Yesterday, the RA government decided to allocate 147.51 hectares of land belonging to the rural community of Artavaz to the company A&M Rare Ltd. Much of the land in question is forested acreage in the public trust.
The transfer came in the form of an open-ended, non-cost, leasing arrangement and was proposed by Minister of Agriculture Sergo Karapetyan.It is the Ministry of Agriculture that is mandated with the protection and preservation of Armenia’s forests.
So what were the arguments used by Minister Karapetyan to justify the land transfer to Saudi Arabian Sheikh Muhammed Musallami and Armenian MP Gagik Abrahamyan. (The latter is the brother of Russian-Armenian businessman Ara Abrahamyan).
Here’s the official justification:
“Due to the non-systematic logging as a consequence of the energy crisis of the 1990s, the forests of Armenia were badly damaged. Much of the forests have been degraded and are no longer able to reproduce. In addition, the forests no longer carry out their environmental functions (halting land erosion, water regulation, soil protection). Erosion and soil loss has begun. Due to the energy crisis, the forests and forested lands of Kotayk Marz have also suffered and are in need of serious preservation. Thus, the preservation of these degraded forests is a primary problem for the country.”
There’s also an interesting passage in the bill. Let’s quote a part dealing with public participation.
“The public was never informed regarding the RA government’s decision to allocate forested lands to A&M Rare Ltd. The public never participated in the drafting of the bill or hearings regarding the RA government’s decision to allocate forested lands to A&M Rare Ltd.”
In a word, this government couldn't care less what the people think.
Dear members of the government, there are lands in the Ararat Valley, in Lori and Tavoush, the forests of Syunik, which are also degraded. Lake Sevan is turning into marshland...So why don’t you take all these lands and hand them over to a few sheikhs and finish your despicable mission.
After this, we will know whom to petition with our demands.