World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

World Bank retaliates against Parliamentary Whistleblower

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A World Bank Crisis for Armenia

The media has covered the Armenia crisis as it unfolded, through the recent pre-election period, on Election Day, and particularly since the subsequent bloody events of the 1st March. Irrespective of political leanings, all agree that Armenia is going through a crisis period. Through my Blowing the World Bank Whistle campaign, I have been reporting on Armenia’s crisis for more than a year, not as it unfolds, but through the latter period of its development. If not challenged, the crisis is destined to continue and worsen through many coming years.

The Kocharian / Sargsyan team now feels confident enough in their new illegally self-imposed Presidency to put the final pieces of the jigsaw into place. Parliament’s former Speaker, adorned by his recently adopted morals, has been reincarnated by Armenia’s new President Sargsyan, the very person who created him for a previous election fiasco, and together they are feverishly passing resolutions which on the one hand give Karabakh independence, whilst on the other take away any independence Armenia may have hitherto enjoyed.

In March this year, the UN General Assembly adopted an Azerbaijani motion reaffirming territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and demanding withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the occupied territories. The resolution refers to a UN fact-finding mission of 2005, which confirmed an outrageous Armenian policy of massive illegal settlement in the territories. Armenia has preferred to downplay that part of the equation, and the Minsk group, which has been coordinating conflict resolution for the past ten or more years, refers to the people located in the surrounding territories as ‘military personnel’. It is now generally understood that soon the final settlement will be signed and sealed, and that will be the starter for stage two of the World Bank’s crisis for Armenia.

In the lead up to the February election, Sargsyan and Kocharian promised to not capitulate on the Karabakh question. But on the 6th June, Sargsyan met with his Azerbaijani counterpart in St. Petersburg to talk about a final settlement, and he and Kocharian are now both expressing their eagerness to sign the conflict resolution agreement and immediately return the seven regions that make up the ‘surrounding territories’ to Azerbaijan.

When that agreement is signed, the Armenian settlers living in the occupied territories will flee their homes, many to Yerevan, where their new apartments have awaited them for the past several years, thanks to Armenia’s ever-caring authorities who have been laundering their illicit gains in Yerevan’s booming construction sector. Karabakh will not only have lost its security belt, but Armenia’s unique acknowledgment of Karabakhi independence will relieve its recently inaugurated President of any responsibility he may have had to his kinfolk. Karabakhi inhabitants will therefore join the exodus, fearful of an Azerbaijani onslaught, many to the apartments and the secure future which have long been under preparation for them in Galus Sarkissian’s Better than Heaven Armenia Yerevan. Bryza is now eventually talking about the international finances to fund this operation, which have no doubt long been agreed, and in recent months Armenia’s leaders have been putting into place the real-estate support services needed to reap the billions of dollars rewards for their years of patient money laundering.

The World Bank / International Monetary Fund crisis program for Armenia will soon be finally and successfully completed, and whilst it is difficult to imagine what may be the fate for those who remain in Karabakh, the future for the people of Armenia is inevitable - less independence, less freedom and many years of increasing oppression.

In exchange for Armenia’s agreement to capitulate on the Karabakh issue, the Bank and the IMF have been reporting an Armenian economic boom, with remarkable levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) and a thriving construction industry. But the WB/.IMF have known that FDI in Armenia has been nothing more than the re-assignment of stolen state assets to state cronies who have teamed up with oversees partners, often in Russia. The same financial institutions have also turned a blind eye to massive money laundering, preferring to praise wonderful achievements in the construction sector; the local currency has been artificially driven to ever-increasing highs to favor monopolistic importers - at the expense of ailing domestic production, but the sister institutions have reported the Dram has strengthened in response to the economic boom. And the alarming increase in corruption which has understandably accompanied this fallacious economic boom has attracted nothing more than WB/IMF lip-service.

The ‘Caucuses Tiger’ the Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been nurturing since the turn of the century is now fully grown, and it has broken out of its cage. It has turned on its own people, killing them for peacefully demonstrating their democratic rights. Moreover, it has turned on its master, calling the U.S. President a liar and criticizing his affairs in Iraq. So the international financial institutions, which for the past ten years have been extolling the marvelous achievements of Armenia’s administration, had the task of bringing their ‘Caucuses Tiger’ back under control.

As Armenia was moving into its meticulously prepared and nigh on irreversible WB/IMF crisis, the international community decided that it would no longer tolerate the deceit handed to it by Armenia’s tyrants. It would not be called a liar and have its international policies criticized, so it demonstrated its displeasure by cutting off international funding.

But years of feeding the ‘Caucuses Tiger’ with poverty reduction funds which were intended for the under-privileged, created a situation in which Armenia’s tyrants were generating a self-sustaining financial capability many times greater than the amount of international finance the Republic receives each year. So cutting off external finance would be of little significance, and could be compensated in a number of ways, such as by hikes in food and energy prices and by resorting to costly inter-governmental credits.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund resolved not to investigate the cause of the crisis, the rampant corruption the WB/IMF had been driving since the turn of the century, but to tame the beast they themselves had created. The Bank sent its INT investigation team to Armenia to navigate a ‘U-Turn’ away from Armenia’s economic boom toward a similarly manipulated, but more realistic collapsing Armenian economy. This again is at the expense of the people of Armenia, who are already paying the price over the counter, who will be burdened with costly inter-governmental credits, and who will suffer many years of increasing oppression.

With the determined support of Washington’s most influential human rights and freedom of speech organization, the ‘Government Accountability Project’ (GAP), for the past year we have been pressing the INT to carry out an investigation into this politically motivated and highly corrupt agenda the World Bank has been driving in Armenia since the turn of the century, based on comprehensively documented evidence I gathered as Senior Specialist for Vahan Hovhanissian’s Parliamentary Commission in 2004.

The Bank and its watchdog unit, the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) have little respect for transparency, preferring to conduct their activities behind closed doors. But it now appears that the INT has eventually carried out its investigation, using my claim as pretence. The latest World Bank Armenia report clearly shows that the ‘Caucuses Tiger’ is now having its teeth extracted and thorns stuck in its feet - by the very people who bottle fed it from birth and later, in the run-up to Armenia’s recent Presidential election, taught it how to stalk and kill its prey.

The final outcome of the Karabakh part of the equation has yet to be seen. But with similar determination and ever-widening exposure, it is hoped that when the agreement is eventually signed, the people who will suffer as a result will be able to claim the compensation to which they will be entitled.

Bruce Tasker

Senior Specialist

Armenian Parliamentary Commission (2003/4)


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