President Armen Sarkissian has still not received a financial report on the use of $100 million raised by a pan-Armenian charity for Nagorno-Karabakh and controversially donated to Armenia’s government.
The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund launched an international fundraising campaign immediately after the outbreak of the war in Karabakh on September 27. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians from around the world responded to its appeal for urgent aid to Karabakh and its population, donating roughly $170 million within weeks.
The charity headquartered in Yerevan redirected more than $100 million of those proceeds to the government. The Armenian Finance Ministry said on November 24 that the sum will finance the government’s “infrastructure, social and healthcare expenditures” necessitated by the six-week war.
Sarkissian publicly criticized the donation, saying that it undermined donors’ trust in Hayastan. In a December 6 statement issued by his office, he said the government should consider redefining the hefty contribution as a “loan” and eventually reimbursing the fund.
Sarkissian also urged the government to release a detailed report on how it has used the economic and humanitarian aid to Karabakh. The president is still awaiting such a report.
Hayastan’s executive director, Haykak Arshamian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday that he has asked the Ministry of Finance to specify in writing about “how that money has been used and will be used.” He said the fund has not yet received an adequate response that can be forwarded to President Sarkissian.
Arshamian at the same time defended the $100 million donation to the government, saying that it was authorized by most members of Hayastan’s board of trustees headed by Sarkissian.
Arshamian also argued that later in November Hayastan raised in the United States and France $26 million in fresh funds for Karabakh. “Does this testify to [donor] trust or distrust?” he said.
Hayastan has implemented $370 million worth of various infrastructure projects in Karabakh and Armenia since being set up in 1992. Its board of trustees mostly comprises Armenia’s political leaders and prominent Diaspora philanthropists.