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
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
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,
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.