YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Armen Sarkissian has criticized a pan-Armenian charity for donating to Armenia’s government most of $170 million raised by it for Nagorno-Karabakh during the recent war.
Sarkissian said the unusual move undermined donors’ trust in the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. He urged the government to release a detailed report on how it has used the economic and humanitarian aid to Karabakh.
Hayastan All-Armenian Fund launched an international fundraising campaign immediately after the outbreak of the war on September 27. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians from around the world responded to its appeal for urgent aid to Karabakh and its population severely affected by the fighting. They donated roughly $170 million to the group within weeks.
It emerged afterwards that 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 hefty donation will finance the government’s “infrastructure, social and healthcare expenditures” necessitated by the six-week war.
In a statement issued on Sunday, December 6, Sarkissian’s office revealed that he objected to the financial contribution approved by most members of Hayastan’s board of trustees headed by the Armenian president. It said he believes the decision left the fund’s donors suspecting that “their trust has been abused.”
According to the statement, Sarkissian has sent a letter to the board members arguing for “urgent steps” that should be taken before the donors’ “trust in the Government and the Fund has been finally lost.”