Washington briefing: U.S. agency cuts $67 million in Armenia funding
Published: Thursday June 11, 2009
Washington - The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board met on June 10 and decided that it "will not resume funding for any further road construction and rehabilitation" in Armenia, the agency said in a press release.
The MCC's five-year $235 million Armenia compact originally included $67 million for road construction and repair and $146 million for agriculture projects. The latter projects have continued.
"MCC regrets that it cannot move forward with funding road construction in Armenia," the corporation's acting CEO, Rodney Bent, said in a statement. "The responsibility for this outcome remains with the government of Armenia, whose actions have been inconsistent with the eligibility criteria that are at the heart of the MCC program. I do not anticipate that the Board will revisit this issue in the future."
The agency first introduced a hold on road projects after U.S. officials blamed the Armenian government for the violence that followed last year's presidential elections.
The latest ruling comes after the May 31 election for the Yerevan city council, the conduct of which received a mixed review from observers, including criticism from the U.S. Embassy.
The MCC is chaired by the secretary of state and its decisions are influenced by State Department determinations on whether a country is making progress toward meetings eligibility criteria.
[Asked by the Armenian Reporter for comment late on June 11, the head of media relations for Armenia's Foreign Ministry, Tigran Balayan, said the ministry had been focused on a visit from the Estonian foreign minister and had no immediate comment.]