In the early days of the Artsakh war, the governments of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) jointly called on all Armenians to lend a helping hand in the defense of the Homeland, by joining the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s special fundraising campaign “We Are Our Borders, We Are All For Artsakh.”
Responding to the call, Armenians from all over the world generously participated in the campaign, which raised more than $175 million USD, an unprecedented amount in the Fund’s history.
Since the end of the war, the Fund’s administrators have frequently issued press releases and held press conferences presenting their activities and outlining forthcoming programs. It was also officially announced that about $100 million USD had been transferred to the state budget of Armenia to implement the reconstruction programs.
Last week, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund Board of Trustees convened a meeting, which was held online due to the pandemic. Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, indicated that there were concerns over the transfer of the money to the government. However, at the end of the discussions, an official statement was issued, stating that the Board of Trustees had maintained confidence the funds raised during the war are being used for their intended purposes and a working group of Board of Trustees would be set up to work with an international auditing firm to monitor the expenditures of the funds.
Former leader of Armenia Robert Kocharyan also joined the Board of Trustees meeting. As far as we know, he has never participated since leaving office. Shortly thereafter, he was quick to issue a lengthy political statement accusing Prime Minister Pashinyan of being untrustworthy, stating that he did not believe assurances provided by the government about the usage of the funds.
Kocharyan’s statement is now being used by well-known circles to discredit and attack All-Armenian Fund and question its dedicated mission. Among those who joined the smear campaign were the Fund’s former executive director, Ara Vardanyan, who was removed from office after publicly confessing that he used the Fund’s credit card for online gambling.
We do not understand the uproar surrounding the transfer of money to the government when the shift was made with the approval of the Board of Trustees and based on agreements signed between the parties, thanks to which infrastructure, social and health programs are being implemented so that Artsakh Armenians can return to their home and start the rebuilding process.
On Friday, during a joint session of the Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh, it was announced that a total of 110 billion drams (nearly $210 million USD) in government and “Hayastan” Armenia Fund money will be spent on housing construction and infrastructure projects in war-torn Artsakh.
Unfortunately, these days everything in Armenia is being politicized to achieve a change in government and to obtain a strong hold on to power. Throughout its existence, the All-Armenian Fund has earned and continues to enjoy the trust of Armenians throughout the world. It is the only body that unites all our national, religious, political, and charitable organizations and carries out its mission conscientiously and transparently. At this difficult juncture in our history, we have a moral obligation not to make the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund a target for ulterior motives and to keep it away from any kind of political manipulation.