The Frenchman residing in Artsakh

Michel Tankrez, who is of French descent, has been living in the capital of Stepanakert of Artsakh with his wife and daughter for the past 12 years.

Michel Tankrez is the representative of the France Chapter of Hayastan All-Armenian Fund in Artsakh, but his job is not limited to that. Tankrez is also the President of the Table Tennis Federation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and a member of the Football Federation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

As he says, he first visited Armenia in the 1980s as a tourist, but hadn’t visited Artsakh. In the 1990s, he learned about the liberation struggle in Artsakh from his close Armenian friends in France and decided to visit Artsakh. In 1992, he visited Artsakh and provided humanitarian assistance, after which he visited more often.

During one of those visits in 1994, he met his future wife, Mariam at Dadivank Monastery. At the time, Mariam had traveled from France, bringing with her assistance provided by the French-Armenian community. The two quickly got married at the Armenian Apostolic Church located in the city of Lausanne, which is near Paris.

Mariam was the principal of an Armenian school in the city of Lausanne. She is a mathematician. However, during the years of the war, she became so connected to Artsakh that she quit her job and moved to Stepanakert with her husband and daughter. That was in 2003. During the Fund’s Telethon in France, the second President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arkadi Ghukasyan learned about Tankrez’s wish to live in Karabakh and suggested that he become the Fund’s representative in Karabakh.

In Artsakh, Tankrez’s daughter, Hripsime went to school and also graduated from the canon department of the local music school. Currently, she wants to consider her musical education at Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory.

Michel Tankrez proudly mentions that his daughter sings in the choir of the Saint Hakob Armenian Church of Stepanakert and that it is a pleasure for him to take part in all the masses.

“I myself am a follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Today, the church carries out several charity projects, helps families in need and encourages them, but I believe there is a need to create clubs adjacent to the church where youth will be able to spend their time together, communicate more often and where larger and more beneficial programs will be carried out. Youth are the driving force, and we need to create conditions for them to become self-established and improve in an environment that is like the environment of the Church.”

Tankrez says the only difficulty in Artsakh was the linguistic barrier. “I solved the difficulty. I hired a teacher and learned Armenian in six months. Of course, I still have difficulty with the dialect of Karabakh, but I can solve that problem as well,” Tankrez said. Michel Tankrez mentions that he has been to all the villages of Karabakh in order to familiarize himself with all the issues, the situation and, what’s more important, according to him, get to know the people well.

“I must say that the reason why I moved here and stayed here for many years was not just because of the wonderful nature of Artsakh, the sites worth seeing and the clean environment. People were the major reason why I saw my future here. The people here are amazingly hospitable and open-hearted.”

Besides being the representative of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s France Chapter, Michel Tankrez is also the president of the Table Tennis Federation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. He also carries out charity acts. Over the past 12 years, he has worked as the representative of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund in France and has donated his salary to the Fund. Recently, 30 tennis players received uniforms and accessories through Tankrez’s personal funds.

“I have been involved in sports since I was a child. I play football and table tennis. I used to be the coach for the tennis club in Modona, and I know very well the importance of the need for sports in the lives of teens and youth. Today, unfortunately, the government lacks sufficient funding and can’t allocate enough funds for table tennis. Today, unfortunately, money plays a decisive role in the development of sports. There are rather large programs that can be carried out in case of funding,” says Michel Tankrez.

Michel Tankrez has been a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun for the past year and says he joined the Dashnaktsutyun because he completely shares the path and ideas of the political party.

“My grandfather was a Socialist, my father was a Socialist and I’m a socialist, and I think it’s obvious why I would join the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun.”

Armine Narinyan


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