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Armenia’s Millennium Challenge funding in doubt

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Monday, March 31

The political turmoil in Armenia following its disputed February 19 presidential election put Armenia’s Millennium Challenge funding in doubt, a US diplomat said last week.

US Charges d’Affaires in Armenia Joseph Pennington said that Armenia’s eligibility for the program is “borderline,” according to Armenian news agency ArmeniaNow.

The government must oversee improvement in human rights, media freedom and the democratic process if it hopes to receive some USD 235 million in funding through the five-year compact.

However, the US official said funding was already “in trouble” before the controversial election last month, which triggered opposition protests that ended in deadly clashes with police on March 1.

President Robert Kocharyan commented that Yerevan will be able to find other financial backing for government projects if the US does not deliver, ArmeniaNow reports, in what commentators say is a reference Russia.

Pennington stressed that president-elect Serzh Sarkisyan will have an opportunity in his first term of office to improve the country’s democratic development.

“We think it is only fair to give the new administration time to turn the situation around. So if we see those negative trends turn into a positive direction, obviously that will have a positive impact on the decisions of MCC [Millennium Challenge Corporation],” he said, according to the news source Armenia Liberty.