also constructed now.  Last year we started building a boarding school, as well as a technological college, constructed with support of the French benefactors. Works will be continued. We are planning to improve the Nikol Duman street. Some streets  will be resurfaced as before.

-It is obvious that construction is in progress in Shushi. But will the architectural appearance of the town be preserved?

-Honestly to say, at the initial stage not too much attention was  paid to the architectural appearance, but in the recent years it has become a priority. For example, the exhibition hall is restored with preservation of the old facade. Thanks to the Armenian sponsors from Moscow, the Church of Ghazanchechots is also restored, taking into account its old shape. However, it requires substantial costs, but Shushi should preserve its appearance. It has to revive its glory, not become just an ordinary town. Last year two hotels were opened, the Eastern bazaar, bath-houses were restored and got their historic appearance in Shushi with the financial support of benefactors. However, there are monuments the restoration of which does not seem possible.

-20 years have passed, but still we see a lot ruins here. What are you doing to tackle this problem?

-The issue is in discussion. We are planning to preserve some ruins and restore the others. We could, certainly, remove all and that’s it, but Можно, конечно, снести, и дело с концом, но потом мы можем не простить себе. Хотелось бы сохранить то, что осталось, но это требует больших денег.

-Mr. Avagimyan, are there many people who would like to settle in the ancient fortress?

-In the recent 5-6 we have witnessed a growth of population: both natural and mechanical. Many would like to settle in Shushi, but we are unable to provide housing for all. Now the population of Shushi is 4250 people. The growth of population is caused by redeployment of a military unit to Shushi:  we have already built 3  houses for servicemen, many of whom are settled in Shushi. It also created some new jobs: many of the Shushi male residents serve in the military unit. We hope that moving of the Ministry of culture, courts, the Agrarian university to Shushi and opening of the special technological school and  a boarding school here will also stimulate the growth of population. I am most of all concerned with the problem of unemployment, especially among women.

-In the Soviet times Shush was well-known as  health resort. Do you have plans to revive its past glory?

-Not yet. We are planning construction of mainly sport centers  and hotels. One of the stockholders of the Grand Hotel, Karo Kebabjyan, has such plans: to build a sports complex.

-Muslim monuments have also preserved in Shushi. What is being done to protect them?

-They are mainly Persian mosques, and they are preserved. Anyhow, we are doing our best for it. Appropriate works are carried out; but time is also doing its work.

-A couple of years ago people, wishing to settle in Shushi, said that there were no free lands to build on. How is the situation now?

-It is a year that the allocation of lands has stopped to let cartographic and measurement works. The property certificates for sites and flats have been given without proper coordination, so we have a lot of unclear issues. Only when the cartography works are finished, it will be clear whether there are free sites or not.

-How would you imagine Shushi 20 year later?

-It will be a nice, comfortable town, without ruins. But it will preserve its past appearance, a cultural and tourist center.



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