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ARMENIA


  
   

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 2,367 2,100 1,900 135
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 790 570 530 143
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Armenia

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
29,800

Population
3,326,448

Principal ethnic groups
Armenian 93.3%
Azeri 2.6%
Russian 2%

Capital
Yerevan

Currency
Dram

President
Robert Kocharian
 

 

Update No: 284 - (27/08/04)

Nagorno-Karabakh the key
Armenian President Robert Kocharian's administration is facing growing pressure to moderate its hard-line position on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. But any suggestion that Armenia is prepared to explore the return of Azeri territory seized during the Karabakh conflict is threatening to stir domestic political trouble for Kocharian. 
The United States is seeking to break the existing stalemate in Karabakh peace talks and is pressing Armenia to agree to the return of regions captured during the 1991-94 conflict. Armenia is being asked to return between three and six of the seven areas seized from Azerbaijan. The only area that has not come up in discussions is Lachin, the corridor of land that connects Karabakh with Armenia proper. Kocharian has adamantly opposed giving back what Armenians describe as "liberated territories" as a precondition to a comprehensive peace settlement. 
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has said that Yerevan was prepared to discuss the return of the territories. Gul mentioned a meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, held on the sidelines of the June 28-29 NATO summit in Istanbul, saying that the Armenian participant, Vartan Oskanian, declared: "We [Armenia] can withdraw from all territories except Karabakh."
But Oskanian subsequently denied making any such statement during the meeting. This shows the problem. All sides are prepared to be conciliatory in private, but not in public.
Certain ambiguous comments of Kocharian's during a June 23 session of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) helped fuel speculation about a possible deal. Kocharian stated at one point that the question of what Azerbaijan insists are "occupied lands" could have been settled long ago if Baku had implemented the so-called Key West principles, which mandated that Armenia vacate captured Azeri territory. He also stressed that any potential handover would have to be part of a general Karabakh settlement. 
"We are ready for serious negotiations on a full-scale solution to the conflict," Armenia Today reported Kocharian as telling PACE. "That is exactly why we have accepted the last formula for resolution offered by international mediators which, unfortunately, [was] rejected by Azerbaijan." 
Some Armenian observers have speculated that in making these remarks Kocharian may have been seeking to prepare Armenian public opinion for a policy shift on the territory handover issue. Azerbaijan has denied that any bargain was struck during the Key West peace talks in 2001. 
But this is all speculation without any firm confirmation from the facts Only when a full-blown conference on the issue is announced will there be any real grounds for optimism. 

Delicate political situation
The speculation about the Karabakh issue comes at an awkward political moment for Kocharian. Though opposition coalition protests that roiled Yerevan this spring have been suspended, Kocharian critics remain committed to a six-month boycott of the Armenian parliament. Many of them are to the right of even Kocharian on the subject. Despite the coalition's relative weaknesses, any effort to return Azeri territory could potentially give the opposition an issue, with which it could inflict considerable damage on Kocharian's administration. 
Kocharian is no doubt mindful of the circumstances that led to his rise to the presidency. In 1998, the willingness of then-president Levon Ter-Petrosian to embrace a gradual approach to a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement sparked a chain of events that led to his forced resignation. 
A June 25 opinion poll, carried out by the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, underscored the risks for Kocharian. It found that only 1 percent of the 1,950 respondents polled nationwide believed that the captured territories should be returned to Azerbaijan. By contrast, 45.5 percent wanted the lands to remain under Armenian control. Another 11.2 percent called for the regions to be equally divided between Armenia and Azerbaijan, while just under a third said that they should be made part of Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, only 2.5 percent of the survey's respondents expressed trust in the Armenian authorities to resolve the Karabakh stalemate. 

Baku hardens its line
Meanwhile, there are indications coming out of Azerbaijan that Baku's Karabakh negotiating position is hardening. In July 16 talks with the OSCE Minsk Group, that oversees the Karabakh peace process, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Defense Minister Safar Abiyev maintained that Armenia must meet four 1993 UN resolutions that call for the country's unconditional withdrawal from land outside of Karabakh. During a public appearance July 20, Aliyev vowed that Azerbaijan "would liberate its occupied territories at any cost," the Turan news agency reported. 
The Minsk Group's US, French and Russian co-chairmen -- Steven Mann, Henri Jacolin and Yuri Merzlyakov -- cautioned that the two countries' failure to compromise could lead to a resumption of hostilities over Karabakh. Concerns about a renewed outbreak of fighting have risen in recent weeks. 

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BANKING

Armenia to be home to new commercial bank


A new commercial bank with foreign capital is being set up in Armenia, Armenian central bank Chairman, Tigran Sarkisian, said, Interfax News Agency reported. 
He said the central bank has agreed to provide a licence to ArmSwiss Invest & Trust Bank, founded by Swiss citizens of Armenian origin involved in international finance and industry. Sarkisian said that the initial charter capital of the bank amounts to 6m. He said, "The founders of ArmSwiss Invest & Trust Bank plan to introduce new banking instruments that are not used by the other 19 commercial banks in the republic."

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ENERGY

Iran sets up wind turbines in Armenia

According to the Tehran Times, the Managing Director of the Sanir Company, Alireza Kadkhodai, said on August 2nd that Iran will start installing wind turbines in Armenia as of next year. 
Kadkhodai added that necessary studies have been carried out and a suitable location has been selected. "Wind farms are usually built on a small scale and with low capacity. The Armenian wind farm will compromise four units with total capacity of 2.6MW which can be developed to 20MW," he noted.

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FINANCIAL NEWS

Foreign investment 20 per cent up in Armenia

According to preliminary information, foreign investment in Armenia's economy has totalled US$90m, having grown by 20 per cent in comparison with the same period of the last year, Armenian Trade and Economic Development Minister, Karen Chshmarityan, said, Arminfo reported recently. 
The volume of direct foreign investment in the country's economy grew by 39 per cent in the reported period [first six months of 2004], having reached US$60m, he said.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Armenian premier, Syrian trade minister discuss cooperation

Stimulating multilateral Armenian-Syrian relations plays an important role in Armenia's Middle East policy, Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Markaryan, said at a meeting with a Syrian delegation led by the trade minister and co-chairman of the Syrian-Armenian intergovernment economic commission, Ghassan al-Rifa'i. 
Markaryan added that although over the period of establishing diplomatic relations the sides have made efforts to develop trade, economic, scientific and cultural relations and bring economic relations in line with political relations, the economic relations between the two countries, however, could not have been regarded as satisfactory up till now, Noyan Tapan News Agency reported. 
Ghassan al-Rifa'i informed Markaryan about the second sitting of the intergovernment economic commission. He said that a number of important agreements on healthcare, communications, telecommunications, tourism etc. had been signed as a result of the sitting. He spoke about Syria's plans to establish a special working group to monitor the fulfilment of these agreements.
Noyan Tapan learnt from the government's press service that the sides hoped that the forthcoming visit to Armenia by Syrian Prime Minister, Muhammad Naji al-Itri, would give an extra impetus to the development of the bilateral relations.

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FOREIGN LOANS

WB offers Armenia 34.3m for 3 credit programmes

The Armenian government and World Bank signed 3 credit programmes on July 30th for an overall 34.3m. At a briefing after the signing, Finance and Economics Minister, Vardan Khachatrian, said that 10.15m will be utilised in overhauling the state management system for the country and 19m for modernising its healthcare system, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The other credit of 5.15m will be used to finance the social security sphere. The credits will be extended on easy International Development Association terms for 40 years at an annual rate of 0.75% with a 10-year grace period.
Khachatrian said World Bank is the first to allocate money for the reformation of Armenia's state management sector. The funds are slated for introducing an electronic digital signature system, which will improve the state management system's operation and the transparency of its actions. The healthcare credit money will be used to repair medical institutions, buy new equipment, retrain doctors and develop the institution of family doctors, an extra 1.25m grant will be attached to this credit.

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