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It is acknowledged that within five years the MCA-Armenia project will contribute to the development of ¾ of rural areas of Armenia through a 235,65 million dollar value Compact of five years, signed with the US Corporation: 943 km of rural roads, 200 km of main canals, 30 000 hectares of irrigation systems, 18 gravity-fed irrigation systems and seven water preserves will be rehabilitated, special training sessions for approximately 60.000 rural population will be conducted, loans in the value of 8,5 million dollars will be provided to rural households, etc. With its scope and effectiveness, this project is unprecedented in the list of agricultural development programs ever implemented in Armenia.
Since the end of the last year, the 17 indicators that guide MCC in their decision to provide funding to our and other countries were worrisome for the Republic of Armenia: nine out of the 17 indicators are at certain risk levels for our country.
The violations of law during the latest RA presidential elections, the developments that followed them, mass violations of human rights and restrictions of media and freedom of expression can considerably lower some of the RA indicators, which, on their turn, will considerably increase the risk of suspension or termination of the program.
On 11 March 2008, MCC Executive Director, Ambassador John Danilovich sent a letter to RA President Robert Kocharyan, warning about probable suspension of the Compact.
With this statement, we express our deep concern about the real threat of suspension or termination of a project that promises substantial development to rural population and agriculture.
We consider that the RA authorities are required to carefully investigate the mass violations of elections, use of force against peaceful demonstrators (as a result of which 10 Armenians were killed, over a hundred people were wounded, and over a thousand citizens detained), persistent restriction of rights, media censorship, political persecutions, torture in prisons and make a report to the public. This investigation should be done with participation of international entities and as scrupulously and promptly as possible.
We call upon the RA authorities to take action. Otherwise, we seriously and irreversibly endanger the opportunity of establishing democracy and receiving diverse assistance from all over the world.
Simultaneously, we express our astonishment, with regard to Robert Kocharyan’s March 20 announcement in response to John Danilovich’s letter. It states that if MCA-Armenia project is suspended, then Armenia will explore other sources to implement all of the activities as envisaged by the program. Robert Kocharyan has also mentioned names of a number of benevolent organizations that will serve as possible funding sources. It still remains unclear: why, having all these other foundations for RA development supplementary projects, should the authorities wait for MCA-Armenia program’s suspension? In other words, what prohibits the RA authorities to engage all the mentioned funding opportunities into other rural development projects in parallel to the MCA-Armenia project?
We, the undersigned MCA-Armenia Stakeholder Committee members, express our full readiness to participate and contribute our input in resolving the issue: we will respond to any possible needs, as promptly as possible.
MCA-Armenia Program Stakeholder Committee members:
Levon Barseghyan, Seyran Martirosyan, Arthur Sakunts
The statement is open also to other interested persons for joining.
29 April 2008