YEREVAN—Environmental protection groups in Armenia staged a protest outside the Madenataran Tuesday, as Charles, the Price of Wales, who is on his first visit to Armenia toured the repository of ancient manuscripts.
Holding banners that read, “Environmentalist Charles, join the environmentalists of Armenia,” and “British mining industry is killing us, stop it!” protesters waited for the Prince Charles in hopes of delivering a protest letter to the visiting dignitary.
Prince Charles arrived in Armenia on Tuesday for a three-day private visit. He is in Armenia to promote the work of “Yerevan, My Love,” a charity, for which he helped raise awareness and funds along with Armenia’s former prime minister, Armen Sarkisian, who accompanied him on this trip.
The protesters outside the Madenataran had gathered to urge Prince Charles to ask the British Lydian International to halt plans of to mine gold at the Amuslar deposit in southeastern Armenia.
Sarkisian, the former prime minister, joined the Lydian International board of directors in March. A statement from the protesters, which was handed to the British Ambassador to Armenia Jonathan Aves, made mention of Sarkisian’s involvement in Lydian. The ambassador pledged to bring the letter to the prince’s attention.
Earlier in the day, the “Save Teghut” Civil Initiative addressed an open letter to Prince Charles, pointing out that the British investments in Amulsar’s gold mining contradict the prince’s ideology and asked him, as an advocate of environmental protection, to refrain from any activities related to the mining, reported ArmeniaNow.
“At the same time, we are asking to interfere, within your range of influence, in this dangerous British investment project and prevent it, shifting British investments to Armenia’s green economy instead,” stated the letter.
While agreeing that there are “legitimate concerns” regarding mining at Amulsar, Aves stressed that he is “impressed” by Lydian’s approach to environmental issues. “We expect that they will do their best to meet all the regulations and rules that are required to establish their operations,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). The diplomat added that the Armenian government is “working hard” to ensure that the British company complies with those rules.
Environmental activist Anna Shahnazaryan told ArmeniaNow that the main purpose of the protest was to raise awareness and inform the Prince of Wales and they believe that he would have a say in the issue.
“Neither in the British press nor on higher levels issues with Armenia are voiced, and the mere fact that we have succeeded to present the environmental issues connected with the project is an achievement by itself,” said Shahnazaryan.
British Embassy officials said that while at Madenataran, the Prince became acquainted with the ancient manuscripts and heard a presentation about “Yerevan, My Love,” by Armen Sarkisian.
On Wednesday, Prince Charles met with President Serzh Sarkisian.
“Our people have a special attitude toward you, and this is connected with your wide charitable work. A vivid reminder of this is your active participation in the ‘Yerevan, My Love’ project,” the president told the prince.
The Prince of Wales thanked Serzh Sarkisian for the warm welcome and stressed the importance of the “Yerevan, My Love” program, as well as the project of construction of an international school in Dilijan.
The prince said he highly appreciated the great attention Armenia pays to the programs targeted at the development of education and expressed willingness to expand his program of support to young entrepreneurs in Armenia.