Position of RA Environment Minister In Regard With Complaint Filed to Berne Convention Secretariat by NGOs

Position of RA Environment Minister In Regard With Complaint Filed to Berne Convention Secretariat by NGOs

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RA Environment Ministry has submitted its position in regard with the complaint filed by NGOs in terms of Amulsar gold-bearing quartzite mining project.

Reminder: In March 2020, Andrey Ralev, on behalf of "Ecolur" Informational NGO, Armenian  Forests NGO,  Green Armenia NGO and  CEE Bankwatch  Network, filed a complaint to the Bern Convention Secretariat. The complaint particularly said that the Armenian Government has violated Article 4, point 1 and 2, Article 5 and Article 6 of the Bern Convention by issuing permits to the Amulsar Gold Project and allowing significant impact on protected habitats and species from Resolution No. 4 (1996) and Resolution No. 6 (1998) of the Standing Committee. The project is situated within and has already impacted territories of Emerald Site "Djermuk" area AM0000009 and could have further significant impacts on other Emerald sites: "Sevan" National park AM0000002 and "Gorhayk" area AM0000002, all three adopted as candidate sites by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention. Armenian Government disregarded procedures for evaluation of projects impacting Emerald sites by not doing proper assessment on protected species and habitats, and the EIA reports applied methodologies that violate the Bern Convention and are incompatible with the Emerald Network

In this regard, RA Deputy Environment Minister Irina Ghaplanyan’s letter no. 4/08.8/8058 dated on 21.07.2020 says:

“Dear Colleagues,

The  Ministry  of Environment  of the  Republic of Armenia  presents  its  compliments  to the  Secretariat  of  the   Convention  on  the  Conservation  of  European  Wildlife  and Natural   Habitats   and   expresses   its   gratitude   for   the   strong   cooperation   and contribution  in  bringing countries together to conserve  the global  nature.

Referring to the  Complaint submitted  to the Convention by Andrey Ralev, on behalf of "Ecolur"  Informational  NGO, Armenian  Forests NGO,  Green Armenia NGO and  CEE Bankwatch  Network  I  would  like  to  bring  your  attention  to  the  fact  that  this  item remains  high  on our agenda.

Since 2008, the signature and ratification of the Bern Convention, Armenia has been working on setting-up of the Emerald Network according to the Bern Convention Resolutions  No.   4  (1994)  and   No.  6 (1998).  Accordingly,  in  2017  the   "Emerald Network"  new  list  of candidate  sites  for  Armenia  was presented  to the  Secretariat  of the Convention  (uploaded  to the site).

The submitted  list  of candidate  sites  was developed  jointly  by specialists  and  experts, and  it was  suggested  both-  to enlarge the  borders of previously submitted   sites  and include  new  ones.  As  a result,  the  new  list  of candidate  sites  constituted  23  potential sites  with  more  than  1 million  ha  of  area,   which  comprises  34,7   %   of  the  entire territory of the Republic of Armenia including "Djermuk" area, "Sevan" National  park, "Gorhajk"  area  and  other  sites  where  major  industrial  and  economic  activities  are underway.

The abovementioned  list of candidate  sites was  not officially agreed  neither with the Ministry of Environment (formerly Ministry of Nature Protection),  nor circulated with other relevant  state  national  authorities  prior  to submission  to the Secretariat  of the Bern   Convention.     We  are  currently  investigating  this  procedural   breach  and  will consecutively  be taking respective measures to address it.

I would  like  to also  note that a number  of experts and specialists  who participated  in the project for the development of the candidate sites were contractually engaged  as experts  in  the  development  of the  EIA  of the  Lydian  Armenia's  Amulsar  Gold  Mine Project.  This  circumstance  is  also  subject  to  further  inquiry  by the  Ministry  and possibly other relevant authorities.

In  light  of this  and considering  the fact that during  different  events organized  within the framework  of Convention  the issue  of revision  of the Emerald  Network  candidate sites was discussed, the Ministry  of Environment  has  initiated  review and optimization of the previously submitted  list.

In order to ensure evidence-based, rigorous and relevant data pertaining to candidate sites, additional and extensive field work is required. After the mentioned activities are implemented the Ministry of Environment will intern and officially communicate the optimized   list   of candidate   sites  of  Emerald   Network   to  the   Secretariat   of  the Convention.

Allow me to once again to reiterate that we are committed to our obligations under the Bern   Convention    and we    are    ready   to    provide   any   additional   information regarding this issue.

Sincerely,

Irina Ghaplanyan – RA Deputy Environment Minister”

It should be mentioned that the position of RA Environment Ministry will be discussed at the second Bureau Meeting to be held on 15-16 September, 2020.

 

20:05 July 29, 2020


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