Saturday, 16 May 2009

Armenian News‏

Grace Annan
World Markets Research Centre
Global Insight
May 8, 2009

Talks on resolving the conflict between the Armenian and Azeri
governments regarding Nagorno-Karabakh received a fresh impetus
yesterday. The U.S. Embassy in Prague (Czech Republic) held a
high-level summit on the dispute; it was attended by Azeri President
Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan as well as senior
representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE), France, Russia and the host country. According
to Matthew Bryza, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
European and Eurasian Affairs, Aliyev and Sargsyan reduced their
divergence on basic principles for holding peace talks and accepted a
framework for doing so. The Armenian and Azeri ministers for foreign
affairs are going to turn the basic principles into a more detailed
text in the near future.

Significance:Given the stalemate between Armenia and Azerbaijan
as regards Nagorno-Karabakh, yesterday's agreement is of great
significance. According to media reports, the meeting itself was rather
cool, reflecting the cautiousness of both presidents. Both presidents
know of the importance of a deal for the region; notably for their
neighbouring country Turkey, which has close ties with Azerbaijan
and blossoming ties with Armenia. Yet, disputes about the status of
Nagorno-Karabakh are so entrenched that no solution can be expected
in the near future. Rather, the next step for mediators may be to
induce more regular meetings between Armenian and Azeri officials to
avert a worsening of the conflict.

May 8 2009

The U.S. administration plans a lower volume of financial aid to
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for the 2010 fiscal year than the 2009
level and to give more military aid to Azerbaijan than to Armenia in
2010, the country director for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh of the
Armenian Assembly of America Arpi Vartanian said on Friday.

The White House sets its planned financial assistance to Armenia in
the 2010 fiscal year at $30 million instead of the 2009 amount of
$48 million, Vartanian told reporters.

Moreover, the proposed 2010 budget does not include any section
about humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh whereas the 2009 budget
allocates $8 million for Azerbaijan's disputed Armenian-speaking
enclave, she said.

Vartanian also attacked White House plans for military aid to Armenia
and Azerbaijan in 2010. She argued that this threatened to upset the
balance of power in the South Caucasus.

The Obama administration sets its proposed military assistance
to Armenia at $3 million but that to Azerbaijan at $4 million for
that year, she said. Furthermore, $450,000 would be allocated for
military training programs for Armenia but $900,000 for such programs
for Azerbaijan.

Vartanian said the Assembly, which is a Washington-based Armenian-
American advocacy organization, would seek support from the U.S. Senate
and House of Representatives for efforts to prevent the regional
balance of power from being ruined.

RFE/RL Report
Monday, May 12, 2009
IMF Sees Deeper Recession In Armenia
Emil Danielyan

Armenia's economy will contract by 5 percent this year and will not
start growing again until 2011, the International Monetary Fund said
on Monday in a further downward revision of its economic outlook for
the country.
Senior IMF officials also reaffirmed the fund's endorsement of the
Armenian authorities' response to the global recession and, in
particular, their controversial exchange rate policy.

As recently as in early March, the IMF expected Armenia's Gross
Domestic Product to shrink by only 1.5 percent in 2009. However,
subsequent official statistics showed the economic downturn
accelerating in March and resulting in a first-quarter GDP decline of
6.1 percent.

`The projections we have for Armenia mirror those you see in the
global economy as well as in the rest of the region,' Mark Lewis,
head of an IMF mission visiting Yerevan, said as he and other
officials presented the fund's latest economic outlook for the
region. It forecasts zero growth for the Armenian economy in 2010.

Lewis singled out a sharp decline in the local construction sector as
the key factor behind the revised projections. `There was a rapid
boom in the construction sector in recent years, reflecting strong
demand for residential and commercial property,' he said. `That pace
of development in the construction sector will be difficult to
maintain this year, and that will be the key thing.'

According to the National Statistical Service (NSS) the total volume
of construction work carried out in Armenia tumbled by almost 22
percent in the first quarter of this year. The country's first-
quarter macroeconomic performance was also greatly affected by a 9.5
percent fall in industrial output. It resulted, in large measure,
from a last year's collapse in international prices of non-ferrous
metals, the number Armenian export item.

Echoing statements by other IMF officials, Lewis praised the Armenian
government and Central Bank for their `sensible and sound approach to
managing the crisis.' `We think that the authorities are doing a very
good job,' he said. He stressed at the same time the importance of
further structural reforms and, in particular, improved tax
administration for mitigating the impact of the global economic crisis.

External assistance is vital for the success of the government's anti-
crisis strategy that envisages, among other things, increased
spending on infrastructure projects and financial support for private
firms. The IMF's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, described
that strategy as `strong and credible' as he announced the impending
release of a $540 million `stand-by' loan to Yerevan on March 3.

The announcement came immediately after the authorities allowed a
nearly 20 percent devaluation of the national currency, the dram. The
Central Bam of Armenia (CBA) had injected at least $700 million worth
of hard currency in the local financial market to keep the dram's
value virtually unchanged since last fall.

Opposition politicians and economists critical of the government have
strongly criticized that as a needless waste of the country's scarce
external reserves which stood at around $1.4 billion a year ago. They
believe that the authorities should have ensured a smoother dram
depreciation instead.

But Ratna Sahay, an IMF deputy director for the Middle East and
Central Asia, dismissed the criticism. `It is a balance because if
sometimes depreciation is not warranted by fundamentals then it does
make sense for countries to prevent or smooth out the [exchange rate]
fluctuations that might happen,' she said. `And to make the right
judgment is very hard. We think that the authorities did the right
thing in stabilizing the exchange rate.'

Lewis agreed, calling the authorities' exchange rate policy
`sensible.' `It made sense to proceed in a cautious way on this front
to avoid a more destabilizing impact on the financial system,' he said.

RIA Novosti
14:17 | 11/ 05/ 2009

KOMSOMOLSK-ON-AMUR, May 11 (RIA Novosti) - The first Sukhoi Superjet
100 passenger airplane will be delivered to Armenia's national airline
Armavia, the Russian aircraft maker announced on Monday.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft's public relations director Olga Kayukova said
Armavia would be the first recipient of a Superjet 100 because it had
ordered a plane with a basic configuration. She added that the airliner
was in the final stages of assembly and would be delivered soon.

"Configuration is determined by the customer," she told
journalists. "The simpler the configuration, the simpler it is to
make the aircraft."

Kayukova said the list price of a Superjet 100 was $28 million, but
each aircraft was individually priced depending on the configuration.

She said 98 orders had been received, including 30 from Russian
flagship carrier Aeroflot and 10 from Italian companies. "Some down
payments have been received," she said.

Sukhoi's general director, Mikhail Pogosyan, admitted that financing
the construction of the planes was a problem.

"We cannot resolve this without government support," he told
journalists on Monday, adding that during the financial crisis
"airlines do not possess the necessary financial stability to invest
in the production of aircraft."

During a visit to the Superjet assembly line in Komsomolsk-on-Amur on
Monday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the Russian government had
allocated 6.8 billion rubles ($210 million) to Sukhoi Civil Aircraft
to realize the Superjet project.

"The increase in financing is connected with some rises in the price
of production and accessories," Putin told workers.

The Superjet 100 project is a family of medium-haul passenger aircraft
developed by Sukhoi in cooperation with U.S. and European aviation
corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty,
Liebherr Aerospace and Honeywell.

Armenia among the first 10 finalists in the first round of semifinals
for this year's Eurovision in Moscow on the 16th of May.

Listen and enjoy


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