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Kovsakan (previously named Zangelan, Zangilan) is a town in the Kashatagh province of the Republic of Mountainous Karabakh.

How Long Do We Have to Live and Work In a Foreign Country? Friday, 02 November 2012 11:37

`In Syria my husband dug holes with his own crane and besides our everyday expenses we had an income of 30 thousand US dollars. But how long do we have to live and work in a foreign country?' Nazik Ohanyan, who moved to the town of Kovsakan, Qashatagh region, from Syria three years ago says with obvious uncertainty.

In 2000 Nazik's husband Zhirayr Tonapetyan, displeased with his business in Armenia, decided to visit Artsakh. He approved of the new settlement and decided to move to Kovsakan with his family.

According to deputy Mayor of Kovsakan Gor Tovmasyan before the war in Syria 6 Armenian families moved to Kovsakan, during the war 8 families did.

The multi-flat house for the 6 families that moved to Kovsakan during the war in Syria was repaired by the Toufenkyan fund, while the construction material for the face-lift of the building was allocated by the government,' the deputy mayor says.

The Tonapetyans as well as most of the Armenians from Syria in Kovsakan farm the land.

`We imported new machinery from Syria that enables to cultivate the land better. My husband together with his friend Alishan cultivated 350-400 ha this year. Last year the Armenians from Syria sowed 900 ha arable land,' Lady Nazik says and adds that the government supports them much with seeds and diesel fuel.

In answer to the question what problem of theirs is of top priority Lady Nazik smiled and added, `We have no problem. We shall solve them ourselves. I think only when my house will be like a real house. First it was too difficult, when I saw the ruined houses I thought we would not be able to adapt the place. But the next day as I saw my 7 children freely and happily running in the yard my heart was filled with joy'.

Lady Nazik's 18-year-old son Raffi says that he liked Kovsakan very much, only the ruined houses seemed frightening first.

For me it was surprising how one may go out in worn-out clothes while the local people got surprised `when I went out in clean clothes and sprayed on with perfume. According to them there is no need to dress neatly in Kovsakan,' Raffi recalls.

Quite surprised at himself Raffi confesses that although there is nothing special in Kovsakan he begins to miss it after ten days wherever he goes.

Doctor Moushegh Aroyan, leaving his own clinic in Syria, has moved to Kovsakan with his wife and children.

`I had decided to move to my homeland until the war began. I heard on TV that immigrants are being supported, I called the corresponding phone number and they confirmed the information. We are satisfied with the present-day conditions, we have been provided with a flat. My wife Silva and I got a job at the local hospital. Of course the conditions here are quite hard but some time is needed to get accustomed to the situation.'

However, the physician does not even think of returning to Syria. `I moved here to stay for the rest of my life for my children so as we live and create for our nation'.

At present another multi-flat house is being repaired by state funds for other 6 Armenian families from Syria to settle in. In parallel with the housing problem attempts are made to provide the settlers with jobs.

Qnar Babayan

From Qamishli to Kovsakan: Planting New Roots in Artsakh

Mаry Mamyan
December 25, 2013

Sipping coffee in their apartment in Kovsakan, a town in southern Artsakh, Jirayr takes a friendly jibe at his mother-in-law, 71 year-old Mrs. Khatoun.

“She’s more Dashnak than even the most committed Dashhnak.”

Mrs. Khatoun came to Kovsakan from the Syrian town of Qamishli last December. Now, she spends her time following the news, both local and international. She also likes to read the New Testament, a copy of which is placed at her bedside.

“She read it so much, she knows it by heart,” jokes Jirayr.

Mrs. Khatoun attended Armenian school in Qamishli up to the sixth grade. She knows how to read and write Armenian. When the school closed, local Armenians refused to send their kids to the Arab school. They felt it wasn’t the right thing to do.

Mrs. Khatoun has three daughters and a son. She was 24 when her husband died in a car crash. According to local Armenian tradition, she never remarried. “An Armenian woman must take care of her children,” she notes, adding that the community took care of widowed families.

She now lives with her son Viken and his family in an apartment building allocated to Syrian-Armenians who have relocated to Artsakh.

Viken Ohan and his wife Tamar have four children – Samvel, Bardi, Maral and Bekor.

Viken proudly points out that in Syria, Armenian parents give their children only Armenian names. Samvel is the name of Viken’s father. It’s important because local Arabs address others as the ‘father of so and so’. For example, Viken must be addressed as, ‘the father of Samvel’.

The father confesses that it was difficult when they first moved to Kovsakan. The kids encountered various language problems in school, especially since many words used in class were Russian.

Viken says that he misses Syria. He worked as a lathe turner and also owned land which he cultivated. He visited Armenia in 2005 and in 2010. Deciding to relocate, he first wanted to sell of his belongings so that he could start his own business here. But, when war broke out in Syria, he was forced to flee. He only had time to sell his car.

In Artsakh, Viken has fifty acres on which he grows wheat and barley.

The family is now waiting to move into an apartment building in Kovsakan now being erected especially for Syrian-Armenians.

1st Photo – Viken and his mother Mrs. Khatoun; 2nd – Maral, Barti, and Bekor

Photos: Eric Grigorian