Aznavour May Discontinue Assistance to Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)– The "Aznavour for Armenia" association may stop its humanitarian mission in Armenia–if the government of Armenia continues to impede the activities of the association–renowned French singer of Armenian origin Charles Aznavour said in an interview with "Nouvelles d’Armenie" magazine published in France.

Armenian authorities plan to impose a customs duty and VAT on humanitarian aid that Aznavour is sending to Armenia. "Why? I do not get any profit from those 18 million dollars which I send to Armenia after a concert–or after I sell a disc… I take this money out of my pocket. This is ridiculous," Aznavour said. "If a humanitarian aid is sent to Armenia–then it is necessary to open all ways as it is done in Georgia," he stressed.

Noting that the sum of the tax "is not a big thing" for the Armenian authorities–Aznavour added: "If it’s done out of a mere principle–I do not agree with this. The Aznavour for Armenia association will not continue its activities in Armenia–if it faces impedimen’s… We should be helped inside the country–so that we can work outside it".

Aznavour said that this was not the only complaint which he wants to file with the government of Armenia. "First of all–the Diaspora cannot replace the government of Armenia. We–the Diaspora–do not have big achievemen’s. I admit that the Diaspora is rich–but it is not as rich as the Jewish Diaspora of the United States… I am very much surprised with the fact that a couple of years later–the restoration of the earthquake zone is no longer the country’s priority task."

Aznavour believes that "the country is taking care of the capital only–whereas nothing is done in other places. It’s a shame. It is necessary that the authorities should direct their attention to villages and other towns–to the future and not to immediate benefits. Opportunities must be created for those who are still able to do something–whereas others should be provided with means to lead a normal life." He said that for the first time he had seen Armenia’s who begged alms on streets. "Even my parents who had nothing and who were refugees did not beg. It is no good to encourage the outflow of workforce from Armenia–depriving them of an opportunity to find their place," Aznavour emphasized.

Aznavour said that only current authorities are responsible for what was stated above–stressing that a new government should be vigilant–since "when a new government comes–it has to rectify mistakes of a previous one." Aznavour said that former and current authorities of Armenia have much in common.

Asked about his attitude toward three changes of leadership which occurred in Armenia after his association had been established–Aznavour answered: "As for ourselves–this should not change anything. The only problem which emerges is that we are received as people of the former president… I do not belong to any president and all I am doing–I am doing is for the sake of Armenia and Armenia’s. No matter who becomes president–I will continue to do what I am doing now. I want the current president to know about this and I want him to treat me the same way I treat the country (Armenia)." He said that after the presidential elections he did not visit Armenia and did not continue a dialogue with the Armenian authorities.

"I do not feel success in what I was going to do in Armenia. I think that they understood wrongly who I am. Despite an opinion to which some people subscribe–I am a supporter of Armenia’s who are in Armenia. I reiterate: I am not on of the president’s people–be it France or Armenia and I will never be one. To be correct–I am a person of all presidents. I addressed a letter to Levon Ter-Petrossian–when he resigned–and I sent a telegram to his successor to congratulate him upon the election," Aznavour said.

"My role is to take care of my association–however–I want the current authorities to understand–that if impedimen’s are put on my way–I will launch my activities in some other place. I am engaged in a humanitarian mission called "Aznavour for Armenia". It could be called "Aznavour for Georgia". Georgia is the country where my parents were born. Georgians have done much for me–they have restored the house of my father. And of course I will do something for my country–since it is necessary for the region that these two countries should walk side by side," Charles Aznavour said.

He also vowed to come to Armenia to attend a football match between Armenian and French teams. "I will use this visit to go to Georgia and see the house of my parents–as well as to meet with the Armenia’s of Javakhk," Aznavour noted.


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