World Bank to Allocate $240 Million to Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The World Bank is going to allocate $240 million to Armenia within the coming three years–World Bank President James Wolfensohn told a press conference covering the results of his visit to Armenia. He described as satisfactory the course of the realization of World Bank programs in Armenia–saying that two years ago it was below satisfactory.

Wolfensohn said negotiations for three new projects had been completed. These include a Dam Safety Project for $30 million–a Transport Project ($50 million) and a Judicial Reform Project ($10 million). Future programs include projects on energy–social facilities–small and medium-sized businesses.

According to Wolfensohn–the first step toward regional programs has been taken with the planning of the reconstruction of the Yerevan-Tbilisi. The financing of a gas pipeline from Iran to Armenia was also discussed. Wolfensohn said–"In the future I am ready to consider such a possibility–but for the time being–I can’t provide any detailed answer."

The World Bank president positively described the results of his meeting with leaders of the Unity political bloc. The Armenian politicians acknowledged the importance of the Bank’s technical advice and financial investment–which–they said–are critical for the country’s economic development.

Wolfensohn also expressed confidence that the results of the parliamentary elections in Armenia will not tell on the Bank’s coming activities in Armenia as during all negotiations–including with President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–Armenia reiterated its commitment to furthering economic and social reforms.

During his visit Wolfensohn and his delegation visited the Dzidzernakaberd Memorial to the 1915 Genocide Victims on June 4. The guests were accompanied by Armenia’s Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–Mayor of Yerevan Souren Abrahamian–other officials.

Wolfensohn’s attention was drawn to the resolutions passed by the Russian State Duma–the parliamen’s of Greece–Canada–Lebanon–the Senate of South Carolina–and the US–condemning the crime committed by the Ottoman Empire. The World Bank delegation laid a wreath at the memorial. Director of the Genocide Museum Lavrenti Barseghian presented the guests with a book by Vahagn Dadrian–a well-known Diasporan Armenian scientist. The book is entitled "The History of the Genocide of Armenia’s."

The museum director invited Wolfensohn to visit the memorial in autumn or spring to participate in tree planting.

The delegation left Yerevan the same day. Seeing the delegation off at the airport were Darbinian and other government officials.

"It was a wonderful trip–and I leave Armenia with a great sense of optimism. I’ll be back as soon as possible," Wolfensohn said in commenting on the results of his visit. "I am addicted to the Armenian brandy," he joked in conclusion.

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