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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)

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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: 293 - (27/05/05)

On Sunday April 24th hundreds of thousands gathered in Yerevan to mark 90 years since the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in 1915. This was the first of the twentieth century's genocides, although ferocious killings and ethnic cleansing of a genocidal nature had already occurred in the Balkan wars just before the First World War.
The next to contemplate genocide was Hitler who said in 1938: "Who today remembers the genocide of the Armenians?" He of course had another set of genocides in mind.
The Khmer Rouge, the Rwandans and Saddam Hussein made sure that the second half of the twentieth century was not free of genocide either. The twenty-first saw Saddam attempt an extinction of the Marsh Arab way of life amounting to genocide, which the invasion of Iraq in 2003 successfully prevented (a fact that, inexplicably, was not invoked by the victors to justify the conflict, particularly so in Tony Blair's case since it was British troops that were the saviours here). The Geneva Convention on Genocide of 1948 explicitly sanctions outside interference to "punish or prevent" genocide.

Turkey may establish relations with Armenia
Turkey's prime minister said his country could establish political relations with Armenia if the two sides agree to research jointly the killings of Armenians during World War I, which Armenians say was a genocide, but which the Turks deny that it was. 
Turkey has no diplomatic ties with Armenia; indeed it operates a trade blockade with the country consequent on the Armenian occupation of 20% of Azeri territory. But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the daily Milliyet, that Turkey might establish political ties if Armenia agreed to his proposal. "Political relations might be established on one side and studies (about killings) can continue on the other side," Milliyet quoted Erdogan as saying. 
Turkey has been opening up on the subject under pressure from the European Union ahead of negotiations on membership in the bloc. 
Earlier this month, Erdogan sent a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian inviting Armenia to set up a joint research committee. Kocharian reportedly responded by saying ties should be formed first, according to Turkish newspapers. 
Armenians say some 1.5 million of their people were killed as the Ottoman Empire forced them from eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923 in a deliberate campaign of genocide. 
Turkey denies a genocide was committed, saying the death count is inflated and insisting that Armenians were killed or displaced as the Ottoman Empire tried to secure its border with Russia and stop attacks by Armenian militants.

No 'Rose Revolution' in Armenia
President Robert Kocharian appeared confident on April 11th that the wave of successful anti-government uprisings across the former Soviet Union will not reach Armenia, saying that it has a strong and efficient government. He also joined other Armenian leaders in stressing the need for major concessions for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 
Kocharian's comments, made at a meeting with students of Yerevan State University, were his first public reaction to the recent dramatic events in Kyrgyzstan whose longtime autocratic president was toppled by angry opposition crowds as a result of reputedly fraudulent parliamentary elections. The Kyrgyz revolution rekindled talk of a similar regime change in Armenia where the opposition refuses to accept the legitimacy of Kocharian's re-election two years ago. 
The Armenian opposition already tried unsuccessfully last spring to replicate Georgia's spectacular "Rose Revolution." The success of the November "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine and the anti-government revolt in Kyrgyzstan could tempt its leaders to make another push for power this year. 
Kocharian reiterated his argument that they stand no chance of ousting him in a similar fashion because his administration boasts a much stronger security apparatus and has a better economic track record than the toppled regimes in the three ex-Soviet republics did. He said those regimes were led by Soviet-era elites that were swept aside by their younger former disciples. Armenia has already had two such "generation changes" since the fall of Communism and is not in a post-election period, he added. 
"These four factors have nothing to do with the situation in Armenia," Kocharian continued, responding to a student's question. "Nobody doubts the determination of Armenia's government. The generation change has long taken place in Armenia. In Armenia, we have no oppositionists that were dismissed for working actively [in government]. On the contrary, [they were fired] either for shortcomings or a number of other sins." 
Kocharian did not claim that the disputed 2003 elections that gave him a second term in office were more democratic than those held in Georgia, Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan. He instead complained that his political opponents are too obsessed with regime change in Armenia to stop challenging his legitimacy and end their year-long boycott of parliament sessions. 
"They have failed not because they are too bad, but because our country is better and its government is more effective. If they realize this, maybe their complexes will ease and they will calm down," he noted in a remark that might be construed as both ridicule and praise. 
Kocharian's top allies have likewise ruled out any spillover effects of the ex-Soviet revolutions. "The situation in Armenia is not like that in neighbouring countries or Central Asian republics," Prime Minister Andranik Markarian told reporters on March 28. 
Kocharian again cited official macroeconomic statistics to defend his seven-year record in office, dismissing claims that Armenia's economic growth has largely benefited a small class of wealthy government-connected citizens. He admitted that even his wife Bella shares scepticism about the official growth figures. 
"My wife told me ahead of this meeting yesterday, 'Don't talk much about that growth, you get criticized for that'. But I am convinced that it is necessary to talk about that," he said, complaining that government ministers shy away from publicly defending the their economic policies. 
According to official figures, the Armenian economy grew by 10 percent last year and is on track to expand at a similar rate this year. 
Kocharian insisted that benefits of the growth are finally trickling down. He argued, for example, that the government plans to spend an extra 77 billion drams ($170 million) in 2005. 
Kocharian also pointedly acknowledged the inevitability of major Armenian concessions as he commented on the current state of the Karabakh peace process. "Today we must accept that compromises for the conflict's resolution are inevitable," he said. "As for the extent of those compromises, let us not talk about them today." 
Kocharian repeated his influential Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian's claims that a pro-Armenian solution to the Karabakh dispute requires strong public support for the authorities in Yerevan. "The firmer we are, the more we will get," the Armenian leader said. "The more we get, the better." 
Sarkisian, who is seen as Kocharian's most likely successor, made a case for a compromise settlement with Azerbaijan in his latest public statements on Karabakh. Some observers and media have speculated that Yerevan is preparing ground for its acceptance of a new peace plan put forward by the U.S., Russian and French mediators. 
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are expected to discuss the plan at a meeting in London. The two men could also set a date for potentially crucial talks between Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliev. This, if it led to a rapprochement between the two nations, will do more than anything else to improve the miserable lives of so many poor Armenians. For the borders of Turkey and Azerbaijan to reopen and those ancient hostilities consigned to the dustbin of history, a new chapter could open up for this impoverished mountain state.
Despite Kocharian and his ministers saying why an 'orange' revolution will not happen there, they know full well that it is quite possible closer to another election.

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ENERGY

Armenian premier, Iranian deputy minister discuss gas pipeline construction

Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Markaryan, and Deputy Oil Minister of Iran, Asadollah Salehi-Foruz, discussed issues related to the construction of the Armenia-Iran gas pipeline in Yerevan, Arminfo Yerevan reported.
During the meeting, the sides also discussed Armenian-Iranian cooperation in the energy sphere. Expressing their satisfaction with the current level of Armenian-Iranian cooperation, Markaryan and Salehi-Foruz pointed out that there was great potential for deepening bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Belarusian leadership, Armenian PM discuss cooperation

Armenia is a country with which one can have the very best relations. Like no other people in the former Soviet Union, the Armenians remain faithful to the friendship we have had, Belarusian President, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, said in Minsk recently, Public Television of Armenia reported. 
President Lukashenka stressed the importance of putting the days of Armenian TV and showing Armenian films within the framework of events which will strengthen relations between the two friendly nations, while helping each nation learn about each others' culture. 
Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Markaryan, asked the Belarusian president to allocate a plot of land for the Armenian community so that an Armenian church can be constructed. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka instructed his people to resolve the issue immediately. The Armenian prime minister and the Belarusian president also discussed prospects for developing economic relations. 
According to last year's statistics, Armenia was ranked ninth among Belarus's trade partners in the CIS countries, with a US$11m trade turnover that is 12 per cent higher than in 2003. 
Armenia is our perspective partner in the South Caucasus, the Belarusian authorities noted. 
Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan met Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka during his official visit to Belarus. The sides assessed positively the two countries' political and economic relations. 
The Armenian-Belarus business forum opened in Minsk recently. The forum confirmed the main directions of cooperation, trade, agriculture, machine-building, high technologies and other spheres. 
Andranik Markaryan met Belarusian Prime Minister, Syarhey Sidorski. Some joint agreements were signed. Andranik Markaryan and Syarhey Sidorski signed a memorandum on free trade. Under the existing agreements there were restrictions on the trade of sugar and alcohol. Now these restrictions have been lifted. 
The Armenian health minister also signed an agreement on cooperation with his Belarusian counterpart in the health sphere. Armenian Public TV and the Belarusian National State TV Company also agreed to cooperate. Chairman of the board of directors of Armenian Public Television and Radio Aleksan Arutyunyan said there are prospects for cooperation and for the creation of joint projects. 

Armenian foreign minister, EU official discuss cooperation, Karabakh

Armenian Foreign Minister, Vardan Oskanyan, and Ambassador Heikki Talvitie, the special representative of the European Union [EU] to the South Caucasus, have discussed three sets of issues at a meeting, the Armenian foreign minister told a joint press conference with Talvitie, Arminfo, Yerevan reported.
The minister said that the first set of issues referred to cooperation between Armenia and the EU which has acquired new quality in connection with the country's inclusion into the New Neighbourhood policy. The minister said that it is planned to submit a draft programme of individual development by the end of the year and there is quite a lot of work ahead which will also depend on the content of this document.
The second set of issues is related to the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. The minister said that the negotiating process, the developments around this issue and its possible outcome, as well as the frequent truce violation were discussed.
The third set of issues includes relations between Armenia and Turkey in the context of the exchange of letters by the leaders of the two countries and the upcoming talks on Turkey's entry into the EU. "The dialogue focused on these three directions. There is understanding and I think that our contacts will be more frequent in the months to come," the minister said.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Armenia and Slovenia talk better business relations

A congress of Armenian and Slovenian businessmen was organised by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia and the Union of Businessmen and Entrepreneurs at the Yerevan Hotel on March 31st, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The main goal of this business forum was to foster relations between Slovenia and Armenia. The Slovenian ambassador to Armenia said that the congress was held within the framework of the visit of Dimitri Rupel, Slovenian foreign minister and president of OSCE. She noted that 15 Slovenian businessmen participated at the congress. Natasha Marake, representative of the Trade and Industry Hall, presented Slovenia's macroeconomic indices and the size of Armenia-Slovenia's goods turnover. Gross domestic product (GDP) of this tiny country with a population of two million is 26 billion Euro; economic growth is 4.5%. Per capita index of GDP is 16.400 Euro. The main trade partners of Slovenia are neighbouring Austria, Italy, Hungary as well as Germany and France. Armenian Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Davit Avetisisan presented the macroeconomic indices to Slovenian colleagues. He stated that Armenia-Slovenia goods turnover is 1.1m euro, Armenia imports from Slovenia goods for one million Euro. Pharmaceutical goods are in the first place with 700,000 Euro, while Armenia exports goods, mainly textiles and chemicals for 100,000 Euro.

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