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27 04 2008 - Jabarian Column: USA ARMENIAN LIFE Magazine
April 25 Column) -- By Appo JABARIAN

Upon my return from Armenia on April 14, I wrote a two-part commentary titled "Armenia: A View From Yerevan," and "Ter-Petrossyan: Armenian's No. 1 National Security Threat." The commentary's e-version featured the link to a televised statement by "Armenian-Americans for Stability in Armenia," which was presented by this writer on behalf of the committee.

Nearly two weeks ago, a supporter of Armenia posted that statement on YouTube and by April 18, it was already watched by over 500 viewers. Soon after my e-commentary was disseminated, the number of viewers jumped to over 1,000. By press time on April 22, the number had already reached 1,230. Some of the viewers posted remarks expressing their opinions on the statement. One video and 29 written responses were posted. The reactions ranged from high approval to high disapproval. There was nothing unusual. Several other responses came via e-mail.

All responses came from politically active individuals except the one that came from a very unlikely source. It came from a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). On Monday, April 21, the editorial offices of USA Armenian Life Magazine received a letter titled "Repulse from Armenia!"

It said: "'Armenia[n] Life' exactly repeats the statements made by Kocharyan, and other barking 'puppies' like Tigran Torosyan or Aghvan Hovsepyan, but even in a more disapprobatory [sic] tones. These types of biased statements are more destabilizing rather than stabilizing, and forcing a thorny wedge between Armenia and Diaspora. Who gave you [Jabarian] the right to make an appeal on behalf of the Diasporan Armenians? Do you think that you are the 'Messiah' of the Nation? Your recent columns proved once again that you are paid prostitutes [sic] of Kocharyan-Serzh [Sargsyan] regime, and your publications remain at inferior level intended for 'hade bye's like you! -- P.S. 'Turkey Life' would be more appropriate to your bull s**t 'offline' magazine.…" -- It was signed "Ecological Academy NGO."

The website of "Ecological Academy NGO" describes its "mission statement" as follows: "'Ecological Academy' visualizes Armenia's future in sustainable and socio-economic development of the society, in parallel with environmental improvement and harmony. The ‘Ecological Academy’ is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that favors enhancement of environmental quality in the Republic of Armenia, advancement of environmental science and education, by carrying out educational, research, technical-advisory, project-appraisal, public-awareness-raising actions."

A brief research on the "Ecological Academy NGO" revealed that this particular NGO is financially linked to The Natural Capital Institute, a U.S.-based privately funded organization. The Institute boasts on its website: "Our donors choose to invest in the Fund because of our commitment to safeguarding their privacy."
The mere conflict of interest and action by the Ecological Academy raises a number of questions.

Is "Ecological Academy NGO" confounding its vision of "Armenia's future in sustainable and socio-economic development of the society, in parallel with environmental improvement and harmony" with its anti-Armenia political activities?

Are Ecological Academy's U.S. backers aware that their "Project" in Armenia is in fact conducting political opposition to the Armenian government as opposed to focusing on its "stated mission?"

Isn't Ecological Academy a non-profit organization that is exempted from income taxes, and as such is governed by the strict laws of Armenia?
Does one of the Armenian laws not explicitly bar NGO’s from any overt or covert political activity?

Speaking of NGO's in Armenia, there is no question that several NGO's are honest and genuine humanitarian enterprises. However, according to various reliable sources, there are a number of Armenian NGO's that are set up by foreign funds for the explicit purpose of covertly meddling in Armenia's internal political affairs. Is Ecological Academy one of these covert "NGO" operations?

Shall any of us be surprised to discover that certain NGO's are fronts for espionage and other treacherous activities, undermining the national security of a target nation -- in this case Armenia?

There is no question that Armenia's national security authorities are highly aware of the potential dangers presented by certain so-called NGO's. However, they may need to further step up their scrutiny of these foreign-funded NGO's.

Scrutinizing Foreign-Funded Non-Governmental Organizations in Armenia

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