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ARMENIA


  
  



In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 2,797 2,367 2,100 139
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 950 790 570 143
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Armenia

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
29,800

Population
2,991,360

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

Capital
Yerevan

Currency
Dram

President
Robert Kocharian


 


Update No: 299 - (29/11/05)

Good news at last for Armenia
Armenia has a dictator in charge in Robert Kocharian who had the luck to be re-elected by fraudulent means just before the Rose Revolution in Georgia took place in Georgia in November, 2003. That revolution undoubtedly inspired the Orange Revolution in Ukraine last year, which then set an example for the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.
The dominoes are falling in the FSU and Kocharian must be as scared as an even worse dictator, Lukashenka, in Belarus. He is actually far more intelligent than Lukashenka. He does not want the ignominy of the fate of the ousted leaders of the colour revolutions. He is now repeatedly saying that he will not stand for a third term in 2008, which would require a change in the constitution.
Another consideration here is that he is being heavily influenced by events in Russia, where Putin is also insisting that he will not amend the constitution to allow him to stand for a third term in 2008, in an election to be held a few months earlier as it so happens. Putin now really appears to mean it, as his reshuffle of the Russian government indictees, (see Russia in newnations.com).
Having been saved by a few months in 2003, Kocharian would be undone by a few months in 2008. He can perfectly well see that a wave of indignation would sweep the country if he did not do the same as Putin. It is a tribute to his intelligence that he is drawing the right conclusions.

Indications abound 
Samvel Nikoyan of the governing Republican Party (HHK) was at pains to dismiss one of the opposition arguments against the enactment of constitutional amendments sought by Kocharian and endorsed by the West. These do not involve allowing a third term, he claimed.
The current Armenian constitution bans the president of the republic from holding office for more than two consecutive terms. Some oppositionists, notably supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, maintain that Kocharian would declare the amended constitution a new legal document and start a fresh countdown of his tenures. They seemed to have missed the point - or why is the West backing them?
Nikoyan brushed aside the speculation as he campaigned for the amendments in Maralik, a small town in the northwestern Shirak region. "Besides, [Kocharian] himself has repeatedly stated that he does not have such intentions," he said. "All those political forces that have backed him until now are also of the opinion that the constitution must be respected and that no president must have the right to be re-elected for a third term." 
Kocharian's spokesman Victor Soghomonian has likewise said that the Armenian leader will have "no legal grounds" to stay in power after completing his second term in 2008. "I have been assured by some pretty authoritative people that that is not a realistic prospect," US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans told RFE/RL in September, commenting on the possibility of a third Kocharian term. 
Addressing about 500 residents of Maralik who gathered in a local auditorium, Nikoyan also pointed out that success of the constitutional reform would give Armenia an important edge over arch-foe Azerbaijan which has faced strong Western criticism over its handling of the November 6th parliamentary election. "With this referendum, we have an opportunity to tell Europe that it is we, not Azerbaijan, who carry its Christian values," he said. 
Kocharian's leading political opponents made totally different arguments as they toured the neighbouring Lori region in a huge motorcade consisting of about 50 cars. The trip culminated in a rally in the region's administrative centre Vanadzor that was attended by over a thousand people. Victor Dallakian, an outspoken opposition lawmaker, read out a statement by two dozen opposition parties jointly campaigning against the proposed amendments. 
"By rejecting the constitutional changes, you will reject the government that perpetrated barbaric acts against people on April 12, 2004, you will reject those who rigged the 1998 and 2003 presidential elections, you will reject Kocharian and his regime," read the statement. 
Another opposition leader, Vazgen Manukian, told the crowd to prepare for street protests in Yerevan planned by the opposition. "If they rig the referendum and again try to seize the country by force and deceit, you will have the right to revolt and put an end to this regime," he said. 

US Believes in Democratic Reforms in Armenia 
The following report by official internet outlet PanArmenian.net shows a massively important sign of things to come:
"Inclusion of Armenia in Millennium Challenges Account evidences that the US believes in democratic reforms being implemented by the republic authorities," Armenian Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian, said in mid-November. "We get large sums from the US as they believe in the future of Armenia. Only 16 countries receive similar financial support - 16 out of 120 countries that have taken the way of democratization and provide resources for development of the society," the Armenian FM said. 
It should be remembered that during its November 8th session the Millennium Challenges Corporation Council again named Armenia among countries eligible for receiving financing from the Millennium Challenges Account in FY 2006. The Armenian Government expects to receive US$175 million.
Constitutional reforms acquire much importance in that respect and November 27 Armenia will be at focus of world attention. "I urge everyone to say "yes" to that Constitution, as it will have a direct impact on your lives," V. Oskanian added. In his turn US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans was being diplomatic when he said that he did not link the assistance expected within the Millennium Challenges Account with the reforms in the country. "The US wants Armenia to be a successful country. Armenia has managed to make a good proposal over poverty reduction in rural areas," the Ambassador emphasized, adding that the US has provided US$1.6 billion to Armenia recently, reported RFE/RL, the lion's share of which (US$118 million) will be used to restore the irrigation system, while the rest will be spent to repair roads

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ENERGY

Iran provides 3.5m Euro for first Wind Power Plant 

Sahak Abrahamian, the chief manager of High-Voltage Power Lines company announced recently that the first ever Armenian wind power plant would be ready to generate electricity in the near future, New Europe reported.
The plant is being constructed by the Iranian Sanir Company, which will also install the equipment. It is the first wind-generated electricity plant in Armenia constructed mainly by Iranian engineers outside their country. This power plant is located in northeastern Armenia and is comprised of four units each offering 660 kilowatt of electricity. Abrahamian said the Armenian Public Services Regulatory Commission is expected to give the plant a licence and will also set the price of one kilowatt of its electricity. The government of Iran donated 3.5 million Euro for the construction of the plant. Iran has also announced that it is ready to participate in construction of the electricity transmission line of 320 kilowatt from Armenia to Georgia. 

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FINANCIAL NEWS

Foreign trade up 32% in 3Q 

According to Armstat data, Armenia's foreign trade in the first nine months of the year increased to 32.2 percent from a year ago standing at around two billion Euro, reported Interfax News Agency.
The data revealed that the negative trade balance was 561.3 million Euro. Armstat also said Armenian exports rose almost 40 per cent to 687 million Euro and imports were up 30 per cent to around 1.2 billion Euro. It also said retail trade volume in the nine months rose 7 per cent standing at 1.2 billion Euro. Armenia's gross domestic product expanded 11.6 per cent year on year to 1.4 trillion dram in January-September, the country's national statistics service told Interfax. Armstat also said that Armenian power generating facilities produced over that time 4.7 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity, a 6.7 per cent growth from a year ago. Industrial output was up 6.2 per cent to 472.4 billion dram in the first nine months of the year, agricultural production grew 9 per cent year on year to 320.9 billion dram and construction grew 34 per cent to 263.3 billion dram.

IMF pleased with Armenia's index of economic growth 

International Monetary Fund Dutch Group executive director Jerome Kremers announced recently that Armenia's index of economic growth is going well. He expressed satisfaction with the index of economic growth registered in Armenia during the last few years. According to Kremers, Armenia for the fifth year in a row has achieved a double digit economic growth that is a record indicated on the world level. He said that a report about the fulfilment of the three-year long Poverty Reduction Programme will be presented to the IMF Board of directors in the near future. Kremers is expected to represent Armenia on the Board, New Europe reported.
However, Kremers added that Armenia should not be satisfied with its progress, and if reforms are continued then the situation here will improve considerably. The Fund, however believes that the main targets of Armenia's economy remain increasing tax and customs collections, and especially reducing poverty in order to put the benefits of economic growth to use for everyone. The IMF will issue Armenia a preferential loan of 33 million Euro to Armenia in the next three years to resolve these problems. Commenting on the reliability of official statistics, Kremers said that the statistical data pertaining to Armenia's economy fully meet their requirements otherwise they would not be working with Armenia. 

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Armenian president visits Greece 

Armenian president, Robert Kocharian, was recently on a three day visit to Greece at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias, New Europe reported.
The main aim of the visit was to deepen bilateral relations and outline priorities of Armenian-Greek economic cooperation, as well as hold an exchange of opinions on issues of bilateral interest. The Armenian delegation includes foreign, transport and communication, and agriculture ministers, the chairman of a parliament committee on foreign affairs Armen Rustamian, Armenian ambassador to Greece and other officials, Interfax quoted Kocharian's press office as saying. 
During the three-day visit president Kocharian met Greek president Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, parliament president Anna Psaruda Benaki, as well as leaders of parliamentary parties. Kocharian also met the mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyan. The delegations of both sides also discussed a variety of issues regarding the prospects for expansion of bilateral ties. In Athens Kocharian participated in the official opening of the new premises of the Armenian embassy and also met representatives of the local Armenian community. Armenians in Greece are mainly traders and craftspeople, specialising especially in jewellery and diamond cutting, also in shoemaking and furniture production.

Armenia, Latvia entrepreneurs sign agreements 

Ashot Tovmasian, president of a Latvian TMH company recnelty signed in Yerevan an agreement with Armenian Menaghik Company on export of Armenian perlite to the Baltic country and establishment of a plant for processing, Interfax News Agency reported.
The ethnic Armenian president of the Latvian company recently said that 1.5 million Euro will be invested in the Armenian-Latvian-Dutch company for processing of perlite, which is supposed to produce its first output in January 2006.

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TRANSPORT

Consortium required to rebuild railroad link in Abkhazia-Levitin

Russia, Georgia and Armenia should set up a consortium to rebuild the railroad line in Abkhazia, Russian transport minister and co-chairman of the Russian-Armenian Economic Cooperation Commission Igor Levitin announced at a meeting in Yerevan, New Europe reported recently. 
Levitin said he would soon visit Georgia to discuss the cost of the reconstruction and the contribution of each side to the project. "A major goal of my Tbilisi visit is to receive confirmation of Georgia's consent to resume railroad traffic in Abkhazia within the framework of an intergovernmental accord," Levitin said.

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