An international company in charge of garbage collection in Yerevan has dropped its plans to hold a press conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, after hearing criticism over its decision in Armenia.
Sanitek, a Lebanese-run operator that has been under fire for over a year for its poor waste management in the Armenian capital, originally planned the event in the Georgian capital on July 31. It had also offered to cover travel and food expenses for the Armenian journalists who decide to attend the event. In a press release on July 30 the company said the press conference will be held in Yerevan on August 2.
“In order to avoid another occasion for anti-propaganda against the company and not to lose sight of the main goal, the press conference attended by representatives of the company will take place at Armenia Marriott Hotel in Yerevan on August 2,” Sanitek said.
In explaining why it had initially chosen the Georgian capital as a venue for the press conference, Sanitek said there had been no guarantees that some ‘unlawful persecution’ would not take place against the company’s shareholders and representatives.
The original plans of the company angered the opposition Luys faction of the Yerevan City Council. Urging Sanitek to revise its decision, Luys faction leader Davit Khazhakian said that otherwise it would send a bad message to foreign investors. “We believe that the holding of a press conference by a foreign investor in the capital of a neighboring state would directly affect the reputation of Yerevan,” Khazhakian said.
Since last year Sanitek has complained of financial difficulties in organizing garbage disposal in Yerevan, blaming poor roads and excessive damage to its equipment for its woes. In the meantime, Yerevan authorities have fined the company seven times for a total of $90 million (nearly $190,000) for falling short of required standards.
Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutian has not concealed his dissatisfaction with the work of the waste management company. During consultations at the municipality on July 29 he accused Sanitek of ‘only seeking profits and having no feeling of responsibility.” Marutian, who has repeatedly said before that he was also mindful of the contract obligations related to Sanitek, also spoke about Yerevan authorities’ improving the waste management situation in the city through their own efforts.
Commenting on Sanitek’s original plans for holding its press conference on major waste disposal issues connected with the Armenian capital in another country, Yerevan municipality spokesman Hakob Karapetian said: “I am not aware of any problem that could prevent [Sanitek] from holding its press conference in Yerevan. Perhaps they wanted more publicity. Perhaps they wanted to look like they are being persecuted.”