The Republic of Armenia Ecology Ministry and the RA Human Rights Defender's Office, according to environmentalists, have adopted neutral attitude towards the issue of construction of motels at Gilan state reservation of Khosrov Forest State Preservation.
Such an announcement was made at a press conference on February 10 by Karine Danielyan, Hrant Sargsyan, Marine Oganezova and Mariam Sukhudyan, members of the SOS-Khosrov working group of the Ecological-Social Union.
Environmentalists are convinced that construction of different buildings at the reservation and making it an "every-day path" can endanger one of the three reservations of Armenia (the other two being Erebuni and Shikahogh Reservations).
"The Human Rights Defender's Office responded neutrally to our letter: they simply wrote that the preservation was changed into a reservation by some decision and what meetings were held and what decisions were made. The Ecology Ministry wrote the same adding also that two new national parks were founded. They were indeed founded and it is very good, but it sounds like they request to close eyes at this one shortcoming," environmentalist Karine Danielyan commented on the above official responses for www.hra.am.
"People do not understand that all this is very illogical; they say: "Look, how wonderful these buildings are, what conveniences are created for vacationers," Sargsyan says indignantly.
After the noise raised by young environmentalists and visits of state officials to Khosrov Preservation, a special commission was established to deal with the issue; however, in environmentalists' opinion, everything worked according to the saying "If you want to close a question, establish a commission."
Environmentalists keep on insisting that the RA laws and international conventions have been violated, in particular, the RA Law on Specially Protected Natural Areas, the UN Aarhus and Biodiversity Conventions.
"The law and the conventions stipulate that any activity that disturbs or can disturb the ecosystem stability (what we witness in this case) is forbidden on the territory of the RA state preservation... If things go on like this, and we have already received two reprimands for loggings at Dalma Park and Teghut forest, it is possible that our country may be asked to leave international conventions which will be a shame for our country," Danielyan says.
Danielyan also considers the grounds of the RA Government decision of 2007 of changing Gilan into a reservation being ridiculous.
"Under the Land Code, changing the land status needs serious grounds, and this decision reads that the land status is downgraded in order to protect flora and fauna and provide their stable use...Absolute lack of logic..." Danielyan argues.
Members of the SOS-Khosrov working group of the Ecological-Social Union are preparing to organize a special drive for signatures and continue raising the problem at all public structures. Young activist Mariam Sukhudyan offers to organize a monitoring group composed of volunteers who are ready to free of charge follow the developments at Gilan.
"They say that there used to be buildings, people used to live there and there is no biodiversity... Maybe when they were doing construction works and heavy machinery was operated on the area, there were no animals but I have been there many times and I will keep going there because everything was frozen and we have found traces of bears, wolves and chamois. It is a wonderful place for flora and fauna," Sukhudyan says.
www.hra.am tried to get explanations from the RA Ecology Ministry. Artsrun Pepanyan, head of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry, said that construction is stopped and only one small building was constructed . He also said that the Ministry cannot take any side since everything was done according to the decision of the Government.
"We are just a small part of the Government and cannot do anything but I don't think that the Government will do anything to result in being excluded from international conventions," Pepanyan said.