EU report: UK, U.S. "pressure" Armenia over mining dispute

EU report: UK, U.S.

PanARMENIAN.Net - An internal report by the European Union Delegation to Armenia states that the United Kingdom and United States have pressured the country over the Amulsar gold mining project, openDemocracy reports.

The mine shot to the forefront of Armenian politics after the country underwent its “Velvet Revolution” in 2018, when public protests forced the ruling Republican Party out of power. In the aftermath local residents and environmental activists began a blockade of the unfinished $400m mining project, bringing them into conflict with British-American mining company Lydian International, the company’s international supporters and the Armenian government.

The internal EU report, dated October 2019, touches on the international dimension to the Amulsar standoff. As a result of the nearly two-year blockade, Lydian has been unable to access the Amulsar site and finish construction on the project, which is backed by resource investment funds, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as well as the UK and U.S. governments.

The report, obtained under Freedom of Information from the European External Action Service (EEAS), states that "Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been under pressure from the different stakeholders, including U.S. and UK governments" over the Amulsar standoff.

"The U.S. and UK governments," the partially redacted report continues, "hope Lydian would not be discriminated [against] and a similar approach towards other mining companies operating in Armenia would be applied."

Campaigners, as well as a British MP, have criticised the role of the UK Foreign Office in supporting Lydian International in its dispute with the Armenian government.

“This report confirms the suspicions held by many that the UK is acting on behalf of a company seeking to open a dangerous gold mine,” said Jean Blaylock, campaign and policy manager at Global Justice Now. “And more, a company that is using ‘corporate courts’ to try and bully the Armenian government into shutting down public protests against the mine.”

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