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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


Update No: 314 - (22/02/07)

There is a possibility of an extraordinary development in world politics that would be most welcome if it happened. It could even form a model for the resolution of the gravest contretemps of all, that between Israel and its enemies.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are led by youngish men who are still looking to the future to redeem them. What could be a greater achievement, securing them co-awardship of the Nobel Peace Prize than a deal on Nagorno-Kharabakh. 

Armenia, Azerbaijan 'Very Close' To Peace Deal
Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Robert Kocharian were already widely expected to reach a framework agreement on Karabakh early last year. But two rounds of face-to-face negotiations between them collapsed due to last-minute disagreements. 
But a 'stand-off' can mean a 'shake-down.'
Azerbaijan are "very close" to hammering out an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh before their presidential elections, due next year, Washington's chief Karabakh negotiator told RFE/RL on February 7th.
"They don't agree 100 per cent on the basic principles [of a peaceful settlement,] but they are close, very close," said Matthew Bryza, a deputy assistant secretary of state and the US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. "They agree on the philosophy of the basic principles and most of the basic principles themselves."
Those principles are laid down in the Minsk Group's most recent peace plan. It calls for a gradual resolution of the Karabakh conflict that would lead to a referendum of self-determination in the disputed territory after the liberation of Armenian-controlled territories in Azerbaijan proper.
Bryza noted that although the parties have yet to agree on "a lot of technical issues that are really outstanding," they may cut a long-awaited peace deal during the period between the May parliamentary elections in Armenia and the 2008 presidential elections due in both South Caucasus states.
"I think there is going to be a bit of a timeout in terms of the [Armenian and Azerbaijani] presidents' diplomacy now, with the parliamentary elections in Armenia," he said in a phone interview from Baku. "But I think all the other diplomacy can continue, and I think after the elections there is a strong possibility that the presidents will reinvigorate their negotiations."
In a joint statement that followed their late January visit to the conflict zone, Bryza and the two other Minsk Group co-chairs urged the two leaders to "prepare their publics for the necessary compromises."
No meeting between the two leaders, however, is likely before elections in May are out of the way. The Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents are unlikely to meet before the parliamentary elections in Armenia, OSCE Minsk Group Russian co-chair Yuri Merzlyakov said when commenting on the possibility to activate the process of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict after the Armenian parliamentary election, PanARMENIAN.Net reported.
"I think such statement are conditioned by the fact that it will be hardly possible to organize a presidential meeting before the parliamentary election. No agreement can be achieved without the Presidents' consent, I suppose," Yuri Merzlyakov said, reports Trend.

Coming elections to parliament
The government is a great believer in 'managed' democracy. Armenia's two leading opposition groups blamed the authorities on February 9th for what they see as disproportionately high prices of election campaign advertisements that have been set by the local broadcasters loyal to President Robert Kocharian. 
Under Armenian law, every party or alliance running for parliament can air up to 60 minutes of free-of-charge ads on state television and 120 minutes on state radio during campaigning for the May 12 parliamentary elections. The Armenian Public Television and Radio is allowed to charge them for every minute of extra air. 
Its H1 TV channel's per-minute fee for campaign ads has already been set at 80,000 drams (US$220), up from US$120 it charged in the run-up to the previous legislative polls. Most of the private networks will charge even more, despite boasting smaller audiences and being less accessible than H1. Their fees start from 100,000 drams (US$280) per minute and are much higher than the cost of televised business advertising that can be as low as 15,000 drams per minute. 
Leaders of the opposition Artarutyun (Justice) alliance and the National Unity Party claimed that the huge difference is the result of a deliberate government effort to keep the airwaves off limits for Kocharian's cash-strapped opponents. "They are trying to make sure that only those who have made fortunes by illegal means can have access to TV air," charged Artarutyun's Grigor Harutiunian. 
"Even making 10 drams requires a lot of suffering in Armenia," complained Artashes Geghamian, the AMK leader. "So imagine how much unearned revenue you must have to spend 80,000 drams on communicating with your people for a single minute." 
"This shows just how terrified the regime is by the opposition discourse," he said. 
The Armenian opposition's campaign expenditures have always paled in comparison with those of the main pro-Kocharian parties. The largest of them, the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), has many wealthy individuals among its senior members and has never lacked cash. Also boasting vast financial resources is the Prosperous Armenia Party of tycoon Gagik Tsarukian. In addition, Prosperous Armenia as well as another pro-Kocharian party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), each control a TV station. 
Dashnaktsutyun's parliamentary leader, Hrayr Karapetian, claimed that money should not be a problem for the opposition heavyweights if they indeed have a large following. "I think that those parties that enjoy popularity will also be able to receive large donations to their campaign budgets," he said. 
Karapetian's Republican opposite number, Galust Sahakian, said that instead of complaining, the opposition leaders make more campaign trips and meet as many voters as possible. "That won't cost them much," he said. 
Sahakian also made the point that those who lack money should not engage in politics in the first place. "If you have good ideas, but no political or financial capital, you'd better write books instead," he said.

Washington Wants Railway Connecting Turkey With Azerbaijan To Run Through Armenia
"We have always backed all projects which are designed to boost transport links between neighbour countries and we have been trying to develop projects aimed at linking the West and East and certainly we would like that a railway that is supposed to connect Turkey with Azerbaijan runs through Armenia," a senior US diplomat was quoted as saying by Azerbaijani Press Agency (APA).
The diplomat, Mathew Bryza, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and a US co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, said the US administration cannot block the construction of a railway that Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan want to build, but added that the US hopes that in near future a transportation scheme that will include all the countries of the region will emerge. 
Last December US President George W. Bush signed into law a resolution imposing a ban on US financing of a proposed railroad that would bypass Armenia. The proposed new Caucasus rail line - at the urging of Turkey and Azerbaijan - would circumvent Armenia. 
Promoters of the project have sought, even at the planning stages, to secure US financing for this undertaking, prompting Congressional friends of Armenia to pre-emptively block such attempts. 
In October of 2005, the European Commission voiced official opposition to the proposed Caucasus railroad bypass of Armenia. A formal statement by the Commission's Directorate General for Transport and Energy noted that its construction was both unnecessary and inefficient in light of the existing railroad connecting Kars, Gyumri of Armenia and Tbilisi.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Syria, Armenia sign 3 agreements 

On January 21st, Syrian Chairman of Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, Mohmmed Saleh al-Mallah, signed three agreements with Armenian Chairman of Industry and Trade Chamber, Martin Sarkisean, for the economic and trade cooperation within the framework of boosting bilateral cooperation and solving problems and obstacles that hinder its development, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The agreement will also help to establish a joint business council between both countries' businessmen. 
The head of the International Exhibitions Committee at Aleppo Chamber of Commerce and the Armenian Executive Director of Industry and Trade Chamber signed a memo of understanding on organising fairs in both countries. The three agreements were signed during a visit paid by a delegation representing Aleppo Chamber of Commerce to Armenia.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Yerevan, Baku discuss Karabakh settlement

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has discussed prospects in talks on the settlement in Nagorno Karabakh with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Vardan Oskanian, and Elmar Mamedyarov, Interfax News Agency reported. 
Oskanian and Mamedyarov held consultations on the settlement, in the attendance of international mediators - co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group. Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, represented the Russian side at the meeting.
An earlier report said that Moscow would host the talks between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Karabakh conflict and that it would be the first meeting at such a level in 2007. The next meeting between the presidents of the two countries on a peaceful settlement of the problem hinges on the results of the talks between the foreign ministers. 
Diplomatic sources told Interfax that the talks ended, but that the results were not disclosed. Mamedyarov will be leaving for Baku soon. 
"The present state and prospects in the negotiating process on Nagorno Karabakh were discussed during the meeting," the report says. On January 23rd, Azerbaijan and Armenia came to an agreement to resume negotiations in seeking to settle their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a Moscow diplomatic source said, citing "intensive and difficult" talks in Moscow between the two countries' foreign ministers. 

Russian investment in economy increases

Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, arrived in Sochi to hold negotiations with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, at the Russian presidential residence, Bocharov Ruchei. Russian-Armenian relations, "following some complications after Russia increased gas prices, have been stabilising," Russian presidential aide, Sergei Prikhodko, said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Relations between the two countries improved after experts started looking for new promising areas of cooperation, he said. The matter involves cooperation in the nuclear energy sector, including Russia's participation in the follow-up exploration of uranium fields in Armenia, joint activity in the oil processing sector, Russia's involvement in the modernization of industrial enterprises in Armenia, and the construction of new railways, Prikhodko said. Russian investment in the Armenian economy has grown significantly of late, he said. Efforts made by three Russian companies - Gazprom, RusAl and VimpelCom - have helped nearly double the amount of accumulated investment in Armenia, Putin said after talks with Kocharian. The energy sector, engineering and communications remain "the locomotive" of Russian-Armenian cooperation, he said. Interesting projects have been proposed by the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Russian Railways and similar entities in Armenia, Putin said. The negotiations with Kocharian gave detailed consideration to prospects for broadening trade and business relations between the two countries and for implementing previously reached agreements, he said. "On the whole, we are satisfied with the steady pace of growth of our trade turnover in recent years. It grew by 40 per cent in 2005, whereas it went up by nearly 70 per cent over the first eleven months of 2006," Putin said. Last year's bilateral trade may reach some 500 million Euro, he said. Over the past few years, Russia and Armenia "have scored considerable successes in all areas of bilateral relations, which are currently developing on the sound basis of their strategic partnership," the president said.

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MINERALS & METALS

AMP boosts ferromolybdenum output 35% in 2006

Armenian Molybdenum Production (AMP) produced 2,100 tonnes of ferromolybdenum in 2006, 35.2 per cent more than in 2005, a source at the company said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Production in current prices fell, by 11.4 per cent to 27.247 billion dram as world molybdenum prices fell and the US dollar weakened. AMP exported all of its output to non-CIS countries. AMP said ferromolybdenum prices had stabilized in recent months and that higher energy prices in Armenia would not have a major impact on the company's overall performance. AMP bought all its molybdenum concentrate from Armenian producers. The company processed around 3,000 tonnes of concentrate in 2006 AMP, which was set up in 2003, began operating steadily in 2004. Capacity is 4,000 tonnes of ferromolybdenum per year. AMP's main supplier of raw material is the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant.

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