US ambassador calls for dialogue between civil society and mining industry in Armenia
YEREVAN, March 25. /ARKA/. US ambassador to Armenia John Heffern urged Armenia’s civil activists to enter into dialogue with mining companies.
The international conference entitled “Responsible mining in Armenia – opportunities and challenges” is held by the WB and Armenia’s government, with assistance from the EBRD, the IMF, embassies of the USA, Great Britain and Germany and the Canadian government. Environmental protesters offered the guests to participate in an “irresponsible mining” conference instead. According to them, the conference is a step to legalize ruthless robbery of Armenia’s natural resources by foreign corporations patronized by the Armenian authorities hiding the real damage for the environment and human health.
Heffern stressed the importance of civil society – mining industry dialogue.
If independent organizations or individuals ignore the companies they will be unable to get through their point of view, Heffern told reporters.
The ambassador admitted there are problems in Armenia’s mining industry and four non-governmental organizations participate in the conference.
This conference aims at a dialogue between the government, local communities and the companies, Heffern said.
German ambassador Rainer Morel stressed the importance of a dialogue in the field so that the sides are able to listen to each other and work together. He said they are not against any NGO, on the contrary, they want to get them involved.
UK ambassador to Armenia Catherine Lynch, in her turn, said international experts participating in the conference will present the best international practices in mining.
Applying international standards in mining will allow using natural resources for the benefit of the population, she said.
Earlier, a group of environmentalists managed to get into the conference hall holding “World Bank Takes Part in Robbing Armenia”, “Hands Off from Armenia”, “We Know Who Are the Owners of the Mines”. Protesters were offering glasses of water from Armenia’s reservoirs to participants, Novosti-Armenia reported.
Armenia’s mining output totaled 196.6 billion drams in 2013, an increase of 8.1% over the year.