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Nagorno Karabakh Gets Into The Bird Business

EurasiaNet.org http://www.eurasianet.org/node/64883 Jan 23 2012 NY

Last week, EurasiaNet.org reported on plans to turn breakaway Nagorno Karabakh into a correctional facility for Armenian convicts. To some, mindful of Armenia's extensive presence in and support for the predominantly ethnic Armenian territory, that may bring to mind the colonial-era relationship between Great Britain and Australia, the British Empire's convict colony of choice. But the Australia references do not end there.

Just as was the case with British convicts in Australia, outcasts from Armenia can also find ostriches in their new homeland. These are not going to be the squint-eyed Australian emus, but, rather, their taller African cousins.

Karabakhi entrepreneur Ararat Bagirian imported the birds from Kenya last August and plans to farm them for eggs, meat and feathers, the Russian news agency Regnum reported. New businesses in Karabakh are not a dime a dozen, so, to encourage the venture along, the de facto government gave Bagirian a 25-million-dram (about $65,000) credit for his new business.

After all, as the saying goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Nor is this the first example of a South Caucasus fascination with the birds -- both Azerbaijan, which claims Karabakh as its own, and Armenia have ostrich operations, too. Georgia, meanwhile, is keeping an eye on the abandoned ostriches of ousted strongman Aslan Abashidze, but local farmers are skeptical about their economic potential.

It remains to be seen whether or not this latest feathery scheme can help alleviate Karabakh's economic woes, but, so far, the ostriches have adjusted to the breakaway territory's climate pretty well, Bagirian said.

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