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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)

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Update No: 343 - (26/10/10)

Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan to hold congress
A member of the organizing committee of the congress of Armenians of Azerbaijan, Roman Gulbandyan, said that Armenians have learned the lessons of 1915 and this time, the perpetrator of the second Armenian Genocide – Azerbaijan – will not remain unpunished.

Members of the organizing committee intend to create a committee to investigate the events of 1988-1992 and all circumstances of the Karabakh war, Gulbandyan told a press conference. “We will demand punishment of the Azerbaijani authorities and those international organizations, which participated in the Genocide,” he said, adding that a congress of Armenians of Azerbaijan is planned to be held.

Gulbandyan added that creation of a political and legal union will be in the focus of the congress. “The union will cooperate with the authorities of both Armenia and Karabakh,” he said.

New Azeri challenge
In a move that threatens to ignite a new war in the volatile South Caucasus, Azerbaijan has announced plans for another drastic increase in defence spending, which has already skyrocketed over the past decade.

The Azerbaijani government’s defence budget for next year, submitted to parliament on October 13, calls for $3.1 billion in expenditures. News reports from Baku quoted Azerbaijani Finance Minister Samir Sharifov as saying that this represents an almost 90 percent rise from this year’s spending level.

“Defence spending in 2011 will account for 19.7 percent compared with 10.7 percent in 2010, so the share of defence spending in the budget will almost double,” Sharifov said, according to AFP news agency.

This contradicted Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statements on the subject made earlier this year. Addressing Azerbaijani troops in June, Aliyev said that Baku’s military spending will total $2.15 billion this year.

“A goal was set forth several years ago for Azerbaijan’s military expenses to be above all of Armenia’s spending,” he said. “This goal has already been fulfilled.”

Armenia’s state budget for 2010 is projected at $2.6 billion. The Armenian government plans to spend a total of $2.8 billion next year. About $400 million of the sum is to be allocated to the Armenian military.

The Azerbaijani defence budget was supposed to have passed the $2 billion mark in 2008. Aliyev publicly ordered his government to ensure that in April 2008.

Over the past decade, Azerbaijan has boosted defence spending at least tenfold as part of a military build-up financed from the country’s soaring oil and gas revenues. Baku hopes that it will eventually force the Armenians to make serious concessions in the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev regularly threatens to win back Karabakh and the liberated districts surrounding it by force. According to his finance minister, about $1.4 billion of the planned 2011 spending will be used to modernize the Azerbaijani military through the purchase of up-to-date equipment and weaponry.

Armenian leaders have downplayed the widening gap between the defence budgets of the two South Caucasus arch-foes. “We counter this with the quality and combat-readiness of our armed forces,” Defence Minister Seyran Ohanian told journalists last week.

Armenia is also capitalizing on its military alliance with Russia, which enables it to acquire Russian-made weapons at cut-down prices or free of charge. A new Russian-Armenian defence agreement signed in August commits Moscow to supplying Yerevan with “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware.”

Sociologist urges peace
The Karabakh peace process reached a stalemate, because of the two conflicting parties, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Director of Sociometer centre, Aharon Adibekyan, told reporters on October 13.

According to him, Armenia should return to the initial stage of the peace process and the two conflicting parties should make mutual concessions.

“Both Yerevan and Baku should make their own concessions,” the sociologist said, stressing he does not oppose maintaining a status quo of Karabakh.

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