Consequent meeting of the Stakeholders' Committee was held on April 29, 2008.
Finally the following agenda was agreed: MCA-Armenia CEO presented progress on implementation for the period of the last meeting up to now, representatives of the Stakeholders’ Committee report, Hrachik Javadyan’s application to the resignation as a representative of the Stakeholders’ Committee at the Governing Council and Myron Hirniak letter on April 11, 2008. Since discussions prolonged, two other items of the agenda - election of the new representative to the Governing Board and "Water to Market" project results and future steps - were postponed to May 6, 2008.
First, it was offered to include - development of democratic institutions in Armenia as a precondition for MCA-Armenia implementation – in the agenda. This suggestion was declined as a result of vote (pro-4, con-5, and abstain-4). Majority of members of the Stakeholders’ Committee consider the issue out of the topic and competence. Meanwhile as a compromise, it was decided to organize public hearings in early May focusing on various issues concerning MCA-Armenia.
Heavy discussions and debates were around the second issue that is Myron Hirniak’s letter regarding apparent conflict of interest related to Ashot Voskanyan case. Mr. Myron Hirniak was formally invited to the meeting for clarification of the situation yet he was absent.
The main objective of Mr. Ashot Voskanyan case is that being elected by the Stakeholders’ Committee as a voting member of the MCA-Armenia Governing Council to represent civil society he also holds the position of Director of the Agricultural Support Republican Center (ASRC) that is under direct supervision of the Minister of Agriculture. As mentioned in Myron Hirniak letter this “…would appear to have a conflict in his ability to act objectively and independently from that ministry in representing the interests of civil society”. Accordingly, Mr. Voskanyan impartiality as a voting member of the Governing Council is put in doubt.
In response, it was mentioned that no any apparent case of conflict of interest was registered since the moment when Ashot Voskanyan took the position of the Governing Council member and actually this case could be ascribed to any of the Governing Council members representing the civil society, that is why the Stakeholders’ Committee will soon undertake the process of revising the Stakeholders’ Committee Bylaws to prevent similar possible cases of conflict of interest. In addition, further discussions and appropriate measures revealing the possible situations that cause conflict of interest for Ashot Voskanyan will be undertaken and if such cases will be found, limitations to Ashot Voskanyan’s participation at the discussion and voting of the corresponding issues would be imposed.
According to the members of the Stakeholder’s Committee no such cases were registered and found. It was decided to develop a clear definition of the ‘conflict of interest’ term and appropriate procedures and mechanisms to avoid such cases in future though up to now there is no progress - mere words.
It is worth to mention that SC discussions were accompanied by poor management/coordination and as a result discussion of two points of the agenda were delayed since hour and a half participants were not able to agree on the agenda.