OTTAWA– Three high-ranking Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) officials met Aris Babikian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada at the agency’s Gatineau, Quebec headquarters on July 26 to brief the ANCC representative on CIDA projects, with particular emphasis in the Caucasus in the past four years.
During the 90-minute meeting, CIDA briefed Babikian with the agency developmen’s, policies, priorities and its focus on countries of strategic interest to Canada. After the 2006 parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government by the Conservative Party, the agency’s priorities have been under review. New directions and priorities are expected to be announced in September.
The CIDA officials also briefed Babikian on agency-sponsored projects in Javak (southwest Georgia), training local Armenia’s as civil servants, implementing legal aid programs for the Armenian minority, teaching Armenia’s the Georgian language, and other projects.
In turn, the ANCC executive director updated the CIDA officials with the latest developmen’s in Armenia’s Rural Poverty Eradication Programme (RPEP) program, analyzed recent Armenia parliamentary elections’ results, and the positive assessment of the election process by the international community.
Babikian also briefed the Canadian Government representatives with the Canadian-Armenian community’s contribution to Armenia’since the former Soviet republic gained its independence. The CIDA officials said that they highly valued the private initiatives of Canadian-Armenia’s in Armenia.
The ANCC executive director urged CIDA to be more actively involved in Armenia. Armenia deserve to be awarded for its successful implantation of the principles of free market economy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, protection of civil and human rights of its citizens, and other democratic ideals, said Babikian. He pointed out that many international organizations have testified that Armenia is one of the most successful of the former Soviet Republics.
The two sides discussed RPEP activities at length. The ANCC considers CIDA’s sponsorship and involvement in the project as a positive sign and an incentive to the Republic of Armenia to continue on the reform path.
Babikian presented CIDA representatives with a detailed documentation of RPEP programs, Canadian corporate investmen’s in Armenia, Canadian NGO input in Armenia’s development, and provided reports from international institutions which gave positive evaluation of Armenia’s economic, political and social progress.
“We are quite optimist that our meeting created a positive outlook with the CIDA officials. They were very attentive to our presentation and to Armenia’s needs. We are confident that this visit will pay dividends in the near future,” stated Babikian.