American NGOs in Armenia

By Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza

 

The role of NGOs and civil initiatives, the number of which have been growing in Armenia since it became independent, have started playing a much greater role. The organizations, many of which are assisted by Western countries, are actively participating in promotion of social, ecological, legal affairs and politics-related processes.

The U.S. makes a big contribution to NGOs, financing projects associated with judicial and legal reforms, development of tax laws, healthcare, studies of the English language in Armenia, formation of libraries, “American rooms” that tell Armenian readers about American literature and deepen mutual understanding between the two peoples. The U.S. gives NGOs grants to control the situation on the food market and protect the rights of consumers. Considering the success of the initiatives, ecology plays a special role in this aspect. This includes the struggle of ecologists against development of the Teghut copper-molybdenum deposit in Lori Province. A series of protests against construction of a small dam on the Trchkan Waterfall between the provinces of Lori and Shirak gained great public support.

The U.S. supports NGOs connected with political processes. The Choice is Yours organization is actively monitoring processes. In December 2004, during the third round of presidential elections in Ukraine, over 100 independent observers from Armenia were sent to a province in Ukraine with assistance from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to monitor the elections. Their work was fully financed by the American side. The Choice is Yours has become an authoritative Armenian organization monitoring elections, NDI has an office in Yerevan but it is hardly functioning.

Some say Washington controls Armenia through many media sources, but such a vision is oversimplified. The U.S. finances only three media sources: radio Freedom, the GALA TV company from Gyumri and the Hetq investigative Internet site.

Armenia has several effective human rights organizations. Judging by the lack of information about human rights NGOs on the list of programs on the official website of the U.S. embassy, we can suppose that the the NGOs are financed by funds and the organizations behind them.

Maybe the U.S. gives grants for minor research in politics and international relations to such analytical organizations as the Center for Regional Research and the Armenian Center for National and Strategic Research.

The U.S. may be financing NGOs lobbying American interests in the political and socio-political sectors. Proving that any NGOs receive American money is practically impossible. Armenian fiscal structures have information about the finances but they do not publish it. Nothing can be said for sure, even in the context of the anti-Russian background during some protests, especially the ones against Armenia joining the Eurasian Economic Union. That is why claims that Armenia is swarming with American NGOs do not hold water, there is no proof. Dmitry Kiselev, the director of Russia Today, has recently made such statement. The problem of countless NGOs needs serious study. Moreover, some anti-Russian organizations, such as the Committee for Support of Ukraine, exist for a short period and are not registered at the Justice Ministry.

According to Armenian experts, the West attracts political and public circles by holding seminars, organizing exchange programs and teachings. Mger Simonyan, the president of the Fund for Development of Eurasian Cooperation, believes that the number of pro-Western NGOs has grown dramatically this year in the light of Armenia’s plan to join the Customs Union and the EaEU. “Russian and pro-Russian public organizations of Armenia are far behind their Western competitors. Armenia has 5-10 competent Russian organizations and about 200 Western ones,” says Simonyan.

Obviously, the success and effectiveness of NGOs depend on their support of social interests. Ecological organizations and their initiatives are very popular because people view them as protectors of their rights. Organizations like The Choice is Yours are authoritative. Protests against joining the EaEU are scarce because people expect solutions to their social, economic and legal problems and see no reasons for protesting against an economic alliance or any other country.

It is hard to prove that they receive funds from the U.S.By Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for Vestnik KavkazaThe role of NGOs and civil initiatives, the number of which have been growing in Armenia since it became independent, have started playing a much greater role. The organizations, many of which are assisted by Western countries, are actively participating in promotion of social, ecological, legal affairs and politics-related processes.The U.S. makes a big contribution to NGOs, financing projects associated with judicial and legal reforms, development of tax laws, healthcare, studies of the English language in Armenia, formation of libraries, “American rooms” that tell Armenian readers about American literature and deepen mutual understanding between the two peoples. The U.S. gives NGOs grants to control the situation on the food market and protect the rights of consumers. Considering the success of the initiatives, ecology plays a special role in this aspect. This includes the struggle of ecologists against development of the Teghut copper-molybdenum deposit in Lori Province. A series of protests against construction of a small dam on the Trchkan Waterfall between the provinces of Lori and Shirak gained great public support.The U.S. supports NGOs connected with political processes. The Choice is Yours organization is actively monitoring processes. In December 2004, during the third round of presidential elections in Ukraine, over 100 independent observers from Armenia were sent to a province in Ukraine with assistance from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to monitor the elections. Their work was fully financed by the American side. The Choice is Yours has become an authoritative Armenian organization monitoring elections, NDI has an office in Yerevan but it is hardly functioning.Some say Washington controls Armenia through many media sources, but such a vision is oversimplified. The U.S. finances only three media sources: radio Freedom, the GALA TV company from Gyumri and the Hetq investigative Internet site.Armenia has several effective human rights organizations. Judging by the lack of information about human rights NGOs on the list of programs on the official website of the U.S. embassy, we can suppose that the the NGOs are financed by funds and the organizations behind them.Maybe the U.S. gives grants for minor research in politics and international relations to such analytical organizations as the Center for Regional Research and the Armenian Center for National and Strategic Research.The U.S. may be financing NGOs lobbying American interests in the political and socio-political sectors. Proving that any NGOs receive American money is practically impossible. Armenian fiscal structures have information about the finances but they do not publish it. Nothing can be said for sure, even in the context of the anti-Russian background during some protests, especially the ones against Armenia joining the Eurasian Economic Union. That is why claims that Armenia is swarming with American NGOs do not hold water, there is no proof. Dmitry Kiselev, the director of Russia Today, has recently made such statement. The problem of countless NGOs needs serious study. Moreover, some anti-Russian organizations, such as the Committee for Support of Ukraine, exist for a short period and are not registered at the Justice Ministry.According to Armenian experts, the West attracts political and public circles by holding seminars, organizing exchange programs and teachings. Mger Simonyan, the president of the Fund for Development of Eurasian Cooperation, believes that the number of pro-Western NGOs has grown dramatically this year in the light of Armenia’s plan to join the Customs Union and the EaEU. “Russian and pro-Russian public organizations of Armenia are far behind their Western competitors. Armenia has 5-10 competent Russian organizations and about 200 Western ones,” says Simonyan.Obviously, the success and effectiveness of NGOs depend on their support of social interests. Ecological organizations and their initiatives are very popular because people view them as protectors of their rights. Organizations like The Choice is Yours are authoritative. Protests against joining the EaEU are scarce because people expect solutions to their social, economic and legal problems and see no reasons for protesting against an economic alliance or any other count

9010 views





Populars