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Armenian Environmentalists Respond to Speculations of Political, Financial Backing

Today in Armenia it is difficult to imagine that Armenian citizens are truly worried about their property, informed of their rights and can exercise civil demands, said member of the civil initiative “We are the owners of this city” Gayane Melkumyan, speaking to Epress.am.

Commenting on the view that there are certain political groups backing this civil initiative, Melkumyan said the name of their initiative was reviewed during Yerevan’s former mayor’s time in office, but she hoped that the initiative will be seen for what it is.

“For example, in his statements the former mayor said we wanted to hurt him politically,” she said.

Environmental activist Mariam Sukhudyan recalled a question former Yerevan mayor Gagik Beglaryan asked them during a meeting. “Do you want me to resign?” he would say.

Another member of the group, Artur Avtandilyan, added that since civil movements are new to Armenia, individuals and political forces that have taken a certain path cannot imagine that it’s possible to be “active” in the country without having any political motives.

“There has been such talk that, as if, funds have been sent to us in Armenia, which have been given to environmentalists, but we can’t understand where the money’s gone and why it hasn’t reached the recipients,” said Avtandilyan jokingly.

“We are the owners of this city” member Sona Ayvazyan, who is also a member of Transparency International anti-corruption center, said such talk is the result of primitivism from certain groups of people.

“People measure others by their own measurements. But I have to say, in some sense, our initiative has become politicized, because for each environmental challenge that we face, we inevitably have to deal with this or that political force, with oligarchs and others,” she said.

It’s not that the initiative is politicized, she added, but that unfortunately all problems in Armenia are political.