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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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

Update No: 319 - (26/07/07)

The Ottoman hang-over
Robert Kocharian, the president of Armenia, has rightly enough called relations with Turkey 'complicated.' Speaking through the German publication Spiegel's Web site, he stated that "neither the United States nor Russia can aid us in overcoming the barriers between us and Turkey." Insisting that Armenia's relationship with Turkey was anything but simple, Kocharian said that direct talks were the only solution, but that "the light at the end of that tunnel" was not in sight. 

Touching on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenian troops, Kocharian warned that there was great danger of armed warfare flaring up in the region once again, but that they would not be the first to resort to a military solution. 

The border gate between Turkey and Armenia has been closed for more than a decade. Turkey closed the gate and severed its diplomatic relations with Armenia when Armenian troops entered Nagorno-Karabakh after Yerevan in November 1989 declared the enclave part of its territory and under its sovereignty. Ankara now says normalization of ties depends on Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as on progress in resolution of a series of bilateral disagreements. 

Among the demands is the discontinuation of Armenia's support for Armenian diaspora efforts to get international recognition for an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire in 1915. The problem is that the evidence points to a ferocious act of genocide, killing one and a half million Armenians. 

To go or not to go
Kocharian has a personal problem on his hands. He has had two terms as president and is debarred by the constitution from a third. So is Putin in Russia, who appears to be abiding by the rules. How can Kocharian do differently in a country espousing liberal-democracy and aspiring to EU membership one day? To bend them would be to join Lukashenka of Belarus in villainy and disrepute.

He appears to be ready to step down, making way for his new premier, a former minister of defence, a very key post in Armenia, Serzh Sarkisyan. His Republican Party won one third of the votes in parliamentary elections in May, which were accorded international recognition. Armenia wants to maintain a sound reputation abroad. Everything depends on that.

Sarkisyan will make sure that his former boss never wants for anything in the material line, that's for sure, with a thought to his own eventual elevation to elder statesman status. Kocharian was born in 1954, which means that his fifty-fourth birthday comes next year. He is still young in political terms and has had the taste of real power all right. It is possible that he will try and pull a fast one to stay in situ. An emergency is required. Maybe it will turn up.

Armenia/Azerbaijan: Separatist Saakyan wins Nagorno-Karabakh poll
It has not turned up in Nagorno-Karabakh - yet, although events could see it happen. Bako Saakyan, a former security chief, has won 85 percent of the votes in a leadership election in the Azeri breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the central election commission said on July 20th. 

Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in the 1990s but no country has recognised it. The 46-year-old Saakyan says he wants full independence for the enclave from Azerbaijan, and has vowed to make the sliver of land and its 140,000 people "an example of democratic rule". But the EU immediately declared that it would never recognise it as an autonomous state. 

Muslim Azerbaijan, which lost control of Nagorno-Karabakh after a war against Armenia in the early 1990s, has denounced the election as illegal under international law. 

Nevertheless, the forces on the ground are those that matter and the vote could be used by the ethnic Armenian enclave to affirm independence from Azerbaijan. If Azerbaijan then declares it void, Kocharian could then have on his hands the crisis that would justify him in reconsidering his position. Everybody in Armenia knows that he was once president of Nagorno-Karabakh himself.

Karabakh leader Arkady Gukasyan, who is stepping down after holding the post for two five-year terms, has tried to make a parallel with the Serbian province of Kosovo, saying that if Kosovo gets independence then Karabakh should have it too. 

The election was largely personality driven. Saakyan's main rival, the 39-year-old Masis Mailyan, who also wants full independence, won just over 12 percent of the vote.



Russia and Armenia to build NPP

A Russian-Armenian group working on new nuclear power infrastructure for Armenia recently met in Yerevan to discuss security guarantees for the country's existing nuclear power station and cooperation in constructing new units, Interfax News Agency reported.
The Armenian side elaborated on their plans to develop their energy grid, while Russian representatives presented project details for a new nuclear power plant.
During an April visit to Yerevan, the head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Sergey Kiriyenko, stated that Russia was ready to provide both technical and financial assistance in constructing a new nuclear power station for Armenia. According to Regnum, the new 1,000 MW (megawatt) station will cost US$ two billion to build. US$ 240 million will be needed to decommission Armenia's aging Metsamor nuclear power plant, which is slated for closure by 2016. The plant, built in 1975, was initially closed following the devastating 1988 earthquake. One of two units, with a 400 MW capacity, was reactivated in 1995. Metsamor produces 40 percent of Armenia's electricity.

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