On April 16, Media Center hosted a discussion-press-conference “Prior to Municipal Elections: Candidates on Environmental Challenges in Yerevan” with invited speakers Apres Zohrabyan (ARF), Gurgen Gasparyan (PAP), Susanna Muradyan (Barev Yerevan), Hrach Sargsyan (Mission), Hrayr Sargsyan (OEK) and Eva Tovmasyan (ANC), as well as leader of Ecolur information NGO Inga Zarafyan and president of For Sustainable Human Development NGO Karine Danielyan.
All the participants of the discussion assured that if elected into the city council they would take all possible measures to overcome the environmental challenges in the Armenian capital.
The candidates prioritized the pollution issues of Hrazdan gorge and Nubarashen, touched upon the issue of eliminated green areas under the excuse of superior state interest, impact of infill urban development in green areas, segmented privatization of parks and other issues.
“We will never get rid of infill development until we dismantle at least one building erected illegally by an oligarch,” Inga Zarafyan, heading Ecolur NGO, advised the candidates, stressing that NGOs, as opposed to political parties, are consistent in raising these issues and fighting to find solutions.
President of For Sustainable Human Development NGO Karine Danielyan believes that the solution of the existing environmental issues requires a serious political will.
“Even if the law is good, with lack of political will the law can be bypassed, the circular park [downtown Yerevan] is the most vivid example,” she said.
She pointed out un-recycled garbage in Nubarashen waste dump as a priority issue for Yerevan, and the recycling issue might have long been solved, she says, if Armenians did not think that the Japanese wanted to monopolize Armenian garbage.
“In our platform the main emphasis is on the creation and exploitation of a recycling factory. I reside in Nubarashen, and Karine Danielyan is right that the problems there have been only partly solved by the Japanese equipment, and if fully applied Nubarashen can at least be supplied with electricity,” said PAP representative Gurgen Gasparyan.
In reference to other issues, he pointed out that the contracts for cafes were signed 10 years ago licensing 50-60 years of operation, hence today's city council can do nothing about them.
According to Barev Yerevan alliance's Susanna Muradyan, Yerevan city plan is distorted every day with the city hall's permission.
“We will carry out urban development following the law, will green, arrange, regulate the field; yards will have parks rather than garages, we will solve the drainage issues, unlike the current mayor we will not possess public transport route lines,” she said.
ANC's Eva Tovmasyan defined the ongoing greening and beautification of Yerevan as decorative, which does not solve the air pollution issue.
“Public areas are appropriated mercilessly. So far none of the areas proclaimed superior state interest has served the society,” she said.
Full video footage of the discussion can be found at (link).