FREE GEOPOLITICAL NEWSLETTER

armenia

For current reports go to EASY FINDER

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


Update No: 317 - (30/05/07)

Election Results
The Armenians have just held a vital general election. The establishment-side naturally won.

The Central Election Commission said on May 13th that five parties have been elected to parliament. According to election results, the Republican Party of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan received 33.8 per cent of the vote, Prosperous Armenia gained 15.1 percent and Dashnaktsutyun received 13.1 per cent; opposition parties Orinats Yerkir and Heritage got 7 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively. 

More than 2 million voters cast their ballots in the May 12 legislative polls, in which 21 parties and one coalition were competing for 131 seats.

The EU Gives Armenian Leaders a Boost After Disputed Election Win 
The European Union has joined Western election observers in praising the conduct of the parliamentary elections, which were controversially won by political allies of President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Sarkisian. Analysts and civil society activists say that the development will give the Armenian leaders more ammunition to dismiss allegations of vote rigging made by their demoralized opponents, local media, and civic groups. 

The May 12th elections were judged largely democratic by some 400 observers mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The OSCE-led monitoring mission also comprised parliamentarians from the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe. In a preliminary report released in Yerevan on May 13th, the mission described the vote as a significant improvement over previous Armenian elections tainted by serious fraud.

The EU welcomed the observers' findings. Germany, which currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said in a statement that the elections were "on the whole, conducted fairly, freely and largely in accordance with the international commitments which Armenia had entered into." In a separate statement, the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, congratulated "the people of Armenia on the improvements in the conduct of the parliamentary elections."

Both Germany and Solana indicated that Armenia will now be able to forge closer links with the EU under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) framework. EU officials had for months been warning that a recently negotiated set of related initiatives could be put on hold in the event of fresh electoral fraud. "This is good news for EU-Armenia relations, in particular as they were the first elections after Armenia and the EU agreed last year on a wide-reaching Action Plan," Solana said. 

The US more cautious
The United States was more cautious in praising the Armenian authorities' handling of the election. "Our judgment so far is that this election was an improvement toward international standards," read a statement issued by the US embassy in Yerevan on May 15th. The statement noted that long-term OSCE observers will continue to analyze the official vote results and might still detect more serious irregularities. "Part of the election process is a careful consideration of all issues raised in connection with the election, including several serious allegations of fraud or intimidation which may have affected the outcome of some of the races," the embassy said.

Even so, the US reaction was markedly different from Washington's strong criticism of the last Armenian parliamentary and presidential elections in 2003. Armenian observers believe Yerevan is now well placed to receive the first major instalment of $236 million in additional US economic assistance from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) programme. 

General approval by the West
"Armenia's leaders have never enjoyed such positive post-election treatment by the international community before," said Tevan Poghosian, director of the International Centre for Human Development, a Yerevan-based private think-tank. "Assuming that the OSCE's final election report will mirror their preliminary findings, Armenia's image abroad will improve considerably," agreed Levon Zurabian, an independent political scientist. "The authorities will be able to act with more confidence both in the international arena and at home." 

Indeed, Western criticisms of the past Armenian elections gave the Armenian opposition a significant argument to challenge the legitimacy of Kocharian's almost decade-long rule. The OSCE's latest election verdict will enable Kocharian and his heir apparent, Prime Minister Sarkisian, to claim the moral high ground with the opposition over election results giving three pro-government parties overwhelming control of Armenia's new parliament. Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), the official election winner, alone will control at least 65 seats in the 131-member National Assembly. Another 40 other seats will be held by two other parties loyal to President Kocharian, Prosperous Armenia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Legislative elections were widely seen as the rehearsal for next year's presidential vote, in which Prime Minister Sarkisian is expected to run. Despite the vote's positive assessment by the West, few Armenian analysts and civil society representatives consider it democratic. "There seem to have been no serious incidents in polling stations during both voting and counting of ballots, which is undoubtedly a positive phenomenon," the Yerevan daily Aravot said in an editorial. "But even to say that the elections moved a little closer to European standards would be a mockery of those standards."

At a May 14th press conference, civil society leaders echoed that frustration. "If this is an international standard, we can honestly say we don't need these international standards," commented Boris Navashardian, president of the Yerevan Press Club. "The election is not election day only," added Larisa Minasyan, executive director of the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation - Armenia. "We're talking about the whole process." [Both the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation - Armenia and EurasiaNet.org operate under the auspices of the Open Society Institute].

Virtually all major opposition parties and media critical of the government claim that the outcome of the poll was essentially decided by massive vote buying by the RPA and Prosperous Armenia. Throughout voting day there were numerous reports of busloads of presumably bribed voters transported to polling stations in Yerevan and other parts of the country. Boris Frlec, head of the ODIHR mission, said his observers also witnessed the busing. 

"Our observers have reported a number of cases where vote buying on election day could be indicated, but very difficult to prove," Frlec told journalists on May 13th. "There were groups of people who were waiting in lines, there were groups of people seen with some money and so on. But we could include in our report only things that were seen and actually proven."

In the months preceding the vote, the Armenian press had reported on the widespread collection of voters' passport data by local government officials and RPA and Prosperous Armenia activists. Representatives of the two parties also reportedly visited or telephoned households across the country to ascertain for whom they planned to vote.

Some opposition leaders now say that was aimed at clarifying the names of hundreds of thousands of Armenians who live and work abroad but remain listed in voter registries. They allege that the authorities handed out a comparable number of fake passports to bribed voters who also cast ballots in place of the absent citizens. 

"We have grounds to assert that there were mobile voting groups of people, and each member of those groups had about 10 passports bearing their pictures but [printed with] the names of other people," Nikol Pashinian, a leader of the radical Impeachment bloc, charged at a May 13th opposition rally in Yerevan. 

In response, the police promptly laughed off the allegations, questioning the opposition member's sanity. Pashinian has, in turn, called for a selective verification of official documents which voters had to sign before casting ballots. 

Top

CREDIT RATINGS

Fitch revises Armenia's outlook to positive

Fitch Ratings has revised the outlook on Armenia's Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings to Positive from Stable, and affirmed the ratings at BB- (BB minus), the ratings agency said in a press release on May 2. The agency has also affirmed the Country Ceiling at BB and the Short-term Foreign Currency rating at B, the release said, New Europe reported.
The Positive Outlook reflects expectations that disciplined macroeconomic policies and structural reforms will continue, underpinning sustainable economic growth and a declining public and external debt burden. However, the policy authorities face significant challenges in sustaining strong and balanced economic growth against the backdrop of strong upward pressures on the exchange rate, rapid expansion of private credit and construction activity, while also anchoring inflation expectations under the recently introduced direct inflation targeting regime. In addition, Armenia faces parliamentary elections in 2007 and a race for the presidency in 2008. While Fitch does not expect material changes in the country's broad economic and foreign policies to arise from the elections and a new administration, it could potentially complicate macroeconomic policy management.

Top

ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Russia, Armenia discuss economic cooperation 

Armenian President Robert Kocharian received a delegation headed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov. 
During a meeting, both sides focused on growing economic relations between the two nations, Interfax News Agency quoted the Armenian presidential press office as saying. 
Ivanov, who was Russia's defence minister until recently and viewed as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's likely successors, arrived in Yerevan just a week after Serzh Sarkisian's appointment as Armenia's prime minister. The trip was construed by local commentators as a further sign that Moscow supports his apparent plans to succeed President Robert Kocharian next year. Ivanov recalled that he shared a good personal and professional relationship with Sarkisian. "Therefore, this visit, which is the first in our new civilian capacity, does not create any problems," he said. "On the contrary, the relationship which we developed in the past few years is very useful and allows us to discuss many issues in a straightforward and frank manner." On his recent visit to Yerevan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov effectively confirmed Russian media speculation that the widely anticipated handover of power from President Robert Kocharian to Sarkisian suits the Kremlin. "The official position of Russia coincides with the unofficial position of Russia," Lavrov said. Ivannov discussed economic issues with Kocharian and Sarkisian. According to the Armenian president's office, Ivanov and Kocharian praised growing bilateral trade and Russian economic presence in Armenia. Both agreed that an Armenian-Russian partnership enlarged Russian capital presence and speeded up trade turnover growth in Armenia. Sarkisian stressed the fact that the volume of Russian-Armenian trade almost doubled last year.

Top

FOREIGN LOANS

EBRD plans to increase its loan portfolio by 67% in 2007

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is planning to increase its loan portfolio in Armenia by at least 66.6 per cent to 100 million euro in 2007 from 60 million euro in 2006, Michael Weinstein, head of the EBRD Yerevan office, told Interfax News Agency reported.
The portfolio will be increased mainly through business loans, since the bank is continuing to concentrate its activity on financing the private sector of the country's economy, he said. The EBRD is also planning this year to take part in the capital of another two to three Armenian enterprises and in at least one Armenian bank, Weinstein said. The EBRD is currently taking part in the capital of five Armenian enterprises and in Armeconombank. The EBRD has provided Armenia with around 120 million Euro to implement more than 40 programmes since 1992.

Top

INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

Industrial production increases 4.3% in Q1

Industrial production in Armenia grew 4.3 per cent year-on-year to 152.366 billion dram in the first quarter of 2007, the Armenian National Statistics Service told Interfax News Agency.
Armenian extraction enterprises produced 23.459 billion dram of products in January-March 2007, up 7.4 per cent from the first quarter of 2006. Manufacturing enterprises increased production 1.9 per cent to 92.609 billion dram in the quarter. The production and distribution of water, gas and electricity increased 10.2 per cent to 36.298 billion dram by cost in the period. Sales of industrial products totalled 151.908 billion dram in the quarter. Exports to CIS countries totalled 15.882 billion dram and to non-CIS countries - 33.241 billion dram.

Top

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

ArmenTel's sole shareholder becomes Russian VimpelCom

By acquiring 10 percent of ArmenTel shares from the Armenian government for 38.6 million Euro, Russia's leading cellular provider VimpelCom has become the Armenian company's sole shareholder, it was revealed in a press release, Interfax News Agency reported. 
In addition, VimpelCom will pay an amount representing 10 per cent of the retained net profit of ArmenTel for the period following the closure of the acquisition of 90 per cent of the ArmenTel shares and up to the closing of the acquisition of 10 per cent of the ArmenTel shares from the Armenian government, the release explained. ArmenTel is a fixed-line and mobile operator in Armenia with licences in the GSM-900 and CDMA standards. ArmenTel's subscriber base includes approximately 608,500 fixed-line subscribers and 452,000 mobile subscribers, the release said. ArmenTel revenue was 27.37 million Euro in the fourth quarter of 2006, including 10.45 million Euro from mobile services and 16.92 million Euro from fixed-line services. VimpelCom bought 90 percent of the company's shares last November from Greece's OTE for 341.9 million Euro. It also took upon itself 40 million Euro in ArmenTel debt.

« Top

 

Back

 


 
Published by 
Newnations (a not-for-profit company)
PO Box 12 Monmouth 
United Kingdom NP25 3UW 
Fax: UK +44 (0)1600 890774
enquiries@newnations.com