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16th Annual Meeting
President Robert Kocharian convened the 16th meeting of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund Board of Trustees on June 19. At the President’s suggestion, National Assembly President Tigran Torosyan and Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan became ex officio members of the Board of Trustees.

The film on the Fund’s activities introduced numerous and diverse projects implemented by the Fund during the last several years.

Executive Director Naira Melkoumian presented an end-of-the-year statement in which she briefly discussed completed projects, as well as the Fund’s future plans and directions. Those present viewed a film on the Fund’s varied activities.

Minister Vartan Oskanian, member of the Board, presented an overview of the Rural Development Program – its mission, its objectives and the way in which it is being approached in partnership with individuals and organizations from the Diaspora, local Armenian NGOs, international organizations and individual countries.

The trustees adopted the Rural Development Program as part of the Armenia Fund mandate, noting that this is a natural continuation of the Fund's initial work to develop a vital link between Armenia and Karabakh, to continue with regional development within Karabakh, and now to extend that same concept of comprehensive infrastructure and economic development to Armenia's villages. The Armenia Fund leadership agreed to continue the regional development program already begun in the Martakert region of NK, by beginning similar work in Martuni and Hadrut. At the same time, the program will begin with a cluster of villages in Tavush, and continue to identify clusters in other regions as well. Minister Oskanian noted that this program will complement the Armenian government's efforts in this area. He added that there are already several dozen individuals and organizations who are ready to become donors and sponsor the specific infrastructure renovation and economic assistance needs of each village. President Kocharian acknowledged that this is a complex program, with noble goals, and that it will be very important to join efforts in making the program successful.

There were personnel issues on the agenda as well. Executive Director Naira Melkoumian resigned, after serving nearly four years in this position. The President acknowledged Mrs. Melkoumian’s great input into the growth and development of the Fund during her term. The members of the Board also expressed their appreciation for a productive and valuable working relationship with Mrs. Melkoumian. Mrs. Melkoumian who had previously served as Foreign Minister of Nagorno Karabakh from 1998-2003 had served as Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Executive Director since 2003.

At the President's suggestion, the Board of Trustees approved Vahe Aghabegians in the position of the Executive Director of the Armenia Fund Executive Board. Also at the President’s suggestion, the Board appointed Minister Oskanian as the Board’s coordinator for the Rural Development Project.

Mr. Aghabegians, an engineer by training, moved to Armenia with his family in 1998, and has served as Advisor to Foreign Minister Oskanian since 1999. In the last 18 months, Mr. Aghabegians had worked specifically on the conceptualization and planning of the Rural Development Program.

Born in Tehran, Mr. Aghabegians was educated in the US, where he established several successful businesses in the IT sector, serving Fortune 500 companies. “I believe in the Armenia Fund's mission,” said Mr. Aghabegians. “This is the unique institution that can make it possible for Armenians around the world to contribute to Armenia's development. I am among those lucky Diasporans that dreamed about an independent Armenia, then brought my family to live in Armenia, and today, have the opportunity to help turn that Armenia into the land of our dreams.

“All my life, I have worked to set up systems, to create mechanisms and operations on a business model, to build human capacity and facilitate self-standing, independent operations that are goal-oriented. I intend to use the same approach and methodology in this position. Naira Melkoumian and the staff of the Armenia Fund, the Armenia Fund affiliates and supporters around the world believe in Armenia and Karabakh, have worked and contributed generously to secure Armenia's and Karabakh's future. I am grateful to have the chance to continue that work.”

The trustees also discussed the Annual Armenia Fund Telethon, to be held this year on Thursday, November 22.

In the course of the meeting Albert and Jean Boghossian brothers (sponsors of the President’s Prize since 2001 as well as many other humanitarian and cultural projects), Kevork Toroyan (representing the Armenia Fund USA East Coast Affiliate for years, Vahe Jazmadarian (Head of the Armenia Fund Comptroller Committee,) Mkrtich Mkrtchian (Armenia Fund, Canada), Albert Boyajian (Armenia Fund, USA), Jorge Vartparonian (Armenia Fund, Argentina), and Michel Pazoumian (Armenia Fund, France) were acknowledged for their valuable input into the Fund’s activities and were awarded with the Anania Shirakatsi medal. A number of other benefactors were given Certificates of Appreciation.

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