BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I recently attended a program where the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund was discussed.
The organizers pointed out flaws in the work of the organization, mostly in its form, and saw corruption manifested through those flaws.
There is no question that corruption is rampant in the Republic of Armenia and throughout the former USSR. It should come as no surprise that the Armenia Fund could be susceptible to some of that.
Of course it is obvious that the Armenia Fund does important work in our homeland. So there’s a dilemma. How to continue reaping the benefits of this effort while minimizing its problems, in this case, corruption? This applies even to the APPEARANCE of corruption which can harm the organization’s credibility and ability to perform its duties.
Someone came up with an excellent suggestion at the close of the program.
It turns out that quite a few members of our two republics’ governments sit on the board of the Armenia Fund. The number cited during the program was thirteen, (though at least some of those individuals are not government officials, despite being part of the homeland’s current power structures). This serves no purpose. Guidance as to what projects the Armenia Fund should undertake can be delivered to its board of trustees from the governments without the membership of government officials. No board would undertake any other projects, unless some extremely outlandish idea was presented. This creates a good check, a counterbalance, to the inherent power and influence of government.
One of the key ideas presented in the ethics trainings I have to go through because I serve on local government-appointed boards is that even the APPEARANCE of a conflict of interested is problematic. In the case of the Armenia Fund’s Board of Trustees, we have at a minimum the APPEARANCE of potential corruption. Why not eliminate that appearance since no substantive purpose is served by the presence of government officials? Leave in place the various organizations’ representatives and noted business leaders. Let them do their jobs.
If the presidents of our two Republics were to be named as “honorary co-chairs” or some other such title for the sake of conveying the importance of Armenia Fund, I could see that. Otherwise, the petition (born of the event I mentioned above) requesting this change in the composition of Armenia Fund’s Board of Trustees is something I plan to sign.
I hope you two will sign the petition when it is circulated.