YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday, September 16, accused environmental activists campaigning against the Amulsar gold mining project of misleading the public and said they must stop “demonizing” Armenia’s broader mining industry.
Pashinyan argued that the industry accounting for more than 40 percent of Armenian exports would be the country’s sole reliable source of hard currency in the event of a renewed war with Azerbaijan.
“Therefore, demonizing mining means dealing a blow to our national security,” he declared at a four-hour news conference held in the northern city of Vanadzor.
“Let’s leave mining alone … There is hardly a civilized country in the world where there is no mining industry,” he said.
Pashinyan spoke in the context of the continuing crisis over the Amulsar project disrupted by protesters in June 2018. He again insisted that his government cannot break any laws to prevent a British-American company, Lydian International, from mining gold at a massive deposit in the southeastern Vayots Dzor province.
“On this issue we must pursue the truth till the end and the truth itself must lead us to one or another decision [on Amulsar,]” he said. “And in terms of the truth, I find it very important that the public does not succumb to manipulations, including by my beloved and respected friends.”