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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: 340 - (25/07/10)

Pariahs together
Armenia and Iran are ostracised by many other nations – Armenia by two of its neighbours, Azerbaijan and Turkey, in the latter by the US itself, and to a lesser extent the Europeans.

Pariahs can sympathise with each other's plight, so long as they have no visceral discord. The Armenians and the Iranians have a narrow common border, but are not enemies. They are even warily becoming on good terms, although no formal alliance is likely.

On July 19, the Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly, Hovik Abrahamyan, met with his Iranian counterpart, Ari Larijani, on the sidelines of the 3rd world conference of speakers of parliament. This is a most useful forum for international debate, a most welcome development.

The officials made a point of the memorandum on mutual understanding, signed during Larijani’s visit to Armenia in 2009. The RA NA Speaker stressed the two states have great potential for economic cooperation. To enhance the bilateral inter-parliamentary ties, Hovik Abrahamyan invited Ali Larijani to Armenia.

The sides attached significance to the cooperation within international agencies, noting at the times of regional conflicts and crises the Armenian and Iranian authorities adopted a balanced stance.

The diplomats also touched upon Armenia-Turkey normalization and the Karabakh peace process, stressing the conflicts should be solved through negotiations for regional security and stability.

Later, Abrahamyan held meetings with Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, UAE Speaker of the House of the Federal National Council. The Armenian Speaker appreciated high the UAE’s balanced foreign policy at a regional and international level. He expressed content with progress in Armenia-UAE relations and made a point of the achievements in the bilateral trade and economic ties. Abrahamyan offered to make the visits of the inter-parliamentary delegations frequent.

In his turn, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair highly assessed Armenia’s efforts to ensure regional peace and stability and reconcile relations with neighbours.

The elder statesman speaketh
This, indeed, is the nub. There is no doubt that the biggest geopolitical problems of Armenia are the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and normalization of Armenian–Azeri and Armenian-Turkish relations.

They are indispensable for Armenia’s security and sustainable development, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian said in mid-July. He is a former Armenian president and head of state.

In a warning seemingly addressed to the Armenian authorities, Armenia’s first president said that the status quo in the conflict carries the growing risk of renewed war with Azerbaijan. He also accused them of underestimating Russia’s role in the region and moving dangerously close to the West.

The remarks sharply contrasted with Ter-Petrosian’s earlier persistent allegations that President Serzh Sarkisian is ready to accept and accelerate a Karabakh settlement favouring Azerbaijan.
“Without settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Turkish-Armenian relations Armenia has no prospect of security, economic development and an improved demographic situation, regardless of who will be in power,” Ter-Petrosian declared in a speech at mid- July’s congress of the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), a former ruling party and key member of his Armenian National Congress (HAK) alliance.

He warned that “blindly seeking to preserve the status quo” only increases the likelihood of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war. “This situation can not last endlessly,” he said. “In case of the failure of diplomacy or the dragging out of the settlement process, it could get out of control, leading to new bloodshed.”

Ter-Petrosian added that Karabakh peace is also a necessary condition for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, dismissing as “nonsense” official Yerevan’s insistence that the two issues can not be interconnected. “Accordingly, if Armenia’s authorities are really interested in the success of the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement initiated by themselves, they must solve the Karabakh issue first,” he said.

The authorities say they have been doing their best to make peace with both Azerbaijan and Turkey, and Ter-Petrosian has harshly criticized their efforts for the past two years. The HAK leader, who ruled Armenia from 1990-1998, charged in August last year that Sarkisian has already agreed to “sell out” Karabakh for the sake of clinging to power.

Speaking at an HAK rally in Yerevan the following month, Ter-Petrosian rejected as pro-Azerbaijani an international plan to end the Karabakh conflict and urged Armenia’s leading political forces to thwart its realization by helping him topple Sarkisian. “Serzh Sarkisian … is opting for a solution which … is not favourable to the Armenian side and, speaking more strictly, jeopardizes the existence of Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said at the time.

Ter-Petrosian similarly blamed Sarkisian for “the prospect of a disgraceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” when he addressed thousands of supporters in the capital in March. At the next HAK rally held in April, he predicted Sarkisian’s impending downfall.

The Armenian president, he said, is now faced with a “fateful” dilemma: to accept the international mediators’ current peace proposals and face domestic backlash or reject them and put himself at odds with the international community. “In both cases, Serzh Sarkisian will undoubtedly lose power,” the ex-president claimed at the time.

Ter-Petrosian said nothing on Saturday about his take on the basic principles of Karabakh peace proposed by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. He asserted instead that unlike the United States and other Western powers, Russia has “vital interests” not only in the Karabakh conflict zone but the entire South Caucasus.

“This means that Russia holds the key to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and even Turkish-Armenian relations,” he said. “Therefore, regardless of its preferences, any Armenian government must look for solutions to these vital issues in this geopolitical context.”

“My impression is that Armenia’s authorities are not conscious of that yet, whereas Turkey and Azerbaijan are assessing the reality more correctly, as evidenced by their recent active contacts with Russia,” he added.

Ter-Petrosian had likewise strongly advocated a compromise deal with Azerbaijan and described it as vital for Armenia’s future during the final months of his presidency. He resigned under pressure from the key members of his government, including then Interior Minister Serzh Sarkisian, in February 1998.

Ter-Petrosian’s latest statements were criticized on July 20 both by Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and major opposition parties not aligned in the HAK. “We don’t think it right to link everything with Karabakh,” Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of the HHK, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Stepan Safarian of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) denounced the HAK leader’s views as “unacceptable and dangerous.” “Unfortunately, there was such an open message [in his speech,]” Safarian told RFE/RL. “The prerequisite for our development is the establishment of fair rules of the game for all us.”

“This is an absolutely defeatist position vis-à-vis not only the Turks and the Azerbaijanis but also the Armenian authorities,” scoffed Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation. “And this is the leader of the radical opposition who was supposed to sweep to power and win over the people with his radicalism.”

Hovannisian, whose partly had also been in opposition to the Ter-Petrosian government, further rejected the ex-president’s pro-Russian comments. “This runs counter to our national interests and prospects for our national development,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.


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