Books on Armenia
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 304 - (28/04/06)
French OSCE Minsk Group co-chair arrived in Karabakh with
specific proposals, but cannot disclose them
The Nagorno-Kharabakh dispute grinds remorselessly on, with hard-liner Robert
Kocharian, the former president of the enclave and now President of Armenia
itself, yielding nothing.
French Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement,
Bernard Fassier, announced on April 11th that he arrived in Baku with specific
proposals, but he could not reveal them. He added that these proposals do not
contain anything especially new. According to him, nevertheless, the Minsk Group
can only give new ideas and therefore assist in establishing peace, reports
Having separate trips to the region by the co-chairs is aimed at reaching
possible rapprochement of the conflicting parties, the co-chair is quoted as
saying. He expressed hope that the visit would push a momentum to a new stage in
the talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Fassier noted that last year the co-chairs "did a lot," but they
failed to advance at the meeting of the presidents in Rambouillet. At the same
time, he expressed co-chairs' hope of establishing "new opportunities"
in the negotiation process, which will open the way for a new meeting of the two
countries' presidents. It should be noted, in the morning Fassier had talks with
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov. The meeting was held in a
closed-door format, no statements have been made on its results.
Armenia to substitute Georgia in Russian wine market
There is nothing like self-interest to make people express the most fallacious
reasoning. John Maynard Keynes, the UK economist, is well-known for believing
that ideas are more important in shaping policy than vested interests in the
long run. One of his most eminent disciples, John Kenneth Galbraith, the
Canadian economist, who was price tsar of the US economy in the Second World
War, takes a very different view. He has said; "Vested interests win out
over idealism every time in my experience."
Chairman of the Armenian Wine-Makers Union Avak Arutyunyan has commented to a
correspondent on the ban of Georgian and Moldavian wine imports into Russia. He
called the decision made by the Russian authorities a rightful one. As he says,
"the Russian authorities should care, first of all, about the health of
their citizens." Which hypocritical rubbish his association now fully
expects to profit from.
As he believes, the decision of the Russian authorities will be "a severe
blow to the economies of Georgia and Moldavia, as 25-30% of GDP of these
countries is secured through wine-making."
"The parties can reach a compromise, if, of course, the political aspect is
settled. Actually, the issue of banning wine exports contains two aspects, a
technological and a political one, and the latter is not predominant," he
professes to believe (to which one can riposte - 'tell that to the marines' -
Transnistrian wines and brandies are being exempt from the ban).
Speaking about substitutes for banned Georgian wines, Arutyunyan said Armenia
will clearly expect to profit from the situation in the Russian market: "In
this case, Armenia can substitute Georgia, but we have a serious rival in the
person of France, and the Armenian government should at this stage take
immediate decisions and support Armenian wine-makers."
The following is a penetrating article on the political situation in Armenia:-
Opposition rep. sees 'political revenge' behind failed attempt of ex-chief of
presidential staff to build a party
By Astghik Bedevian
The decision of the former chief of President Robert Kocharian's staff to give
up building his own political party was commented upon by political forces in
Armenia. In the main, representatives of pro-government forces in the Armenian
parties see no political pressures behind Artashes Tumanian's refusal to
continue the process of establishing a new party, called Nor Yerkir, initiated
by him in March that resulted in his resignation from the post of chief of
The leader of the ruling Republican Party's parliamentary faction Galust
Sahakian said: "Both existing and newly emerging parties face serious
organizational problems today. And party building is not necessarily something
in which everyone can succeed." In a RFE/RL interview, however, Sahakian
did not rule out the possibility of political pressures. But in his opinion,
Tumanian is not a political figure who will retire from the political scene.
Representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF Dashnaktsutyun)
Armen Rustamian took a similar stand. "There is a popular saying: just
conceiving is not enough, you should wait for the child to be born to see
whether it is a baby boy or a baby girl," he said. "The same is with
this process. And for us nothing surprising has happened." According to
Rustamian, Dashnaktsutyun will continue its normal relations with Artashes
Tumanian regardless of the event as the latter was on the party's electoral list
during the past two parliamentary elections.
Member of Parliament Manuk Gasparian thinks that what happened to Tumanian is
the result of his miscalculating his political strength and failure to rally
sufficient political backing. "There was no revenge or pressure," he
added. In Gasparian's opinion, although he [Tumanian] had permission to set up a
party, he was not accepted as an ally by the authorities. Only the opposition is
convinced that the upper echelons of power took revenge on the former chief of
presidential staff. Viktor Dallakian of the opposition Artarutyun alliance said:
"I consider it as a political revenge and political vandalism. It shows
that political life in Armenia is paralysed, and no one, even those in power, is
guaranteed against such political vengeance." Meanwhile, Nor Yerkir party
initiative group member Robert Poladian said in a conversation with RFE/RL that
if someone took the responsibility to continue the work initiated by Tumanian,
he would stand by that person. But he added that no such person had volunteered
yet. According to Poladian, if the group fails to make a decision on its future
within a week, they will have to vacate the office they currently rent in one of
Yerevan's central streets.
Armavia Air Company to open regular flights
"Armavia" Air Company will fill up its summer schedule in two new
directions by launching flights from Yerevan to Anapa and Donetsk. According to
the Press Secretary of the company, Jasmine Vilyan, Armavia will also increase
the number of its flights to former destinations, namely to Paris, St.
Petersburg, Samara, Odessa, Simferopol, Beirut, Athens, Aleppo and Tehran,
reported Interfax News Agency.
"Although we envisage increasing frequency of these flights from April,
however taking into consideration that "Zvartnots" airport is
reconstructing the runway and all the flights are changed to night regime, all
projects will be postponed until July 2006, when the 24-hour service of the
airport resumes," Vilyan stated. Regarding transit flights, Vilyan said the
increase in the number of flights to Athens and Amsterdam would enable the
company to cooperate with other air companies which will increase the frequency
of the flights for transit passengers.
Gazprom reaches deal with Armenia
Armenia secured cheap natural gas supplies from Russia with prices locked in
until 2009 in a deal announced on April 6th, but it surrendered a tiny but
crucial section of its gas pipeline network in exchange, the International
Herald Tribune reported on April 7th.
In a settlement of the latest natural gas price squabble in the former Soviet
Union, Armenia will pay US$110 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas, about half what
the country pays now, Gazprom, the Russian monopoly, said in a statement.
In exchange, Gazprom will buy a 40 kilometre, or 25-mile, section of pipeline
connecting Armenia to Iran - the tiny and energy-poor country's only plausible
alternative to Russian energy supplies. Under the deal, Gazprom, through a joint
venture, was granted the concession to build a larger, second pipeline along
For Gazprom the deal is small, with projected sales of US$187m annually, but
potentially strategically important in Eurasian natural gas trading that Gazprom
hopes to dominate.
The pipeline route from Iran through Armenia that Gazprom now controls was
sometimes floated by energy watchers as a possible export corridor for Iranian
gas exports to Europe.
"Gazprom is strengthening its competitive advantages in the
republics," Roman Elagin, an oil and gas analyst at Renaissance Capital, a
Moscow brokerage, said. Armenia, he said, effectively bargained away its
prospects for diversifying its sources of energy in the future in exchange for
cheap prices now.
"Gazprom is the only supplier of gas to Armenia," he said.
"Armenia could try to diversify its supply. But with control of this
pipeline, Gazprom now controls the competitors' supply."
A spokesman for the Armenian Embassy in Moscow declined to comment.
With the deal, Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer, seemed to
operate at the intersection of corporate interests and the geopolitics of the
volatile south Caucasus.
Armenia is traditionally loyal to Moscow as a fellow Christian state, and Russia
is perceived as favouring Armenia in its war with neighbouring Azerbaijan over
the ethnic Armenian enclave of Karabakh. With talks on Karabakh set for this
spring, Russia's support is crucial for Armenia.
The war precludes energy exports from this oil-rich neighbouring country. That
leaves as a source of energy Iran, home of the world's second-largest natural
gas reserves after Russia.
A Gazprom spokesman declined to explain why the company had negotiated to
purchase the tiny pipe section leading from Iran. The company's state policy is
to control gas pipelines for the distribution of its own product.
At the same time, the spokesman, who declined to be identified because of
sensitivities of the Armenian government, denied that Gazprom intended to block
possible Iranian gas shipments westward.
"Why would we buy a pipe and turn it off?" the spokesman said.
Under the mechanics of the exchange, Gazprom will increase its share to a
majority in a joint venture, ArmRosGazprom.
Gazprom now owns 45 per cent of the joint venture, Armenia's Ministry of Energy
owns 45 per cent and 10 per cent by Itera, an energy trading company active in
the former Soviet Union with ties to Gazprom. The statement from Gazprom did not
clarify which of the two other parties would sell shares.
Armenian power utility boosts investment 89%
Electrical Network of Armenia (ENA) boosted investment 89 per cent in 2005 to
6.8 million Euro, Yevgeny Gladunchuk, ENA's general director, said, Interfax
News Agency reported.
Most of the money was spent on overhauling and modernising substations and
transmission lines, Glandunchuk said. He said equipment wear was severe and that
investment would be increased to 24 million Euro in 2006-2007, according to a
programme approved by the state public services regulator.
Armenia, Lebanon boost cooperation
Recently a meeting was held between Armenia's Minister of Trade and Economic
Development, Karen Chshmarityan, and Lebanese ambassador to Armenia, Jebrail
Jeara. During the talks, Chshmarityan said the operation of Vivacell Company on
the Armenian market is an example of successful cooperation between Armenia and
Lebanon, Interfax News Agency reported.
In turn, Jeara told Chshmarityan about a new offer from the Lebanese side to
create a free trade and industrial zone in Armenia and also start production
there, Interfax learnt from the press service of Armenia's ministry of trade and
economic development. Both sides agreed to study opportunities existing in the
economic sphere, with the objective of their most efficient utilization in the
two countries. K-Telecom, Telecommunication Company has operated on the Armenian
mobile communication market since July 1st under VivaCell trademark.