Books on Armenia
Update No: 312 - (03/01/07)
Armenia is seen by its neighbours as an anomaly, much as is
Israel by its own. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has said that Israelis should
be relocated in Alaska. Azeris and Turks with a kindlier intention could wish
for Armenians to be relocated in California. It already hosts more Armenians in
the Diaspora there than there are in Yerevan.
Actually, Big Daddy is not the US, but Russia, without whom Armenia's very
existence would be in doubt. The Armenians are the main allies of Moscow in the
troubled Caucasus. The whole region is replete with the ramifications of a
Armenia plans to occupy Abkhazia? Georgian intelligentsia accuses Armenians
of genocide of Georgians
The following item amply testifies to this. APA news agency (Baku) reports that
60 representatives of the Georgian intelligentsia have demanded that Georgian
President Mikhail Saakashvili recognize the genocide committed by Armenians in
They say that in 1993, the "Bagramyan" military unit, together with
Abkhazians, fought against the Georgian army and killed Georgians living in
Abkhazia: "Before the Czar, Russia populated Georgian Javakheti with
Armenians, there had been no single Armenian in that region. However, today
Javakheti is mentioned as part of Armenia. Having 'crippled' the Georgian
monuments in the territory of Javakheti, the Armenians are not trying to
convince everybody that they are Armenian. All this is being done
systematically, and so, must be recognized as a genocide against the Georgian
Member of the Supreme Council of Abkhazia in exile Akaky Gasviani supports this
initiative and points out that the Armenians have a big role in the
"occupation" of Georgian lands and the establishment of the separatist
regime in Abkhazia.
The Golos Armenii daily publishes the abridged version of the article "What
Is Armenia Plotting Against Georgia," published in the Aisi daily (Georgia)
(Oct 3-9 2006). Golos Armenii says that the article tells how Armenians
populated Abkhazia and Ajaria and what the atrocities the "Bagramyan"
battalion committed during the war against the Georgians. "Journalist
Gogneli quotes "some expert on Armenian problems" as saying: "If
anybody thinks that the Russians will appropriate Abkhazia, he is mistaken.
Should they - God forbid - recognize Abkhazia as an independent, the Armenians
will occupy this region in just one year. Today, they are silent and are just
waiting for a good opportunity. But as soon as it happens, they will rise and
appropriate this Georgian region. Today, they are trying to occupy Abkhazia's
sea coast - they are actively working in this direction. Then, they will 'take
care of' Javakheti" and, finally, they will get access to the sea. This is
a part of their "Great Armenia" plan. So, we, the Georgians, must be
vigilant and wise. I wonder if our leadership is thinking about it?"
The Azg daily says that, neither in the Georgian mass media nor via its own
sources in Georgia, has it managed to find anything that could prove the
information of the Georgian daily. Asked by Azg to comment on the statement,
Ambassador of Georgia to Armenia Revaz Gachechiladze said that he knows nothing
about such a statement and, even if it was made, he, first of all, wants to know
the names of its authors. "In any case, this is not the position of the
Caucasus: Azeri, Armenian, Karabakh officials assess talks
Over the past 12 months, the three co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group that
seeks to mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict have warned repeatedly that
upcoming elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan could scupper chances of reaching a
Armenia is due to hold parliamentary elections in 2007. Both Armenia and
Azerbaijan will hold presidential elections in 2008.
In the run-up to those ballots, the co-chairs reason, the two countries' leaders
will be reluctant to agree on the serious mutual compromises that a settlement
will inevitably necessitate. Consequently, a sense of urgency has imbued
successive meetings this year between either the Armenian and Azerbaijani
foreign ministers or the two countries' presidents.
The meeting in Minsk on November 28 between Armenian President Robert Kocharian
and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev was thus widely perceived as the
last chance for some time to reach even a preliminary agreement. But nothing new
emerged from the meeting, which was at least conducted politely. As the former
president of Nagorno-Karabakh, Kocharian is a hawk on the issue. Ironically,
Aliyev hails from another enclave, Nakichevan. He understands the bunker
mentality of enclavists well.
EU-Armenia Action Plan New Guide for Reform in Armenia
The last 15 years were a period of state building in Armenia, Armenian
President Robert Kocharian said on November 17th, when addressing the
Bertelsmann Fund in Berlin, reported the RA leader's press office.
In his speech Kocharian specifically said, "Our accession to the Council of
Europe 5 years ago determined the structure of legislative reforms and creation
of institutes. WTO membership resulted in speeding up and increasing motivation
for transfer to liberal economy. Thinking of continuation of reforms we consider
the European Neighbourhood Policy as a new milestone. In our understanding the
Action Plan lately signed in Brussels is a new guide in reforms.
Armenia works to develop effective cooperation with the European Commission and
strengthen bilateral ties with EU member states. This will result in intensive
political dialogue, growth of trade, activation of social and public
interaction. It will enhance the level of mutual security. We count on the
support of Germany and cooperation within these new frames," he said.
For years Armenia consistently pursued a foreign policy, based on the concept of
using the advantages of coincidence of interests, not exploiting the differences
in the region. This allowed us to combine excellent relations with Russia, EU,
US and Iran. This is also an important part of transformation of our country and
society. While living in the USSR for decades, we were taught to see the world
in black and white, consisting of friends and enemies
Kocharian: 'Reforms' Most Frequently Used Word when Describing Processes in
When describing the processes occurring in Armenia since the independence
the word 'reforms' - economic, social or political - becomes the most frequently
used one, Kocharian said. "There is no field of life that has not been
subjected to serious reformation after the decline of the USSR and Armenia's
transition to democracy and market economy. We have reconstructed our
institutes, reconsidered our policy and the changed the structure of economy.
This all was new and promising. Unfortunately this process was complicated by
the war, blockade, which has not been lifted so far, and a severe energy crisis.
We responded with speeding up the rate of transformation, mobilization of
resources and raising the efficiency of administration.
"Armenia is not rich in natural resources but it's remarkable for the most
important of them- the human resource. It first of all is manifested in the
universally recognized features of our people - enterprise and diligence. Our
characteristic is the high level of people's interest in the organization of any
kind of business. In order to use these advantages we should create a favourable
atmosphere for businessmen and ensure the protection of investments. This
implies liberalization of economy and minimization of state interference in
"As result we fix serious intentions to change the structure of economy. 85
per cent of the Gross Domestic Product is produced by the private sector 40 per
cent of which consists of small and middle business. We are proud of this
figure. The middle class is in the process of formation and it has a serious
impact on the public perception of the future.
"Certainly, everything is not so smooth. We badly need to perfect the tax
and customs administration. Struggle against corruption should be strengthened
at all the levels in compliance with the action plan adopted by the government.
"We also have to develop the sector of financial services in Armenia. We
possess good potential in the form of an efficient banking system which is
constantly being modernized. Although we watch the growth of direct foreign
investments we know that there is still much to do in future. I would like to
express our sincere gratitude for technical assistance to Germany. The programme
of technical assistance and financial cooperation which is being implemented
jointly with the KFW and GTZ makes a considerable contribution," the
THE PARANOIA OF ARMENIAN POLITICS
by Richard Giragosian
Much of the recent political developments in Armenia have been dominated by two
main themes -- the ongoing mediation of the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh and the
approaching electoral cycle. Neither of these two themes represents anything new
for Armenian politics.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains locked in a seemingly endless series of
talks and meetings between Armenian and Azerbaijani officials, fuelled by an
occasional outburst of enthusiasm, only to be followed by yet another diplomatic
setback or lost opportunity. And just as predictably, a series of tactical
manoeuvres, most often obscured by the opaque and murky nature of Armenian
politics, routinely define the months leading up to elections in Armenia.
From a broader perspective, and for much of the past 15 years of Armenia's
independence, politics have been largely confined to an ever-narrowing set of
issues, with little debate and even more limited discourse. Within the
increasingly restricted political parameters, democratisation has become
disabled. This too is nothing new for Armenia.
Yet there has been an interesting shift in Armenian politics in recent weeks,
marked by a convergence between the politics of Armenian nationalism and the
paranoia of Armenian politicians.
This shift first emerged with the arrest and subsequent deportation of a
prominent veteran of the Karabakh war. The authorities charged Lebanese-born
Zhirair Sefilian, and his associate Vartan Malkasian, with plotting the violent
overthrow of the Armenian leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," December
11 and 12, 2006). The incident sparked immediate suspicion and apprehension,
with some charging a conspiracy, linking the arrest to rumours of a possible
breakthrough peace deal with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to this line of reasoning, the motivation for the arrest was driven by
the politics of nationalism, compounded by the paranoia of politicians. But this
presupposes one essential, and specific, variable -- a looming peace deal. Only
in such a case could the arrest be seen as a pre-emptive move to deflect dissent
and overcome opposition. The key question, however, remains: is there really
such a pending deal on Nagorno-Karabakh?
The more realistic understanding of the arrest lies in a broader context. It is
the broader perspective that reveals a more general paranoia of politicians,
unrelated to any sense of nationalist politics. In this way, the arrest and
deportation of Sefilian was actually preceded by a similar incident, only weeks
In early December, the Armenian authorities deported an ethnic Armenian activist
from the predominantly Armenian-populated southern Georgian region of Djavakheti
to Georgia. The activist, Vahagn Chakhalian, a leader of the United Djavakhk
organization campaigning for regional autonomy, was first arrested in October,
just hours after he, his parents, brother, and fellow activist Gurgen Shirinian
were reportedly stopped and attacked as they arrived in Yerevan (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," October 20 and December 5, 2006).
The linkage between the arrests and later deportations of both men is based on
more than tactics or techniques, however. Both cases demonstrate that it is the
paranoia of the political elite that is driving the most recent political
developments in Armenia. Both men posed a threat, not in terms of the politics
of nationalism, but more as a perceived threat to paranoid politicians.
Yet what is most ironic is the pronounced and misplaced paranoia among the
political elite. The real threat to their power comes not from anything that
these people could or would do prior to elections. The real threat stems from
the elections themselves, as the political elite still seems unable to realize
that the May 2007 and 2008 elections are the true challenges, to them and to the
country. And until the ruling elite recognizes the necessity for improved
elections, arrests and deportations will do little to ensure stability and
security in Armenia.
Armenia's Central Bank expects inflation at 5.5% to 6%
The Central Bank of Armenia is forecasting inflation at 5.5 to six per cent in
2006, Central Bank Chairman, Tigran Sarkisian, said on November 21st, Interfax
News Agency reported.
Consumer price growth will slow over the next two years, he said. The Central
Bank is expecting inflation of four per cent in 2007, although it could
fluctuate 1.5 per cent in both direction, and around three per cent in 2008. The
largest potential for inflation was accumulated in 2005 as a result of a sharp
increase in prices for fuel, granulated sugar and grain, Sarkisian said.
Inflation of around seven to 10 per cent a year is acceptable for such an
actively developing country like Armenia, Levon Barkhudarian, ex-finance
minister and CEO of Armimpexbank, said. The Armenian government increased its
inflation forecast to five per cent for 2006 from the three per cent that was
put in the budget earlier. Inflation was adjusted because of the country's high
growth rate this year. Armenia had deflation of 0.2 per cent in 2005.
Foreign investment in Armenian economy soars 57% in Q1
Foreign investment in the Armenian economy in January-September 2006 increased
31.8 per cent year-on-year to 297.4 million Euro, a source in the republic's
National Statistics Service said, Interfax news Agency reported.
Foreign direct investment in the reporting period amounted to 149 million Euro,
up eight per cent year-on-year. The communications sector received 23.7 per cent
of total foreign direct investment, the mining industry - 23.4 per cent, air
transport - 16.4 per cent, metallurgy - 7.7 per cent, and the food industry
(including drinks) - 6.9 per cent.
The leader in terms of foreign investment in the Armenian economy in
January-September this year was Argentina, which increased its investment
9.1-fold to 57.9 million Euro, including 29.4 million Euro in direct investment.
Lebanon invested 56.3 million Euro (up 110 per cent), and Greece - 44.9 million
Euro (down 34.1 per cent). Direct investment from Germany increased 18.7 per
cent to 34.6 million Euro. Investment from Russia in the reporting period
amounted to 34.4 million Euro (down 5 per cent), including 1.6 million Euro in
direct investment (down 55.8 per cent).
Armenian GDP grew 13.1 per cent year-on-year to 2.033 trillion dram in
January-October 2006, a source in the National Statistics Service said, Interfax
Construction output grew 38.8 per cent to 459 billion dram in the 10-month
period. Retail trade increased 10.3 per cent to 607.5 billion dram. Gross
agricultural output rose 0.1 per cent to 465.5 billion dram and freight turnover
was up 0.1 per cent to 1.808 billion kilometre-tonnes. Industrial output fell
0.9 per cent to 524 billion dram and electricity generation dropped 5.7 per cent
to 4.886 billion kilowatt-hours. Foreign trade turnover increased 14.3 per cent
to 1.07 billion dram in the first 10 months of 2006. Armenia's Finance and
Economy Ministry forecasts that GDP will grow 11-12 per cent in 2006, compared
to a budget target of 7.5 per cent. GDP grew 13.9 per cent in 2005.
MINERALS & METALS
Zangezur to post output of 210m Euro in 2006
Armenia's Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant will have output of 80 billion dram
or 210 million Euro this year, an Armenian Trade and Economic Development
Ministry official said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Investment in the plant's modernisation since it was privatised in 2004 amount
to 78.5 million Euro, Artur Ashugian, the ministry's official in charge of
natural resources and the mining sector, was cited as saying. Scheduled
investments for the period 2005-2008 are 157 million Euro. The plant has fully
modernised its concentrating plant in order to process more ore, Ashugian said.
He said the plant mined and processed 8.1-8.2 million tonnes of ore in 2004, but
that volumes would rise to 10-10.2 million tonnes in 2006 and 12.5 million
tonnes in 2008. The higher ore extraction should raise output at the Pure Iron
works and Armenian Molybdenum Production, which also process the Zangezur ore.
Vimpelcom to invest 100m in telecoms market in 2007
VimpelCom, which has acquired a 90 per cent stake in Armentel, a cellular
operator in Armenia, is prepared to invest some 100 million Euro in the
development of the Armenian telecommunications market in 2007, VimpelCom
representative Oleg Bliznyuk said in Yerevan on November 14th, Interfax News
VimpelCom will spend the funds on the development of both fixed-line and mobile
communications, he said. Armentel's budget is currently being approved and will
be passed after the completion of a buy-sell transaction for the 90 per cent
stake, which is being bought from Greece's Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation (OTE). VimpelCom's investment projects will be presented in more
detail after the deal is completed, he said.