YEREVAN (Armenpress/Noyan Tapan)–Prime Minister Robert Kocharian met with the United States delegation headed by former Senator Bob Dole Monday.
The press office of the government informed that while greeting the delegation–the prime minister said that the Senator’s pro-Armenian activities are well known and highly appreciated. The main topic of the meeting was the $ 100 million loan program established by Kirk Krikorian’s Lincy Foundation to promote private business in Armenia. Dole has been named the administrator of that program. The details of the program and mechanisms of implementation were also discussed.
Stressing the importance of this program–the prime minister said this is rather a big investment directed at the private sector. He also said that this assistance will create big opportunities for business development–especially for small and medium size enterprises.
On Tuesday–the US delegation visited the Dzidzernagabert Genocide Memorial and the Genocide Museum-Institute.
Senator Dole and Lincy President James Aljian laid a wreath at the monument. In a press conference Dole stressed that the Genocide should have by now been recognized by the US Congress. "Over the last few years governmen’s of a number of countries came forward with declarations recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The Genocide of Armenia’s is a historical fact and must be recognized without any biases toward today’s Turkish authorities," Dole stated in his statement.
Dole visited the Holy See of Etchmiadzin Wednesday. he was accompanied by Aljian–United Armenia Fund Director Harout Sasounian and various aides during the visit.
Catholicos Karekin I reportedly voiced his gratitude for US aid to Armenia. At the same time he mentioned that development programs were getting more and more important now. The Catholicos also spoke about similar programs being implemented by the Holy See of Etchmiadzin.
His Holiness told the guests about the ongoing activities in the disaster area and problems related to them. During the talk Karekin I also addressed issues of concern in education.
Also present at the meeting were Armenian ambassador to the US Rouben Shugarian and Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Armen Baibourtian.
On Wednesday–Dole and Aljian spoke about the preliminary details of the loan program–which will operate under the auskpices of Lincy–as well as Krikorian’s Tracinda Corporation. Long term loans–according to the speakers–will be provided to small enterprises–with a very low interest rate–reportedly under 10 percent.
Aljian said that the Tracinda and Lincy will work out the procedural steps for accepting applications for and allocation of the funds. One of the biggest European banks (with its office in Yerevan)–jointly with two Armenian banks will carry out the procedure of allocation and control over the use of credits.
Participants of the news conference did not make it clear which banks would be involved–only adding that the Midland Armenia Bank is most likely to be among them.
The administrators of the fund did not rule out the growth of capital in the fund. Also–the specific realms of usage will also be determined once the application process begins. The next logistic step is to iron out tax and administrative issues in the US.
Dole noted that the main directions will be to allocate long-term credits to private enterprises–which are to be mainly used for the purchase of equipment–new technologies–allowing to create new jobs and stimulate Armenia’s export potential. The income in form of interest rates will be invested into Armenia’s economy as well.
Dole denied the assertion that the majority of sums Armenia got since 1988 in form of assistance disappeared.
He noted that he was personally involved in the acquisition of the US aid to Armenia–and did not observe any misuse of those funds.
Dole also added that he foresaw the creation of an adopt-a-family program between US families of Armenian descent and local Armenian families.
Aljian added–"In fringes of different humanitarian programs we [Lincy] has invested approximately $30 million. We are sure that the sums were used for the needs of Armenia’s economy."
Dole reported that he talked by phone with Levon Ter-Petrosyan–who approved the program of the Fund and "voiced his sincere delight over that."
It was reported at the news conference that within the next several months the delegation would visit Armenia’several more times.