Armenian parliamentarian’s remarks cause storm

Friday, October 27, 2006 |  by Staff Writer

Vartan Ayvazian, a member of the Armenian parliament, caused a political storm when he made anti-Semitic statements concerning a drilling company in Armenia.

“Do you know whom you defend?” he was quoted by Armenian newspapers as angrily telling reporters. “You defend Jews. Why don’t you go and find out who’s behind Global Gold? Instead of preventing them from violating our country’s laws, you want to defend them?”

His remarks were a result of a bitter dispute between Armenia and the American mining company “Global Gold” that was jointly administered by Jews and Armenians. Ayvazian has made anti-Semitic comments in the past.

The Jewish community of Armenia was quick to publicize his latest remarks. The president of the Armenian Jewish community, Rimma Varzhapetian said Ayvazian’s statements were insulting and hurtful.

“A man in this position should not express himself in this manner. He should first think. What was said was very hurtful. There is no anti-Semitism in Armenia and the Jews live in a nice atmosphere,” she said. “We think there are personal interests involved, which in no way extend to the Armenian people and government,” so we don’t want to make a fuss about that.”

The dispute between Ayvazian and Global Gold arose when the Environment Ministry decided to revoke the company’s license to carry out exploratory work at one of its Armenian gold mines saying it failed to honor its investment commitments. The company denies the accusations and will not leave before a court ruling.

Global Gold is run by Van Krikorian, a prominent American Armenian and former chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America.

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