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July 16
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For the first time, the US brought a group of local leaders to Armenia; the US connects them with local colleagues in Armenia. This was stated by the US Department of State Special Representative for City and State Diplomacy, Ambassador Nina Hachigian, speaking with reporters Monday within the framework of the US-Armenia Local Democracy Forum that has started in Yerevan.

The US hopes that these relations will be lasting, and the people will be more connected, Hachigian added.

To the question as to what will be the first major Armenian-American project that will be implemented in cooperation with the US, she responded that the local leaders themselves shall decide that. The business communities of the two countries will work together, the US State Department never tells local leaders what to do; it is up to them to decide, and the US simply forms the connections and supports them, Hachigian added.

The mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Paige Cognetti, in her turn, noted that it is a great honor to participate in the US-Armenia Local Democracy Forum, and she got to know the mayor of Armenia’s Armavir city. Today they are still talking at the level of ideas, how to make the residents trust their government, and she is very excited that they will implement this project within the framework of partnership with Armavir, Cognetti added.

And to the remark that last week there was a rather harsh clash between the police and opposition activists in downtown Yerevan, and when asked whether this fits into democratic values Nina Hachigian responded that the right to assemble peacefully is a vital right in a democracy, but, also, when there is an established democracy, the way to political change is the democratic system.

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