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ARMENIA


  
  



In-depth Business Intelligence

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

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
29,800

Population
2,991,360

Principal ethnic groups
Armenian 93.3%
Azeri 2.6%
Russian 2%

Capital
Yerevan

Currency
Dram

President
Robert Kocharian


 


Update No: 303 - (27/03/06)

War is looming
Everything is pointing towards a renewal of the deadly Armenian-Azeri conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Both countries have hardliners in charge. President Robert Kocharian is himself a former president the warlord of the Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, while his counterpart in Baku hails from Nakhichevan, the Azeri enclave between Armenia and Iran. 
Enclavists are the most rebarbative of folk usually; neither of them being an exception to this grim rule. 
What is tilting the scales towards war is the oil boom that Azerbaijan is enjoying. Aliyev is determined to use its fruits to rearm and amass a mighty military. He has just re-introduced conscription. He boasts that the Azeri military budget will soon be larger than Armenia's entire budget (see Azerbaijan).
He is forgetting one small point here. It will never equal the size of Russia's military budget; and he should reckon that Moscow would definitely intervene on Armenia's behalf if it looked as if it might lose any future war. Not that this is very likely. The Armenians are great fighters. It is not just numbers that count in warfare. Morale and military skills are all-important too. 
Actually, the Russians are very likely to give assistance to the Armenians from the outset, not excepting actual personnel. Aliyev should take note of the Abhkaz-Georgian imbroglio, if he thinks otherwise.

Armenia will recognize Karabakh if talks hit dead-end - Kocharian
Confidence in the backing of Russia doubtless lies behind Yerevan's new tough stance. Armenia will de jure recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh if negotiations with Azerbaijan on a settlement of their conflict over the predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan reach a deadlock, Armenian President Robert Kocharian told journalists on March 2nd. 
"Armenia should be prepared that the talks may reach an impasse, although chances to make progress still remain," he said. "However, if Azerbaijan firmly states that time is working for Azerbaijan and tries to resolve the Karabakh issue by bolstering the army and using force, Armenia will take the following steps: first and foremost, it will de jure recognize the independence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh," the president said. 
The second step would be "a set of agreements and laws that would allow Armenia to ensure the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. I am speaking about signing a wide variety of treaties that would view any attack on Nagorno-Karabakh as an attack on Armenia," Kocharian said. The third step would be the creation of a so-called 'security belt', he said.

Aliyev Prefers Waiting for More Acceptable Outcome in Karabakh Issue
It is a fact that the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, thinks that time is on the Azeri side. 
"At present, we have two options to solve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict: either we agree to a treaty or proposal that does not satisfy us now, or we reach a result more suitable for Azerbaijan after a while. I am for the second option," said Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan in his interview with Turkish NTV channel. 
Speaking of progress in Azerbaijan in last two years, Aliyev said that the Azeri budget now exceeds that of Armenia four times, and the economic and military development will strengthen the position of Azerbaijan in the talks. We have already commented upon this hollow posturing. 

Armenia closer to US
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Bryza, praised Armenia's efforts to forge closer defence links with the United States and discussed ways of boosting its "energy security" during a visit to Yerevan on March 7th. 
"The reason I am here is that I want to do everything I possibly can to strengthen the already strong collaboration between the United States and Armenia," Bryza told reporters after holding "very constructive" talks with President Robert Kocharian and other Armenian leaders. 
"We are working hard together to help Armenia to realize its desire to have stronger relations with the Euro-Atlantic family. We are pleased with the considerable progress made in this regard over past year," he said, singling out the signing of Yerevan's "individual partnership action plan" with NATO. 
Bryza added that it is up to the Armenian leadership, which continues to regard the military alliance with Russia as the bedrock of its national security doctrine, to decide how far it wants to go in deepening military cooperation with the West. "I don't think that the government of Armenia can move at a pace that for us is too quick," he said. "But we are very happy with the level of cooperation. This has been a significant year for US-Armenian security cooperation." 
The issue was high on the agenda of his separate meetings with Kocharian, Defence Minister, Serzh Sarkisian, and Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian. The US official also had what he described as a "very detailed and interesting discussion on energy security" with Energy Minister, Armen Movsisian, and Armenian energy sector experts. 
"The key to energy security for Armenia, as for any country, is diversity. Armenia has a long and positive experience working with Russian gas suppliers and that needs to continue," he said. 
Bryza went on to indicate that Washington is ready to help the landlocked country reduce its heavy dependence on Russian energy resources. But he stopped short of endorsing the Armenian government's decision to build a gas pipeline from Iran, the US arch-rival in the region. "The United States, like the entire international community, is not in favour of any steps that will lead to significant expansion of Iran's ability to project economic or any other type of power," he said. 
Bryza argued in that regard that diversification of Armenia's energy resource supplies relates to "not just natural gas but other types of energy as well, which is hydro power, geothermal power as well as potentially a new generation of nuclear power." 
The remark suggests that the US does not object to the Armenian government's extremely ambitious plans to build a new nuclear power station in place of the Metsamor plant, which is due to be decommissioned by 2016. Movsisian and other Armenian energy officials admitted recently that they will need at least US$1 billion in foreign investments to put the project into practice. 
Also, Bryza pointedly avoided any criticism of the Kocharian administration's democracy and human rights record, speaking instead of the need for ordinary Armenians to develop a "culture of democracy" and urging the Armenian opposition to operate "constructively." 
"We hope over the next few months and years to use all of our assistance levers to build democracy not only from the top down but most importantly from the bottom up," Bryza said, adding that the US considers Armenia to be a "democratizing country." 
The Bush administration approved recently US$235.6 million in additional economic assistance to Armenian under its Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program, saying that the Armenian authorities have addressed US concerns about their commitment to democracy and good governance, which was unconvincing. Power politics clearly outrank the founding principles of the millennium challenge Account. That commitment was most recently called into question by their handling of last November's disputed constitutional referendum. 
Bryza further declined to confirm or refute reports that the US ambassador in Yerevan, John Evans, will be recalled soon over his public recognition last year of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. The Bush administration and the State Department distanced themselves from Evans's remarks at the time, insisting that they did not signal any change in US policy on the issue. 
"He, like all of us, serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States," Bryza said, sitting next to Evans. "It's up to the president to make his own decisions, including on personnel." 
"The fact of the matter is that I do not know when I will be leaving Armenia and I have not submitted my retirement papers," Evans said for his part.

New conference on the Armeian genocide of 1915
Istanbul University on Friday, 10 March began hosting a three-day international conference that aimed to bring a new approach to discussions of the so-called Armenian genocide and its affects on Turkish-Armenian relations.
In his opening speech, Istanbul University Rector Mesut Parlak urged all concerned sides to analyse the problem, which centres on disputed events of 1915, without concentrating on only a single event. "Besides the political aspects of the events of 1915, historical, legal, social, psychological and philosophical elements should be determined. The importance of this conference is that the participants will analyse the different aspects of the Armenian 'genocide'," he said. 
Parlak described genocide as a crime against humanity and said, "Such a serious accusation must have a legal basis. The international law defining genocide was adopted in 1948, and does not cover past incidents. Therefore, it is impossible and illegal to characterize the 1915 incidents as genocide." 
In a message sent to the conference, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stressed that Turkey is at peace with its past, saying, "We have no page in our history to be ashamed of."
Noting that many conferences and symposiums have been held in Turkey recently on the Armenian allegations, Gul said, "There has been an increase in the amount of scientific research, articles and books published about the last period of the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian genocide claims. Thanks to studies into the question, we have the opportunity to see the facts and to have the voice of the truth heard against biased publications by the Armenian diaspora." 
"Furthermore, we bequeath detailed data to following generations about a period of Turkish history. I would like to emphasize that the number of impartial publications in the US and Europe on this issue is increasing. Serious steps are being taken to make public the facts," Gul said in the message. 
Gul reiterated that archives from the Ottoman and Republican period were open to all researchers for investigation and urged the Armenians to open their archives to shed light on the period of history in question. "Last year we proposed the Armenian government form a joint commission composed of historians to examine controversial episodes in Turkish-Armenian relations. However, we haven't yet received a positive response from the Armenians," he added.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Bulgaria to deepen transport cooperation with Armenia 


On the second day of its official visit to Armenia, a Bulgarian parliamentary delegation, headed by National Assembly Chairman, Georgi Pirinski, met with Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, and speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Artur Baghdasaryan, in Yerevan, the National Assembly press office said, Sofia News Agency.
The sides discussed the intensive political dialogue between the two countries, the development and strengthening of transport ties and cooperation in education and culture. Pirinski proposed to organise a conference on coperation in transport in mid-2006. For his part, Baghdasaryan said that Armenia needs deeper transport co-operation with Bulgaria as it will facilitate the development of economic contacts. In this context, Baghdasaryan proposed holding discussions with the participation of two countries' parliamentarians in the summer.

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MINERALS & METALS

Copper-molybdenum plant to invest 240m Euro 

A government commission has approved an investment programme worth 240 million Euro at the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant for the period 2005-2020, the Armenian trade and economic development ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported. 
Investment in the programme's first phase to 2008 will be 157 million Euro and will be targeted at developing the open pit (40 million Euro), the concentrating plant (73 million Euro), the tailings dump (13 million Euro), communications and buildings (24 million Euro) and environmental protection (seven million Euro). Zangezur should absorb 47 million Euro of the investment in 2006, 63 million Euro in 2007 and 27 million Euro in 2008. Investment was 20 million Euro in 2005.

Mining sector ups output 13% in 2005 

Armenia's mining sector boosted output 13 per cent in constant prices in 2005 to 235.096 billion dram (514.4 million Euro), the trade and economic development ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Sales rose 43.1 per cent to 232.386 billion dram and exports were up 18.8 per cent to 144.51 billion dram. The sector has 17 enterprises with a total of 8,244 employees. The biggest are the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant, Pure Iron Works, Armenian Molybdenum Production and Armenian Copper Programme. The ministry said CJSC Armenian Copper Programme (ACP) increased blister copper production in value 1.1 per cent to 21.31 billion dram in 2005.

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TOURISM

Armenia posts new tourist record

Armenia's tourist sector increased last year with the number of foreign visitors up by 21 per cent to over 318,000, Deputy Minister of Trade and Economic Development, Ara Petrosian, said. The figures represent a new post-Soviet record for the small south Caucasus country. Petrosian said that foreign nationals of Armenian descent especially from Western Europe and the United States, continue to make up the overwhelming majority of the visitors, New Europe reported.
The Armenian government has declared development of tourism a high economic priority. "The average length of a tourist visit to Armenia is five to six days and a typical tourist spends between 800 Euro and 1,000 Euro, including the cost of air tickets, during that time," Petrosian noted. The government officials and travel agents agree that the sum fails to make Armenia attractive for budget travellers and hampers a more rapid growth of its tourism sector. Armenian travel costs have hardly decreased in recent years despite the emergence of new hotels and more frequent flights between Europe and Armenia.

 

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