AGBU funds capacity-building for government in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. As part of its continuing series of AGBU-sponsored government training programs, Americans for Artsakh completed in April its fourth training session, for 12 government officials in the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). Dr. Paul Dezendorf, a political scientist from Western Carolina University in Asheville, N.C., conducted a course on government public relations. Dr. Dezendorf, who recently completed a Fulbright appointment at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, also met with a wide range of government officials and members of the academic community to assist in the production of AFA's long-term training plans and "brand identity" creation for the country.

As in previous sessions, the course was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stepanakert, and class participants included staff members from the Ministry, two from the Office of the President, two from the National Assembly staff, and two from the NKR Public Information Office.

Special assistance was provided by Karen Kostandyan, AFA's Liaison in Stepanakert and a staff member at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The course covered such areas as the history of government public relations and the recent rise in competitive national identity strategies. The participants studied models of countries that have been particularly successful in branding. Towards the end, they worked together to begin formulating national identity models for Karabakh.

Considering how the Republic's international reputation has been affected by the conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan, it is critical to Karabakh's growth that it re-establish its global image. Dr. Dezendorf held meetings at the ministries of economy, environment, and health in order to facilitate additional training opportunities.

Following the meetings, certain ministry staff members were appointed to serve as representatives of their respective offices, and will support AFA in logistical and organizational matters. Americans for Artsakh (AFA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established to preserve freedom, strengthen democracy, foster economic development, protect the cultural identity, and promote the heritage of the people of Artsakh.

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