Friday, September 26, 2008

MCC head: Armenia program “moving ahead in all respects”

Millennium Challenge Armenia program “moving ahead in all respects”
MCC CEO Danilovich, Rep. Knollenberg discuss Armenia aid program
by Paul Chaderjian in Detroit and Emil Sanamyan

– Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R.-Mich.), co-chair of the Armenian Caucus and senior congressional appropriator, highlighted the importance of the five-year $235 million Millennium Challenge Corporation’s program in Armenia as Detroit’s Armenian community hosted MCC chief executive Ambassador John Danilovich on August 5.

Interviewed by the Armenian Reporter, Mr. Danilovich said that MCC’s program in Armenia was “moving ahead in all respects,” including rural road programs, which is being financed by the Armenian government.

“It is very impressive that one of our MCC countries is willing to take tangible demonstrable steps to support the MCC program,” he said in reference to Armenia’s decision to step in with its own funding not to miss the good summer weather. This happened after MCC “put a hold on the negotiations aspects of some package of the road works [over] the conduct of elections and what transpired after the elections,” developments that raised concerns in the United States government.

“De-facto the hold [placed by the MCC] is not having an impact on the program” in Armenia because of the government funding, Mr. Danilovich suggested. He added that he has been in regular contact with Armenia’s President Serge Sargsian, who has outlined the steps he is taking to advance democracy
in Armenia and expressed hope for continued progress for Armenia to maintain its eligibility for the assistance program.

He described as “constructive and positive” MCC’s cooperation with Rep. Knollenberg, who is a senior member of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which oversees budgeting for MCC and other foreign aid programs.

“Rep. Knollenberg and I share a common interest for effective development assistance, for responsible foreign aid, in general, and also specifically in the case of Armenia,” Mr. Danilovich said. He added that the United States is committed to fighting poverty and facilitating Armenia’s progress, and was benefiting greatly from Mr. Knollenberg’s commitment to and understanding of Armenian issues.

The MCC CEO said his meeting with Detroit Armenians and an earlier meeting with the Armenian community in Glendale, Calif., were part of the corporation’s policy to reach out to interested American constituencies such as Armenians, Philippinos, and Salvadorans, whose home countries also stand to benefit from MCC compacts.

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