LOS ANGELES–Millennium Challenge Corp. Chief Executive Office John Danilovich Thursday had a frank discussion with Armenian-American organizational representatives and community leaders about the current state of MCC’s activities in Armenia, in light of the post-election unrest. The meeting was organized by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Following the meeting, Asbarez English Editor Ara Khachatourian had an exclusive interview with Danilovich, the transcript of which is presented below:
Ara Khachatourian: What are the MCC’s post election activities?
John Danilovich: The Millennium Challenge Corp. has been engaged with the people of Armenia now for several years with a very substantial $235 million compact, which is targeted at the reduction of poverty and sustainable economic growth in Armenia. We are very pleased with the progress that has been made, with the compact implementation, with the training; Now of more than 6000 farmers have been trained in better water usage and huge irrigation for the benefit of having better crops, better production, greater productivity, better prices and we are pleased with the way things are moving along.
We have some concerns with regards to the elections which took place recently and with regards to post-election events–the state of emergency, and things of that nature with regards to limitations on freedoms in Armenia. We very much hope that pres. Sarkisian, who I have had the pleasure of meeting in Washington, will move along the path of reforms with regards to these concerns and we will continue our engagement with Armenia for the benefit of the Armenian people. We look forward to continuing this engagement, but we want to have the right circumstances for that engagement.
Our program is not just about the money, or just about the projects. It’s also about good government. That’s where the MCC is different than other organizations. There are a lot of good projects for the benefit of the Armenian people; It’s a lot of money; And, it needs to exist in the environment of good government–political, economic and social. So, we are hoping the right circumstances will exist and that Pres. Sarkisian will seize the opportunity of being the new president and in the opening months of his office to take steps which are necessary in reforms in administrative and institutional structure of Armenia to continue the advancement of Armenia.
A.K.: Was there any stoppage of programs that occurred with the state of emergency?
J.D.: At the moment, we continue our programs in Armenia. There are ongoing in the number of sectors; I’ve mentioned the water-to-market area, but they are ongoing in number of sectors. We have continued our disbursemen’s; I will be writing to President Sarkisian in the coming days to express our concerns and to hear from him with regard to how he sees the way forward in regard to reforms in Armenia. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity, this morning here in Los Angeles, to meet with a significant number of Armenian community members who are committed to the progress of Armenia, just as the US government and the MCC is committed of Armenia.
Congressman Adam Schiff was very instrumental in hosting today’s event. I’m grateful for him for gathering together members of the Armenian community. We had a very frank and open discussion about our commitment–about our emotional, as well as mental, spiritual and financial commitment–to the success of Armenia. We all want to find a way to move forward, and I think today’s conversation with the Diaspora was a great success.
A.K.: What will you take back from today’s discussion to the Armenian leadership, as well as the leadership of the MCC?
J.D.: I think what we all share–and I think we share this very strongly in common–is a commitment to the success of Armenia. This is the foundation of what we all feel. I think the representatives of the various components of the Armenian community; Certainly myself, on behalf of the MCC, to the reduction of poverty and the sustaining of economic growth in Armenia. We are committed to the engagement and to the partnership we have with the Armenian people. We want the benefits to the Armenian people to continue, hoping that president Sarkisian–as the new leader–will walk along this path to progress so we can continue our engagement.
A.K.: What role can the political forces in Armenia have in enhancing your project?
J.D.: The politics in Armenia are the same–if I may say so–as they are in many of our MCC countries. The opposition, the establishment, the coalition groups should all be working for the poor in Armenia. We consider our MCC program to be of significance. One, because the proposals are Armenian solutions for Armenian problems; They are not United States government solutions. They are your solutions for your challenges. Therefore, we hope that having a program that was in fact created by Armenia’s for the benefit of Armenia’s that the virtue of this program will be seen as very positive and will continue. Our part of the bargain–the American part of the bargain–is to provide gran’s. It’s not a loan. The Armenian part of the formula is to implement these programs successfully for the benefit of their people.