On September 8 at Congress Hotel in Yerevan the press-conference of the Chairman
of “European Integration” NGO Karen Bekarian was held. The reason for the meeting
with journalists was the publication in “Azg” daily on August 17, 2005, titled
“One Armenian Way of European Integration”. The vast article was based on the
letter of Armenian State Award laureates Ashot Zakarian, Alexander Kashin and
the USSR State Award laureate Marat Krmoyan, addressed to the RA National Assembly
Speaker Arthur Baghdasarian (Karen Bekarian is also the expert of the Parliamentary
Committee on Foreign Relations). The letter, in particular, accused the NGO
head in “harming the international reputation of his country by his activities”.
The publication told about the conflict that arose in the course of implementation
of a research project by Cosmology Unit of the Yerevan Physics Institute of
the RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, headed by Dr. Vahagn Gyurzadian.
The project was funded by the US Trade Development Agency, contracted by US
“Sky Broadband Services”, Inc., and subcontracted by “European Integration”,
acting as a treasurer.
According to Karen Bekarian, in late January 2005, two month before the project
ended, Vahagn Gyurzadian proposed that “European Integration” transfer the remainder
of the grant (making up over 70% of the funds transferred to the subcontractor
– $ 102,720.45) to the account of a natural person, contrary to legal norms.
Then the implementer attempted to get the amount transferred to the account
of “Cosmology” NGO that was not registered at that point – as confirmed by RA
Ministry of Justice in reply to the inquiry of “European Integration”. Because
of the mistrust of the subcontractor, the issuance of money to the implementer
was suspended. The lengthy debates between the parties of the project did not
clarify the situation; Karen Bekarian resolved to pass on a demand draft for
this amount to the US Embassy in Armenia.
As the head of “European Integration” noted at the press-conference, his organization
did not intend to publicize the conflict and only had to do so after “Azg” refused
to publish a response to the article of August 17.
To the question of why “European Integration” did not file a suit against “Azg”,
Karen Bekarian explained that he believes the activities of such institutes
as NGOs and media extremely important and that the litigations between them
will damage the common cause – the establishment of civil society in the country.
In his letter to the head of “European Integration” of August 31 the Chief
Editor of “Azg” Hagop Avedikian explained the reasons for the refusal to publish
a response “at this point”. Since the latter is “over than twice as long as”
the article itself and “does not provide factual proofs”, “does not refute”
the information, published by the newspaper. The Chief Editor of “Azg” informed
YPC that he does not exclude the possibility for publishing Karen Bekarian’s
response, should the requirements above be met.