White House Says Closely Following Situation in Armenia

WASHINGTON (Combined Sources)–The White House said Thursday that the Bush administration is closely following the situation in Armenia.
"The United States has condemned the violence of March 1st and 2nd that resulted in the loss of life and the subsequent government crackdown, that included arrests of members of the opposition, curtailed the freedom of press, as well as public assembly," White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said Thursday.
"The government of Armenia needs to uphold the rule of law, lift the state of emergency and restore press freedoms," he added. "We urge a political dialogue between the government and opposition to resolve the situation quickly"
In related news, the Millennium Challenge Corporation expressed concern about Armenia’s post election situation in a letter to Armenian President Rovert Kocharian on Wednesday.
MCC CEO John Danilovich sent a formal letter to President Kocharian warning that the government’s actions could have negative effects on the country’s eligibility for MCC funding. MCC is presently reviewing the operational aspects of its ongoing work in the country in light of these events, and is closely monitoring the situation with government and donor colleagues.
"As a friend and major proponent of long-term economic growth, stability, and democracy in Armenia, we have an obligation to ensure that our programs operate in the democratic environment for which their funding was granted," MCC CEO John Danilovich stated in the letter. "MCC signed its $235.6 million compact with the people of Armenia based on the country’s continued policy performance. A demonstrated commitment to democratic practices plays an integral role in maintaining eligibility for MCC funding."
MCC compact eligibility is based on a country’s performance based on a set of 17 independent eligibility indicators. As part of MCC’s unique approach to government assistance, partner countries must adhere to these indicators in order to receive funding for a large-scale poverty reduction grant, or MCC Compact.

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