YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Armenian-American singer and the frontman for the award-winning rock band System of A Down, Serj Tankian arrived in Armenia Wednesday night for a much anticipated one-night performance. He was greeted by a group of environmental activists who had cycled to Zvartnots Airport.
Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Tankian said that “It feels great, very exciting. It feels like home.”
“It is the third time I’ve visited Armenia. It is very interesting,” added Tankian.
He also told reporters that he planned to visit Dzidzernagapert, jokingly saying “the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged me to visit the Memorial not as a musician, but as an individual,” in direct reference to remarks made by Clinton, who after visiting the Genocide monument last month said that it was a “personal” visit.
Tankian said that he had visited different regions in Armenia during his past visits, pledging his support for the restoration of the music school in Gyumri.
The environmental group, SOS Teghut that greeted Tankian at the airport hoped that he would assist in their campaign to preserve an endangered forest in northern Armenia. Earlier this year, Tankian had expressed his support for the group’s activities aimed at conserving wildlife in Armenia after receiving a request to write a song that would highlight environmental problems in the country, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The activists treated the vegetarian rock singer to a slice of melon and presented him with a campaign T-shirt, thanking him for his support and voicing hope that he would address “environmental issues” in his songs, according to RFE/RL.
Leading environmental groups and non-governmental organizations in Armenia have resisted plans by the Armenian Copper Program mining company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit under the Teghut forest in the northern Lori province.
Critics have said the controversial mining project will wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s. Meanwhile, advocates of the mining company have insisted that the environmental cost of the plans will be more than offset by lots of new jobs that will be created in the economically depressed area.
Tankian, for his part, thanked the environmental activists for their work which he said is “important to everyone,” reported RFE/RL.
When asked to give advice to the environmental activists, Tankian said: “I myself take advice from activists.”
The government has given the green light to the controversial mining project in Teghut. However, members of the Teghut group believe Tankian’s voice will be heard by the government, especially since Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian is known to be a big fan of rock music.
Late last month Teghut activists protested in front of a commercial bank in Yerevan that plans to fund the project. Police force was used during the demonstrations where it was reported that at least one activist was injured in the scuffle.