Saturday, 5 November 2016


Correction to last Armenian News email:

Der Arsen is a temporary visiting priest to the UK Diocese and 
not the Pastor of St Yegiche Church as described in that email. 
The post of permanent Pastor for this church remains vacant. 

New patriarch for Armenians after row over election settled

Turkey's Armenian community is set to elect a new patriarch years after Patriarch Mesrob II lapsed into a coma, ending the deadlock in the community thriving on the reinstatement of oft-neglected rights 

The General Assembly of Armenian patriarchate based in Istanbul finally "retired" Patriarch Mesrob II who has been in a vegetative state after falling ill in 2008. The move, which comes after repeated calls from several community members, was hailed for ending the deadlock for the community mostly concentrated in Istanbul and comes at a time of relatively better treatment of the community with the reinstatement of their long-neglected rights. 

At a meeting in the last week of October, the assembly ruled that Mesrob II cannot function as patriarch and ancient laws and tradition of the church necessitate the annulment of the vows of religious leaders if they "disappear" for seven years. The assembly members said in their written statement that Patriarch Mesrob II will be "put into retirement" and declared him "patriarch emeritus." "The assembly decided to appeal to authorities for the election of a new patriarch," the statement said, in reference to the requirement of authorization by the state to elect a new patriarch. 

A patriarchal election is required to be held by the synod of bishops, and the synod has to apply to the Interior Ministry after approving the election. 

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Markar Esayan, a Turkish Armenian lawmaker for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said the assembly's verdict was "the right decision," adding that Mesrob II's illness led to a case of uncertainty in the Armenian community and his succession has long been an unresolved matter. "It posed a problem for people, especially in terms of not having an elected patriarch," he said, pointing to the democratic structure of the Armenian patriarchate, a rarity in the world. 

Esayan said the church assembly needed official confirmation on the state of Mesrob II and a report by the Forensics Institute, - the official state body that decides on the health status of individuals to see if they are eligible to hold posts like the patriarchate - helped the assembly to take the decision. He said the assembly's decision was merely "stating the obvious" as an election was what the community expected. He said the rest would be basically a red tape procedure referring to the authorization by Interior Ministry officials, highlighting that seeking permission from the state was rather an affair of security. Esayan said he expected three people to run for the office of patriarch. The community will first elect delegates who in turn, will pick a candidate for the post. 

Like other non-Muslim communities whose population dwindled over the years due to a lack of rights and oppressive state policies in the past, the Armenian community saw a reinstatement of their rights such as the return of properties once seized by the state. However, the election of a new patriarch remained a thorn in the side of the community. Patriarch Mesrob II, diagnosed with dementia, was replaced by acting patriarch Aram Ateşyan but the post was the source of discontent with dissidents within the community who called for a new election. Armenian groups even staged a rare protest for the elections this summer to protest the "made-up title of acting patriarch" and electing a new religious leader. Although its members are not exclusively religious, the post of the patriarch is highly symbolic for Armenians as a uniting figure viewed as representative of the community. 

The Armenian patriarchate was established in Istanbul after the city's conquest by the Ottoman Empire, and oversees Armenian churches throughout the country.
West intends to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh – Russian expert

Azerbaijan’s statements on accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) are no coincidence, Russian expert Stanislav Tarasov told as he commented on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statement that did not rule out Azerbaijan’s accession to the EEU. 

“Rumors about Azerbaijan’s willingness to join the EEU – but with Nagorno-Karabakh as part of it - are circulating in Moscow. Well aware it is impossible as Armenia is an EEU member as well, Azerbaijan proposes temporary Russian control over Nagorno-Karabakh and freezing the process as the West is rumored to have an intention to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence,” Mr Tarasov said. 

The West feigns interest in recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh, and Russia has received a proposal to control the situation to prevent the West from establishing control over Nagorno-Karabakh. 

“But it is crystal clear that Armenia will never cede Nagorno-Karabakh however great Azerbaijan’s desire is,” Mr Tarasov said. 

Asked if Russia would agree to establish temporary control over Nagorno-Karabakh, the expert said: 

“Azerbaijan does not see any ways out of the stalemate: it does not want the West to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh nor does it give up the idea of getting Nagorno-Karabakh back. So Azerbaijan is turning to Moscow,” Mr Tarasov said.
“But Russia’s approach to the matter is different. Russia is now equally distant from both Armenia and Azerbaijan because it is drawn into a war in the Middle East and will continue for a long period. But Russia cannot allow war on Armenia’s borders. So Moscow is pressing Azerbaijan into concessions,” he said. 

A solution to the problem is a matter of practice and time, Mr Tarasov said.

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Expects 3.2-pct Economic Growth In 2017
October 31, 2016

The Armenian government plans to ensure a 3.2-percent growth of the
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian
told lawmakers as discussions of the next year's state budget opened
at parliamentary committees on Monday.

"Given the economic environment as well as economic passivity
anticipated during the election year, significant efforts will be
required from us in order to achieve that. But we are going to do
everything to ensure that index," the head of the government said.

Karapetian described the situation in Armenia's economic as very
`complex' shortly after assuming his post as prime minister in
September. It is widely believed in Armenia that his appointment was
primarily conditioned by the need for better handling of Armenia's
economic affairs in conditions when the country's successive
governments have failed to meet economic growth targets set by
President Serzh Sarkisian. This economic underperformance has taken
place against the backdrop of allegations of widespread government
corruption and abuse.

Presenting next year's top financial document to parliament members,
Karapetian stressed that his government's fiscal policy should be
"transparent and understandable to every taxpayer and member of the

"Our approach is clear: the budget revenues provided by the taxpayers
must be used as sparingly and purposefully as possible, and the
results must be visible to the public," the premier said.

In Karapetian's words, during the past two years Armenia's economy was
characterized by such negative shocks "coming from the outside world"
as Russia's economic decline and a significant drop in global copper

"In that situation, the fiscal policy aimed at ensuring economic
growth and stability was anti-cyclic, in which case the rise of public
debt was inevitable. In 2017, the government will carry out all the
necessary steps to ensure macroeconomic stability that is a
prerequisite for ensuring growth," said the prime minister.

He added that since under the Law on State Debt his government will be
operating "under restrictions", "the 2017 budget will include an
approach of debt stabilization through a decreasing deficit."

A number of economists and opposition politicians in Armenia have
sounded an alarm in recent years about the risks that the rising level
of public debt may present to the country's economy.

Earlier this month Finance Minister Vardan Aramian admitted that
Armenia's state debt will amount to $6 billion, or over 50 percent of
its GDP, by the end of the year. He, however, downplayed concerns
about possible complications caused by this circumstance, considering
that the government plans to reduce the budget deficit in the coming

Later, the Central Bank of Armenia responded to a public statement
made by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who predicted a "real
economic disaster" in the form of a "hidden default."

In a rare statement issued in reply to a politician's remarks the
country's financial regulator emphasized that "the Republic of Armenia
has fulfilled its obligations without any obstacles and in the future
there are no looming risks connected with the country's inability to
fulfill its obligations."

Vestnik Kavkaza
Nov 2 2016
Is Armenia on the verge of default?
Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza 

The atmosphere of patient waiting, which prevailed in political and expert circles of Armenia, was disturbed by the first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan's recent statement that Armenia will face an economic catastrophe, which this time is "hidden under the euphonious name DEFAULT". The authorities' reaction was not long in coming. Some officials reminded that Armenia has never been bankrupt. The statement by the leader of the opposition party Armenian National Congress (ANC), Levon Ter-Petrosyan, has been characterized as political.

In response to Ter-Petrosyan's evaluation, the Central Bank issued a statement, according to which, Armenia continues to carry out its obligations. Also no risk of non-compliance with obligations was indicated in the future. The CB points to a number of important indicators, which show sufficient Armenia's creditworthiness - the stability of debt and currency market, the improving balance of payments, an adequate level of international reserves.

"Of course, there are financial difficulties, including in covering the budget deficit. But in any case, it is not default," the Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielyan believes.

Economists do not dispute the resource potential of the Central Bank, they can even see a policy of the budget's stabilization in the new government's approaches, however, they draw attention to the fact that the foreign debt has grown significantly in recent years. Only in 2014-2016 it increased by $900 million. It is expected that the total debt will reach $5.9 billion by the end of the year. According to the Finance Ministry, by the end of 2016 Armenia's foreign debt will increase from 43.7% to 54.4% of GDP.

According to the dean of the Faculty of International Economic Relations of the University of Economics, Atom Markarian , the debt-to-GDP ratio of 40-60% cannot but cause concern. The experts attribute the growth of the state debt to the actions of Tigran Sarkisian's government, who managed to attract large funds, thereby doubling the national debt, but it did not cause economic growth.

The problem is not only in the increase in public debt, but also in underperformance of the budget. This figure totalled 40 billion drams in the first 9 months ($1 - 475 drams), and by the end of the year it will reach 60 billion drams. Thus, there is a serious problem with the amount of funds in the budget. The Minister of Finance Vardan Aramyan recognized that the budget deficit this year will be 5%, instead of the planned 2.8%.

Former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan believes that the country is confidently heading towards default: "The state constantly takes new loans, at this rate, it won't be long before default starts - in a few years."

According to the head of the economic commission of the 'Armenian National Congress', Vahagn Khachatryan, the statement of Ter-Petrosian is a warning about a coming economic disaster, as there is no GDP growth, all the possible resources of developing and providing economic growth are exhausted or almost exhausted, and the government should find new approaches to improve the situation.

Some economists say that in addition to specific schemes and calculations relating to the reasons of default, proposed by the Central Bank, there is another reality in the country. First, the high growth rates of external debt, and second, serious problems in the issue of debt service. Today nobody offers Armenia any serious loans, there are no investment and development. Therefore, it is not clear how the country plans to service the national debt in the current critical situation. Note that in 2007, the external debt service took 2% of the budget, today this figure reached almost 10%, and in 2020 it will reach 30%.

The most important components to address the issues related to the possible default are still fighting the shadow economy and corruption, which absorb real resources for economic growth.

RFE/RL Report 
Armenian Government Plans No Rise In Salaries, Pensions In 2017
November 02, 2016
Hovannes Movsisian
No rise in salaries, pensions and social benefits is planned for next
year, Finance Minister Vartan Aramian told reporters on Wednesday.

He said the most important thing for the government now is to ensure
economic growth, which will eventually contribute to the rise in
pensions and benefits. Before that, however, the minister recommends
that people "live with hope".

"Having hope is not a bad thing. Hopeless people, desperate people are
inefficient. Generally, if society is desperate, it has fewer chances
to make progress in the future, but hope without action is also
problematic. That's why we will be taking action and, I think, our
society's hopes will be fulfilled," said Aramian.

The finance minister acknowledged the need to increase pensions and
benefits, which are generally at a low level in Armenia. An average
pensioner in Armenia, for example, receives a monthly pension
equivalent to about $85. Asked about how pensioners can live off such
a meager amount of money, Aramian said: "I don't want to feed the
public only with hopes. But it's only been one months since we got
down to work. Let's live and see."

Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Artem Asatrian, meanwhile,
believes that while pensions and social benefits will not be raised in
2017, people's living standards will still rise because natural gas
and electricity prices will be reduced.

The official referred to yesterday's application by Russian gas
monopolist Gazprom's Armenian subsidiary to the Public Services
Regulatory Commission to lower tariffs for households and businesses
by over 5 percent and provide special tariffs to socially vulnerable
groups of the population as well as some types of businesses. If
approved, lower tariffs may become effective as early as January 1.

MP Aram Manukian, of the opposition Armenian National Congress party,
believes that the government's failure to raise people's incomes next
year will result in a "demographic disaster", implying that such an
approach will only spur further outmigration of the working-age
population that opposition groups in Armenia already claim looms

"The number of pensioners will increase, but budget revenues will
fall," the oppositionist concluded.
Iran to invest in construction of wind farms in Armenia
November 2, 2016  

MAPNA Group intends to make investments in building wind farms in Armenia initially with atotal capacity of 50 megawatts.

MAPNA Group is a group of Iranian companies involved in development and execution of thermal and renewable power, oil & gas, railway transportation and other industrial projects as well as manufacturing main equipment including gas and steam turbines, electrical generator, turbine blade and vane, HRSG and conventional boilers, electric and control systems, gas compressor, locomotive and other pertinent equipment.

A delegation from Armenia's Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources Ministry visited MAPNA on the sidelines of a visit to the Islamic Republic on October 31-November 1.

Also, the Armenian delegation visited Sanir company, which is the general contractor for the construction of the third high-voltage electric line, to discuss the building process, the Ministry's press office said.

No comments: