Armenia has become more democratic than ever before since last year’s mass protests that brought down its former government, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Lynne Tracy, said on Wednesday.
Tracy praised the current Armenian authorities for holding “free, fair and democratic” parliamentary elections in December and combatting corruption.
“I don’t need to tell you that democracy in Armenia is stronger than ever,” she said, addressing members the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia (AmCham). “And as the events of last spring showed us, change starts with and is driven by Armenians.”
“I plan to continue to support the Armenian people as they make choices to develop and solidify their democracy in a way that bolsters the rule of law and protects human dignity,” she said.
“I am especially encouraged by the government’s efforts to root out corruption and promote transparency,” Tracy went on. “This will help level the playing field and signal to the international community that Armenia is a country that respects the rule of law and is open for business. This is particularly important given the strong potential for improved U.S.-Armenian economic relationship.”
In a September 2018 letter to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, U.S. President Donald Trump praised the “velvet revolution” and expressed readiness to help the new Armenian government implement sweeping reforms promised by it. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly saluted the “remarkable changes” in Armenia.
Pashinian complained in March, however, about Washington’s “zero reaction” to democratic change in his country. He seemed unhappy with the fact that there has been no significant increase in U.S. economic assistance to Yerevan since the revolution which brought him to power.
Tracy countered afterwards that in 2018 the United States provided $26.7 million in assistance to Armenia in addition to an ongoing $66 million aid program implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The U.S. ambassador again cited these figures in her latest speech. She also emphasized that overall U.S. assistance to the South Caucasus nation has totaled over $2 billion since 1992. And she confirmed that Washington will allocate up to $16 million in fresh aid to Yerevan this year.
U.S. and Armenian government delegations announced an agreement on that aid allocation last week after holding talks in Yerevan described by them as “strategic dialogue.” The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. Tracy described the talks as “fruitful and frank.”