Sunday, 29 May 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Armenia insists in talks - Karabakh
Armenia insists on involvement of Karabakh authorities in talks

YEREVAN, May 26. Armenia insists on the involvement of
Nagorno-Karabakh authorities in the negotiations to end the
long-running conflict, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian
said Thursday in the parliament.

He said also negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the
Karabakh settlement will resume only in case of compliance with the
conditions, which were announced at the meeting of the two presidents
in Vienna on May 16.

During the May 16 meeting in Vienna, mediated by the United States,
Russia and France Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and Ilham Aliyev of
Azerbaijan agreed to work out safeguards against ceasefire violations
around Nagorno-Karabakh and resume their search for a compromise peace

"Azerbaijan has not acceded to the statement of  the OSCE Minsk Group
co-chairs on the indefinite ceasefire, creation of mechanisms to
investigate incidents and expanding the presence of representatives of
the Office of the OSCE Minsk Group," said Nalbandian.

According to him, Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers will
separately meet with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in June to
discuss the possibility of organizing another meeting of the

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted into armed clashes after the
collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s as the predominantly
Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan sought to secede from
Azerbaijan and declared its independence backed by a successful

On May 12, 1994, the Bishkek cease-fire agreement put an end to the
military operations. A truce was brokered by Russia in 1994, although
no permanent peace agreement has been signed. Since then,
Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions have been under the
control of Armenian forces of Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh is the longest-running post-Soviet era conflict and
has continued to simmer despite the relative peace of the past two
decades, with snipers causing tens of deaths a year.

On April 2, 2016, Azerbaijan launched military assaults along the
entire perimeter of its contact line with Nagorno-Karabakh. Four days
later a cease-fire was reached.
Every third resident of Armenia lives below poverty line 

– minister
YEREVAN, May 26. Armenia’s poverty rate shed 2% in 2015,
compared with the previous year, to 30%, Artem Asatryan, Armenian
labor and social affairs minister, said Thursday presenting his
ministry's 2015 performance report to the National Assembly’s

This result was achieved thanks to some social programs aimed at
poverty reduction and employment of people that are not competitive at
labor market.

Asatryan said that the sizes of benefits and pensions for servicemen
were increased in 2015, since pensioners are considered the most
vulnerable category.

The size of the average retirement pension was increased by 15% in
2015 to AMD 41,000, and payments for participants of the Great
Patriotic War (the World War II) and the Artsakh War (Karabakh War)
were increased by 50%.

The minister said that the size of the benefit for people who survived
the 2015 Genocide was increased fourfold to AMD 100,000. He also said
that 1,600 families receive AMD 30,000 as family benefit.

In his words, AMD 391 billion was allocated in 2015 for paying
pensions and social benefits.

Speaking about employment, Asatryan said that it is among the
ministry's top-priority focuses.

There are 89,000 registered job seekers in the country now – their
number grew 20%, compared with 2014.

The minister said that some 17,000 people have got jobs through
territorial employment centers. «AMD 1.2 billion was earmarked for
temporary employment programs in 2015 - some 7,000 people were
employed thanks to these programs, and AMD 102 million was allocated
for retraining programs,» he said.

The number of unemployed people booked in territorial employment
centers rose 16.4% to 76,700 in 2015.
Close to $60mn contract signed along lines of Armenia 
North-South Road Corridor

YEREVAN. – A contractor contact totaling $59,955,938.46 was signed
Wednesday at the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Armenia,
and between the ministry and Sinohydro Corporation Limited (China).

The Ministry of Transport and Communication informed Armenian that the contract is regarding the construction of the
18.7-km road of the Talin-Lanjik portion of the Talin-Gyumri Highway
construction being funded by the Asian Development Bank loan, and
within the framework of the “North-South Road Corridor Investment
Program” of Armenia.

Sinohydro Corporation Limited Vice President Liu Liuxan assured that
the work will be completed within the time specified in the
contract—i.e. by the beginning of 2018—, and in high quality.

The “North-South Road Corridor Investment Program” is a major
infrastructure project which aims at connecting the southern border of
Armenia with its northern point by means of the 556 km-long
Meghri-Yerevan- Bavra Highway. The construction of this highly
important strategic road will ensure easier traffic from the southern
border of Armenia to the Georgian border and up to Black Sea ports,
and will allow passenger and cargo transportation in accordance with
European standards. The highway will also provide serious development
opportunities for all communities from the north to the south of

Contracts have been signed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and
European Investment Bank (EIB) for the implementation of the project,
and the target completion dates are 2017 and 2019, respectively. The
estimated cost of the project is $1.5 billion, and the project is
divided into five tranches. 

Armenia ranks 4th worldwide in pirated software report
May 26, 2016 

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Business Software Alliance (BSA) published the
report Seizing Opportunity Through License Compliance, according to
which Armenia and other South Caucasus nations lead the list of
countries that useunlicensed software.

According to the report, 86% of Armenia’s software, 84% of that of
Georgia and Azerbaijan is unlicensed. Armenia has a commercial value
of $13 million, while Georgia and Azerbaijan have $25 million and $90
million-worth markets, respectively.

The situation has slightly improved in the last several years,
however, as Armenia held a 90% rate in 2009.

The worst indicators were registered in Libya and Zimbabwe (both at
90%), followed by Venezuela (88%), Yemen (87%), Armenia, Moldova and
Bangladesh (86% each), Belarus (85%), Azerbaijan, Georgia and
Indonesia (84% each).
There will remain 17-18 banks in Armenia in one year

YEREVAN, May 26. By 2017 there will remain 17 or 18 commercial
banks in Armenia that will meet the new regulatory requirement of the
Central Bank concerning total capital size, the chairman of the Union
of Banks of Armenia (UBA) Samvel Chzmachyan said Thursday at a meeting
of the International Banking Council in Yerevan.

Last year Armenia’s Central Bank decided to raise the minimum amount
of commercial banks’ total capital to 30 billion drams (about US$64
million) from the current 5 billion drams, effective from January 1,

According to the regulator, the banks established before January 1,
2017 will have to meet the new requirement- that is to have 30 billion
drams worth total capital. The measure is said to be aimed at
encouraging mergers and consolidation of banks, which is expected to
create a sound competitive environment and make banking services more

Chzmachyan noted that more than half of the banks in Armenia have
already met the revised requirement, adding that the banks that will
not be able to meet it  will have to either leave the market,  merge
with other banks or  transform into credit organizations.

In 2015, according to Chzmachyan, the authorized capital of Armenian
banks grew by 74 billion drams (about US$150 million.). He added that
major shareholders of commercial banks are expected to replenish the
capital of their banks to meet the required level.

In May 2016 ProCredit Bank was acquired fully by Inecobank. In the
same month, the Central Bank has confirmed the pre-merger agreement of
BTA Bank and Armeconombank. -0-
Last Bell: Parents, students complain about high 
“school graduation” expenses
May 26, 2016

Despite the fight carried out by different agencies against money
collection at schools, this ongoing phenomenon activates at the end of
every academic year and particularly during preparations for the
so-called Last Bell, or graduation parties, taking place in late May.

On May 27, the Last Bell will ring for around 24,500 students in
Armenia, marking the beginning of a new post-school reality for them.
Graduation expenses usually include gifts to the school principal and
teachers, laying tables during examinations for teachers, who are
involved in the process, costs for the Last Bell and graduation
events. At least 40,000 drams (about $85) are collected at schools for
the preparation of these events.

Minister of Education and Science Levon Mkrtchyan, after becoming a
minister a few months ago, sent a circular to school principals and
urged parents to modestly celebrate that day, “considering the current
situation in our country.”

While school principals on several occasions stated that they “like”
the minister’s message, however, the phenomenon of collecting money
does not seem to have been eliminated from the educational system.

The Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center recently sent a
letter to the Minister of Education, in which facts of fundraising at
schools were presented. Even the amount of money, which is collected,
is mentioned in the letter.

“We received anonymous calls from parents of students at primary
schools No. 14, 51, 82, and 174, as well as at high school No. 29. The
parents said that due to the mere fact that the 4th, 9th and 12th are
graduating classes a certain amount of money is collected to be just
given to the principal,” says Diana Ter-Stepanyan, a representative of
the anti-graft center.

While on a visit to the city of Gyumri this week, Mkrtchyan told media
that they work with Transparency International and try to verify the
authenticity of anonymous calls.

“I have spoken publicly about this several times. The problem is a
little out of school. It is more a problem of the society. Fundraising
is done by parents. We do not have any fundraising process at schools.
We must urge parents, while gathering some money, to consider the fact
that in the same class students from both high- and low-income
families are studying, and one child should not have a luxurious
celebration at the expense of the other. And if there is an instance
of fundraising which is done for school principals, we will punish
them. However, fundraising is carried out mainly for graduation
parties,” said the minister.

However, the Last Bell will be celebrated, and if the appropriate
departments have been unable to curb the Armenian traditional luxury,
the early April renewal of hostilities in Karabakh has influenced the
scenarios of traditional Last Bell events.

“Well, at the beginning we had quite a different idea, but this war
has changed [everything], and now even our [Last Bell] event is to
focus on the soldiers. Well, we’ll soon have to become a soldier, too.
Besides, we have decided not to celebrate the graduation event so
luxuriously. I still do not know: maybe we will just not do it at all.
Almost everyone has a brother at the frontline,” said one of the male
graduate students at high school No. 65 after Leo, in Yerevan’s
Shengavit community. 

Soccer: Western Armenia at FIFA Outsiders’ World Cup in Abkhazia
May 27, 2016

A team of Western Armenia is among the 12 sides that are going to
participate in the second World Cup for associations outside
international soccer’s governing body, FIFA.

The championship is scheduled to open with fanfare in the Georgian
breakaway republic of Abkhazia on May 28.

The tournament to be played under the umbrella of the Confederation of
Independent Football Associations (ConIFA) – a body representing
nations, dependencies, unrecognized states, minorities, stateless
peoples, regions, and micronations not affiliated with FIFA – brings
together teams from such internationally unrecognized or partly
recognized countries as Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, Kurdistan, Panjab,
as well as obscure territories and entities like Chagos Islands,
Padania, Raetia, Sapmi, Somaliland, Székely Land and United Koreans in

Matches in four groups of three teams will start on May 29. The
tournament in the Abkhaz capital of Sukhumi will end on June 5.

Western Armenia is included in Group A and its rivals are hosts
Abkhazia and Chagos Islands (a group of seven atolls in the Indian
Ocean south of the Maldives).

Two years ago, a team of Nagorno Karabakh participated in a similar
tournament played under the aegis of ConIFA in Ostersund, Sweden. The
Karabakhi soccer players then failed to place high in the 12-team
tournament (finishing ninth among 12 participants), but still managed
to register two signal victories – over the teams of Darfur (12-0) and
Laplanders (5-1) – in so-called Placement matches.

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