The ANC of Albany has secured a Friendship City between Troy, New York, and the town of Martakert, Republic of Artsakh. ANC of Albany Co-Chair Antranig Karageozian thanked the City Council and Mayor of Troy at the City Council meeting where the resolution was voted upon. The establishment of a Friendship City between Troy and Martakert comes amid 7-month genocidal blockade that Azerbaijan has imposed upon Artsakh.
Welcomed for its importance in creating awareness about Martakert and the ongoing genocide of the Armenian Nation, the resolution allows for both cities to exchange cultural ideas and concepts including the establishment of economic and social ties.
Troy is home to a multigenerational Armenian-American community, who first established roots in the capital of New York in the late 19th centuries during the Hamidian massacres, during which hundreds of Armenian refugees chose Troy as their new home. Several churches and cultural organizations soon established in the region, creating a new “little Armenia.” Despite being displaced from their ancestral homeland, the Armenians of Troy maintain traditions from the Old Country, such as “Madagh” traditional community dinners and other events. Armenians have been part of the political scene in Troy as well, for several years, Armenian-American Harry Tutunjian served as Mayor.
The town of Martakert is home to a population of 5,000 and is surrounded by several smaller villages. The local economy and social landscape is diverse, boasting more than 80 commercial enterprises, several schools and libraries, as well as various cultural institutions. Martakert is an integral part of the Armenian highlands and has had an Armenian presence since at least the 1st century BCE. Martakert and the encompassing areas possess both a natural and material richness, containing several millennia-old sites, such as Pre-Christian tombs, a church constructed in the 13th century, several ancient cemeteries, and a nearby medieval village. During the first Artsakh War, just 30 years ago, Martakert was left in utter ruins after a brief Azerbaijani occupation. Recent escalations as well as the recent 2020 War have led to new complexities, leaving the future of the region uncertain.
“We know the importance of strengthening ties and relationships on the federal and state level, but are as diligent in our efforts on the local level. Thank you to Troy Mayor Patrick Madden and Troy City Council Chair Carmella Montello for their support in the establishment of this Friendship City. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our compatriots in Artsakh and wanted them to know that though they are faced with the unthinkable – genocide – they are not alone. We encourage all of our fellow ANCs to pursue this same agenda of establishing Friendship Cities and informing the American people – on the federal, state and local level- on the active genocide happening in Artsakh as we speak,” said Karageozian.
Friendship Cities with Artsakh have been established throughout the Eastern Region between Granite City, Illinois and Ashan, Republic of Artsakh; Cranston, Rhode Island, and Stepanakert, Republic of Artsakh; and now Troy, New York and Martakert, Republic of Artsakh, this year.