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ARMENIA


  
  



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: 307 - (27/07/06)

It is a great mistake for the world to ignore future conflicts. The huge irony is that potential aggressors, for whatever reason, usually declare their hand beforehand and are then ignored. One just has to think of Hitler. He made it as plain as day what he intended - but nobody believed him, bar Churchill and a few prescient people.
The case is rather different for the Armenians today. They know very well that they have enemies among their neighbours, notably Azerbaijan. The following report is no surprise to them.

Azerbaijan's Aliyev Says Karabakh Talks 'Hopeless'
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has described the efforts of international mediators to resolve Azerbaijan's dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh as "hopeless," RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service has reported. 
Aliyev made the comment during a graduation ceremony of cadets in Baku at Azerbaijan's supreme military academy. He said Azerbaijan was ready only to negotiate the restoration of its sovereignty over the disputed Armenian-majority enclave. 
The failure of international mediation, the Azerbaijani leader said, was forcing him to change policy. He said Azerbaijan would retake Nagorno-Karabakh by whatever means it takes. 
Aliyev warned Armenia that he would use Azerbaijan's rapidly expanding oil wealth to strengthen the armed forces.
This is rather obviously a moment when Western leaders should take note - but will they? It should be remembered that Russia has long represented itself as Armenia's protector.

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Armenian DM Discusses Presidential Ambitions 
Armenia's defence minister says he has given no "serious" thought to seeking the presidential post in 2008 when current President Robert Kocharian completes his second term. In an interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Serzh Sarkisian said it was too early to decide whether to run: 
"It's very difficult to say [if I will run], because I've never given it serious thought," he said. "You may not believe me, but I am speaking sincerely. I will make my decision after the parliamentary elections are held [in May 2007]. All I can say is that I've never striven for any position. All of my friends know this." 
Sarkisian recently became an official member of Armenia's Republican Party, the leading party in the country's governing coalition.
Opposition leaders have called for Sarkisian to resign if he intends to seek an elected office. Sarkisian says for now he has no intention of resigning. 
This is likely to be why Sarkisian is playing his cards so close to his chest. He wants to go on being defence minister, the key post after the presidency in Armenia. He certainly remains a front-runner for the succession, along with the premier. Military expertise is as valued in Armenia as in Israel, a country even more embattled than itself. Kocharian, as the former president and warlord of Nagorno-Karabakh, is the Sharon of Armenian politics.

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The following article by Armenians on the spot gives an informed interpretation of the disavowal by Sarkisian:-


'Kocharian approves alliance with ruling party'
By Hrach Melkumian, Armen Dulian and Ruzanna Khachatrian
Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on July 20 that President Robert Kocharian does not object to his far-reaching alliance with Armenia's largest governing party and claimed to have not yet decided whether to run for president in 2008. 
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, he also endorsed a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favoured by international mediators. 
Asked whether he thinks he could be sacked by Kocharian for joining the Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Sarkisian replied: "How can I rule out the possibility of the president dismissing me when he is the supreme commander-in-chief [of the armed forces] and can do that with a single signature?" 
"But I rule out his doing so in connection with my affiliation with the HHK because the president of the republic has fully approved my intention," he said. "I think there will be an occasion for him or his spokesman to speak about this.
Besides, what is the use of taking steps contradicting the opinion of the supreme commander-in-chief?" 
Many Armenian politicians, analysts and media commentators are convinced that Sarkisian's decision align himself with the HHK does not sit well with Kocharian who is widely expected to resign after completing his second term in office in early 2008. They say the recent creation of an extremely ambitious party by an influential tycoon close to Kocharian is part of his efforts to contain the HHK and secure his own political future. They also claim that Kocharian does not necessarily back Sarkisian's reputed presidential ambitions, despite having closely cooperated with the powerful defence minister for nearly two decades. 
Sarkisian insisted, however, that he is still not sure he wants to be Armenia's next president. "It's hard to tell. Really hard," he said. "Probably because I haven't seriously thought about that. I am being frank, believe it or not." 
Speaking to RFE/RL on July 19, Markarian was likewise vague about Sarkisian's presidential ambitions and stopped short of ruling out his own participation in the 2008 presidential ballot. "We will see in 2008," he said. 
Markarian also described as "logical" Sarkisian's decision to join his party. "He felt that he likes the party's ideology and program," said the Armenian premier. "Besides, we have closely cooperated during all these years and are simply formalizing this fact." 
Sarkisian has repeatedly made it clear that the HHK's strong showing in next year's parliamentary elections is a necessary condition for his presidential run. This is construed by opposition leaders and other government critics as a sign that the Republicans will seek to win a parliament majority in the next National Assembly at any cost. 
They boast the largest faction in the current National Assembly, controlling at least 41 of its 131 seats. Sarkisian implied on Thursday that the HHK should be happy to have as many seats in the next Armenian parliament. 
"I haven't yet discussed this topic with members and leaders of the Republican Party," he said when asked how many parliament seats it is looking to win. "But I have decided for myself that if the Republicans win up to 21-22 per cent of the vote in the elections, I will consider that satisfactory; [if they get] up to 25 per cent, [I will consider that] good; [if they get] more than that [I will consider that] excellent." 
Sarkisian further agreed with the Armenian government's overall acceptance of the most recent international plan to resolve the Karabakh conflict which calls for the holding of a referendum on Karabakh's status after the liberation of Azerbaijani territories surrounding the disputed region. "Yes, I am in favour of the proposed principles. How can I be against something which I have said for years?" 
The former wartime commander of Karabakh Armenian forces seemed to be undaunted by possible popular opposition this peace plan. "If the public has a different opinion, another political force will win a majority and pursue its policy, and that would be very good," he said. "How can I oppose something which is to our people's liking?"

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ENERGY

Greg Realty to prepare 4th power line 


The US company Greg Realty has won a tender to prepare a project for the construction of a fourth power line between Armenia and Georgia, Levon Vardanian, director of the development and PR department at the Armenian Energy Ministry, said, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said the Georgian Energy Ministry called for the tender. The project work, which will be financed by the Georgian side, should be completed by the end of 2006. The 400 kilovolt line will be the only power line capable of ensuring the parallel work of the energy systems of both countries. Vardanian said the cost of the project and sources of financing are still under discussion. Initially it was planned to complete construction by the end of 2006, but work on the project has dragged on, he said. Armenia and Georgia are currently connected by three power lines: two 110 kilo-volts and one 220 kilo-volts. Armenian Energy Minister, Armen Movsisian, said earlier that after the construction of the fourth line the capacity between the two countries would amount to 650 megawatts. 

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Kocharian visits Iran to boost relations 

Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, recently flew to Tehran to boost and deepen Armenia's close economic and political ties with Iran, reported Interfax News Agency reported.
Kocharian held negotiations with Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other senior Iranian officials. Kocharian signed a number of unspecified "bilateral agreements." Kocharian's spokesman, Victor Soghomonian, refused to give the details but quickly added that the Armenian leader discussed a "broad range of issues" in Tehran. The presence of Armenian Energy Minister, Armen Movsisian, in Tehran suggests that growing Armenian-Iranian cooperation in the energy sector was high on the agenda. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Movsisian met with Iran's Oil Minister, Vaziri Hamaneh, and Energy Minister, Parviz Fattah, to discuss multimillion-dollar Armenian-Iranian energy projects, notably the ongoing construction of a pipeline which is due to start pumping Iranian natural gas to Armenia next year. Yerevan and Tehran are expected to sign an agreement to build a third high-voltage transmission line that will connect the power grids of the two neighbouring countries. The 80 million Euro project will be financed by a state-run Iranian bank. The Iranian government has already provided a separate 35 million Euro loan to finance the ongoing construction of Russia's state-run gas monopoly, Gazprom. The Russian oil giant announced plans to buy the Armenian section of the pipeline which was supposed to ease Armenia's strong dependence on Russian energy resources.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Four bidders for telecommunications stake 

Greek Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) owns 90 per cent stake in Armenian telco ArmenTel. OTE announced that four firms were selected from 10 non-binding bids to participate in the next phase of the sale of the monopoly operator. OTE said the final four were Russia's Ao Vimpelcom and Mobile Tele Systems along with consortiums including VTEL Holdings and Knightsbridge Associates, and Emirates Telecommunications, Emergent Telecom Ventures and Istithmar PJSC. The Armenian government will retain 10 per cent of ArmenTel which serves a fraction of Armenia's population despite its monopoly in wireless and fixed-line phone services, Interfax News Agency reported.

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