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ARMENIA


  
  



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: 305 - (30/05/06)

Armenia is obliged to cleave to Russia. It is its only powerful friend in a hostile world - the Caucasus peopled by Islamicists and others of imperfect sympathy with itself. 
A terrible tragedy is pulling them even closer together.

Worst plane crash ever 
President Robert Kocharian rushed his influential defence minister to southern Russia early on May 3rd to investigate the worst plane crash in Armenia's history and declared a two-day period of national mourning for its more than one hundred victims, which included dozens of Russians. Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed at once. 
There were many top personnel among the dead, including a former head of the Armenian KGB and leaders of the aviation industry itself. In a small country where everyone knows everybody else an event of this magnitude is deeply and widely felt.
Kocharian held an emergency meeting with Defence Minister, Serzh Sarkisian, Prime Minister, Andranik Markarian, and senior Armenian officials immediately after news of the deadly accident reached Yerevan. A statement by his press service said Sarkisian was instructed to clarify its "causes and circumstances on the spot." The Armenian Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case in connection with the crash, it added. 
Sarkisian was joined in Sochi by Russian Transport Minister, Igor Levitin. The two men co-chair the Russian-Armenian inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation. 

Common Armenian and Russian grief
The tragedy may bring the Armenians and Russians closer together. They are already natural allies in Caucasus affairs.
Kocharian was contacted by phone by Putin immediately. A statement released by the Kremlin said Putin briefed him on the "large-scale search and rescue operation conducted by the Russian side in the disaster area and planned further actions." "Robert Kocharian expressed gratitude for the telephone call and the detailed information," the statement said. "Armenian specialists will join in the operation very soon." 
Putin and Kocharian were also cited as describing the plane crash as a "common tragedy of the Armenian and Russian peoples." Armenia officially mourned its victims on May 5th and 6th. May 5th was also a day of national mourning in Russia. 
At least twenty-six of the 113 passengers and crew on board the Airbus A-320 of the Armenian national airline Armavia, which crashed into the Black Sea off the Russian coast in stormy weather, were Russian citizens. 
Virtually all of the other victims are believed to have been Armenian nationals. It emerged that among them were Vyacheslav Yaralov, deputy director of Armavia and the former head of Armenia's civil aviation authority, Husik Harutiunian, a business executive who used to head the Armenian branch of the Soviet KGB in the late 1980s, as well as the son of Karlos Petrosian, former head of the National Security Service, the Armenian successor to the KGB. 
Kocharian formed a separate government commission tasked with repatriating the bodies of the Armenian victims and organizing their funeral in Armenia. The commission will be headed by Minister for Local Government, Hovik Abrahamian. 
The Armenian parliament, meanwhile, observed a minute of silence in memory of the dead before adjourning its regular session. Deputies also decided to form a multi-party ad hoc group that will take part in the Russian-Armenian probe of the crash. 
It also emerged that one of the deputies, Ashot Aghababian, also checked in for the fatal Yerevan-Sochi flight but decided not to board the Armavia jet at the last-minute request of Galust Sahakian, his brother-in-law and one of the leaders of the parliament majority. Sahakian said he asked Aghababian to stay in Yerevan and take part in a parliament vote that had been scheduled for May 3rd. 

US hopes for agreement between Kocharian and Aliyev in Romania
Sean McCormack, an official of the US Department of State, said this in commentary on the result of the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried to the South Caucasus. "Fried was to the South Caucasus working with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, Russia as well as France, to see if we could find a way forward on resolving the Nagorno Karabakh issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan," Sean McCormack said. "I don't have a readout for you as to what sort of progress they may have made," he added.
"I know that the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia are scheduled to get together in Bucharest, Romania, in early June. They made a run at it while they were in France. They weren't able to come to agreement," the US official stressed.
"We, working with the Minsk Group co-chairs, are hopeful that they can come together to resolve whatever differences there are. These are tough issues, we know. It's going to require tough political decisions on both sides. But we think that at the end of the day, taking this tough political decisions will benefit all the peoples of the region," McCormack concluded.

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ECONOMY

Armenian economy grows 7.9% in Q1 


Armenian GDP grew 7.9 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2006 to 265.9 billion dram, the National Statistics Service said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Industrial output fell 4.7 per cent to 137.9 billion dram, however agricultural output rose 3.5 per cent to 40.2 billion dram and services sector output rose 21.4 per cent to 95.4 billion dram. Foreign trade turnover grew seven per cent to 606.4 million Euro, including growth of 5.6 per cent to 184.4 million Euro for exports and 13.6 per cent to 422 million Euro for imports. The trade deficit was 237.6 million Euro. The 2006 budget targets GDP growth at 7.5 per cent. The economy grew 13.9 per cent in 2005.

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ENERGY

Sale of power plant to increase energy security


A deal to sell power-producing unit number five at Armenia's Razdan thermal power plant to Russian gas giant Gazprom will strengthen Armenia's energy security and increase its competitiveness, Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Margarian, said, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said the funds received from the sale of the energy unit would be used to compensate for an increase in price for Russian gas for the public and for industry.
"If the Armenian government did not decide to compensate for gas prices for industrial companies, we could expect significant growth in price for local products, both inside the republic and abroad," the prime minister said. He said that thanks to this deal the cost of industrial products in the republic will be lower than in other Commonwealth of Independent States countries, as a result Armenia would be in a better situation than other CIS states. "This deal is correct, in that it is aimed at simulating exports of Armenian products," Margarian said. He said that not only gas prices, but also electricity prices would remain unchanged for three years.
The premier said that the sale of the fifth power-producing unit has made it possible to carry out significant compensation, as the republic's budget does not have this amount of revenue. However, the prime minister said that Armenia will continue to build a third power line to Iran and a second strand of the Iran-Armenia pipeline, and the deal with Gazprom will not influence these two projects. The Armenian government has decided to sell the Razdan-5 power unit to the Russian gas company, Gazprom, for 248.8 million Euro, he said.

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Armenia expects foreign investment at same level 

Armenia expects that foreign investment in its economy in 2006 will remain at 504.5 million Euro, the level of the previous year, Deputy Trade and Economic Development Minister, Tigran Davtian, said at a press conference on April 6, Interfax News Agency reported. 
A total of 1.996 billion Euro in foreign investment has been invested in the Armenian economy in the fourteen years since its independence, including 1.46 billion Euro of direct foreign investment, he said. The peak year was 2005, when total foreign investment exceeded 500 million Euro for the first time, Davtian said. Investment in the real sector of the economy rose 31per cent to 400.4 million Euro, he said. The telecommunication sector saw 132.1 million Euro in investment and 97.5 million Euro was invested in the mining sector largely because of the privatisation of the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant. There was 53.3 million Euro invested in metallurgy, mainly in the Armenal packaging plant.

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FOREIGN LOANS

WB loans Armenia 5m Euro to develop renewable energy 

The World Bank has approved a five million Euro loan for Armenia to develop renewable energy in the country, the World Bank office in Yerevan said, Interfax News Agency reported.
"The project will increase the role of renewable resources in Armenia's electricity generation mix in the future thereby increasing the diversification of electricity supply and energy security," said Gevorg Sargsyan, head of the World Bank team designing the project. "It will also generate environmental benefits by reducing emissions and pollution." The main goal of the project is to build a sustainable market-based capacity to develop and finance renewable energy projects on commercial terms. The two components of the Renewable Energy Project are assistance to remove barriers and support project implementation and financing of investment. IDA and grant funds will be channelled through the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund, which will provide finance to private investors through a financial intermediary. The 40-year loan has an interest rate of an annual 0.75 per cent and a deferment period for the first ten years. The overall cost of the renewable energy programme over the next five years is 18 million Euro, an office representative said. 
A fund has been set up to carry out the programme. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it was ready to contribute to the fund and will provide a seven million Euro loan for these purposes. The Gafeschan Family Fund will provide a three million Euro loan and the United Nations Development Programme's Global Environment Facility (UNDP/GEF) will also issue a three million Euro grant. This project will assist the government to increase privately owned and operated power generation utilising renewable energy and to reduce greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) emissions by overcoming barriers to the development of renewable energy. Following the energy crisis, Armenia has achieved results in reforming the power sector and improving its financial performance. The key remaining challenge for the sector is to ensure sustainable and reliable power supply by shifting reliance from costly and polluting sources of energy to lower cost and environmentally friendly alternatives and by increasing the energy diversification and achieving a higher degree of energy security through the utilisation of the indigenous renewable energy resources. While the overall legal and regulatory framework in Armenia is supportive to the development of renewable resources, private investments in renewable projects are delayed by a number of legal, regulatory, informational, financial, and institutional barriers. 

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MINING

Global Gold to invest 7.1m Euro in gold deposit 

Global Gold Mining will invest 7.1 million Euro in the Tukhmanuk gold deposit in northern Armenia in 2006-2007, the US company's regional director, Ashot Pogosian, said, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The company will invest 3.8 million Euro in operations and 3.3 million Euro in exploration, he said. The deposit will be open-cast mined for the first two years, and then the company will switch to deep mining, he said. He also said the project must undergo an environmental impact study and technical assessment. Pogosian said a contract will hopefully be signed in May and operations at the deposit will begin. 
The deposit will only be mined in summer due to the harsh local climate, and ore will then be processed at a nearby beneficiation plant for the rest of the year. Tukhmanuk has proven reserves of eight tonnes of gold and is potentially the country's second largest gold deposit after the Sotk field, said Global Gold chief geologist Genrikh Mkrtchian, who is also a member of the State Mineral Reserves Commission. The company plans to mine about 150,000 tonnes of ore over two years and produce about 800 kilograms of gold and 2,400 kilograms of silver, he said. The open-cast mine will employ about 90 people and the beneficiation plant will have about the same number of workers.

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