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Not All Fellow Party Members Share Pashinyan’s Optimism on the Mine 

After meetings with residents of Jermuk and environmentalists, later with MPs of the “My Step” fraction of the National Assembly, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the public with a Facebook live talk. In this hour or so-long talk, he presented the sequence of events around the Amulsar issue, the facts and conclusions he was provided with, and later ensured that the government has the ability to enforce the mining company to neutralize threats. At the end, he stated that he found it expedient to allow the Amulsar mine to be exploited.   

“It derives from the interest of our government, state, people and country that we comply with the legitimate condition posed by us and with the vote of people’s trust, in other words, that we give an opportunity for the Amulsar mine to be exploited,” said Pashinyan. This, in essence, is the gist of the 1.17-hour Facebook live address of Nikol Pashinyan. 

After the closed meetings with Prime-Ministery Pashinyan, a number of parliamentarians of the “My Step” fraction disclosed their positions, namely Lena Nazaryan, Varazdat Karapetyan and Mary Galstyan made statements by which they expressed their disagreement with the Prime-Minister’s optimism regarding the consequences of operation of the Amulsar mine and his confidence on “facts provided” to him. 

Varazdat Karapetyan ― “It is unbelievable that we will manage risks to be inherited to our future generations as a result of our actions today; acid drainage, polluted rainfalls, contaminated springs and rivers. We face a global mining monster with people, institutions, finances and experts serving it…   

And now we face the dilemma of following laws that have been forced to us by extractive plunderers and allowing yet another ulcer be opened in our mountains, or of breaking the rules and declaring that we are the owners of this country. It doesn’t matter what kind of forces support each other, or what kind of intrigues are plotted against us. What matters is our value – the present of a free, sovereign, unpolluted country. 

The law of natural morality is higher than any constitution, any laws. The company claiming for the natural resources of Amulsar is not honest towards us and our country. No independent review can deny the presence of hundreds of risks and a life-threatening threat.

Mary Galstyan ― I remain of the same opinion on the expert review conducted by ELARD (company to which the Investigative Committed commissioned the review of Lydian’s EIA reports, ed.); the EIA (environmental impact report) conducted by Lydian contains serious gaps and flaws which overall question the validity of existing conclusions and evaluations.

However, I would like to emphasize my concern over the following: the ToR prepared for ELARD posed questions to which ELARD was not able to answer and had now right to answer, specifically, whether or not the operation of the mine would impact Sevan Lake, whether or not it would impact Jermuk waters and they hydrological system.

In order to clearly answer these questions, ELARD would have to conduct a new environmental impact assessment and review other documents. In essence, ELARD carried out one of the functions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Expertise Center (state body), that being a review of the presented EIA, identification of flaws and gaps therein. The company did this and in Chapters 1-3 it clearly pointed out significant gaps and flaws both in relation to baseline data and methodological foundations for evaluating these data and many other points which lead to erroneous calculations, assessments and uncertainties in terms of risks due to mine operation. Having read these chapters fully, I have no confidence that exploitation of the mine is safe. I expressed this to the Prime-Minister during the meeting with “My Step” parliamentary fraction and I remain of the same opinion.

Lena Nazaryan ― “My Step” parliamentary fraction’s meeting with the Prime-Minister just finished during which I expressed my concerns regarding ELARD’s report, particularly the section titled “Summery, Conclusions and Data Gaps.” 

It is hard for me to believe that I’ve read that same report that was read by the Investigative Committee which concluded that the risks are manageable. While reading the report I had the feeling I always had reading international post-election reports; first, you go through documentation of all violations, then you go to the end where there is a summary concluding that despite certain violations of electoral procedures, overall the elections were one step forward. 

In the same manner, ELARD’s experts were making conclusions and evaluations casting a doubt on the credibility of the EIA based on which the mine operation permit was given, however at the very final summary they make a different conclusion. My concerns over the report were not dispelled and I remain of my position that the report is controversial for making a specific decision.”