Barev Dzez. Minister, Governor, Mayor, Tim, other distinguished guests and donors. I am delighted to be with you today to announce the completion of the Noratus Medieval Cemetery preservation project.
We gather today at an ancient site that is home to the largest collection of cross stones in the world. It has been an honor, along with other donors, to help preserve this treasure of Medieval art and culture in Armenia.
This project was realized through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, an important undertaking of the U.S. government to help preserve our world’s heritage. Over ten years, it has provided 26 Million dollars of financial support to more than 640 cultural preservation projects in more than 100 countries, three of them in Armenia.
The Fund’s first award in Armenia was granted in 2005 to the Armenian National Film and Photo Archive for the creation of climate-controlled storage space for the Armenian film, photo, and audio archives. In 2007, the Fund supported the preservation of the Tatev Scholarly Center in the Syunik Region. The Noratus preservation project that we celebrate today was funded by a 2009 grant from the Ambassador’s Fund.
And I can share some more good news with you: a fourth Armenian project has just been selected to receive an Ambassador’s Fund grant. This year’s award will support the recording of folkdance traditions in Armenia and a video compilation that will make the dances accessible to the general public.
But today, we are here to celebrate the preservation and protection of an exceptional cultural site, the Noratus khachkars. The Ambassador’s Fund provided the protective fencing that you see around the Cemetery today, as well as site mapping and cataloging. The project implementer, the Armenian Monuments Awareness Project, with the support of other donors and the collaboration of the Mayor and local authorities, improved the site condition by paving the road, planting greenery, and building a crafts center to encourage the local community to protect and maintain this world-class monument.
Thanks to this joint effort, future generations will be able to continue to appreciate and study Armenian khachkars, a cultural tradition that inspires artists even today. We at the U.S. Embassy are proud to be part of the effort to support one of Armenia’s unique contributions to world heritage.