Monday, January 08, 2007

Haygazyan Update

I had a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Territorial Administration Armo Tsaturyan regarding the electrification of Haygazyan, Hale and 2 other neighboring villages.

The Mayor of Haygazyan was to join us, but due to circumstances beyond his control he was unable to attend.

The meeting went well I would say and though Armo may seem to present himself as a concerned civil servant, the fact that he has to answer to those who are not concerned makes him quite ineffective.

Armo wants the electricity run to the villages and said that the budget for Lachin has not yet been finalized. He will work so that the villages will get electricity.

I told Armo that we were going to go forward with raising funds for electrification and if within a reasonable amount of time the government has not accomplished this task, we would do it ourselves. Of course if the government does bring power to the villages, then we would use the money raised for projects that will create self-sustainability for the people living there.

Armo and I discussed many things including the Armenia Fund telethon. I told Armo about misrepresentation of donations and he said that he knew of $1 million, but didn’t know that $4.5 million fell under this category. He said he and others in government were waiting this year for the Diaspora not to give due to all the problems with the Armenia Fund, and were surprised that it was a record year.

Our meeting lasted about an hour and one of the many topics we touched on was the money allocated for building houses for Lachin and Kelbajar. Armo said that he had requested an accounting of how the money was spent and was told that he was crazy and there was no need. I told him of my monitoring for building projects and said that the $3,500 houses in fact cost less than $800 each to build. He said that this was a problem and skimming will happen, but there needs to be a limit.

Anyway, Armo and I will be communicating in the near future to get an idea of what timeline they will have for electricity for the 4 villages and if it is reasonable, we will let them do it. If it is not or if they don’t meet their commitment, then we will do it with our own hands and at the same time have another gage to measure the real costs of this kind of work.

Oh, Armo showed me a letter with many signatures from Armenians all over the world. He did comment that there was an inaccuracy in the letter and that was that we have never had more than 12,500 people at any time living in Lachin. The petition states that 20,000 was the peek according the various sources. Other than this inaccuracy, he didn’t refute what was written. He did say that there are complication in removing the regional minister. I later on found out from other sources that in May of 2006, it looked as the regional minister was going to finally be removed and on the eve of this grand event, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Antranik Markaryan came and made an announcement that as long as he is around, the regional minister will stay.

Anyway, this much for now to report. As you can see from what we know so far, we have lots of work to do.

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