Saturday, 14 April 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... Sarkisian's role in Government

FE/RL Report
Sarkisian Sees Key Government Role For Himself, Karapetian
April 07, 2018
Emil Danielyan

Two days before completing his second term in office, President Serzh Sarkisian 
made clear on Saturday he and the outgoing Prime Minister Karen Karapetian will 
bear "the burden of responsibility” for Armenia’s government for the next four 

Meeting with Karapetian in the presidential palace, Sarkisian gave further 
indications that he will take over as Armenia’s prime minister later this month 
and thus remain the country’s most powerful man. He said he also envisages a 
key government role for Karapetian, praising the latter’s 18-month track record.

“Taking this opportunity, I want to thank you for the good job and friendship 
and want you to pass on my thanks to the members of the government,” Sarkisian 
said in televised remarks.

“We have worked together very well in this period but must also bear in mind 
that our party won a popular vote of confidence in the [April 2017] 
parliamentary elections and that the Republican Party (HHK) has a mandate to 
form a government until 2022,” he went on. “And that means the burden of 
responsibility for the country’s development will be on the Republican Party 
and us in the first instance: me, as the party’s chairman, and you, as the 
party’s first deputy chairman.

“Obviously, members of the party’s executive body, council and territorial 
chapters will bear responsibility, but I am talking here about personal 
responsibility. And we are certainly obliged to stay the course.”

“So we still have a lot to do,” he said, implying that the HHK leadership will 
formally nominate its candidate for prime minister next week.

The ruling party, which has a comfortable majority in the parliament, is widely 
expected to install Sarkisian as prime minister on April 17. Karapetian, for 
his part, is tipped to become first deputy prime minister chiefly responsible 
for the Armenian government’s economic policies.

Karapetian and all members of his cabinet will tender their resignations 
immediately after Armen Sarkissian, a businessman, and diplomat who has lived in 
Britain for nearly three decades is sworn in as Armenia’s new president on 
Monday. Sarkissian (no relation to Serzh) will have largely ceremonial powers 
due to the country’s switch to a parliamentary system of government.

Karapetian told Serzh Sarkisian that his cabinet has succeeded in achieving 
“all macro-objectives which were set up by you.” He said he looks forward to 
striving to meet “very ambitious” socioeconomic targets in the years ahead.

“That will certainly require hard and consistent work and audacity,” said the 
54-year-old former business executive. “We do see the directions in which we 
should move forward. I think that very interesting times await us.”

“According to our forecasts, for the next three or four years, we are going to 
achieve certain economic successes which will allow us to implement 
long-lasting, fundamental and profound reforms,” he declared.

Karapetian pledged to embark on such reforms after being appointed prime 
minister in September 2016. His government’s stated efforts to improve the 
domestic investment climate and tackle corruption have been praised by the 
International Monetary Fund but dismissed as a gimmick by the Armenian 
opposition. Opposition leaders have questioned official statistics showing that 
Armenia’s economy grew by 7.5 percent last year.

Opposition groups are even more critical of Sarkisian’s decade-long presidency, 
calling it a gross failure. They also accuse the outgoing president of breaking 
a 2014 pledge not to become prime minister in 2018. Some of them are planning 
to stage street protests next week against his apparent plans to extend his 

Panorama, Armenia
April 11 2018
Armenian opposition MPs set off smoke bombs in parliament as an act of protest

Deputies from the opposition faction Yelk carried out an act of protest during today’s sitting of the Armenian National Assembly by setting off colored smoke bombs.

MP Ararat Mirzoyan announced that Yelk faction will hold a rally at the Liberty Square in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, in the evening of April 13, citing the need to put an end to the rule of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and prevent ex-President Serzh Sargsyan’s next term this time as prime minister.  
“We will burn our torch of our freedom there,” he said, addressing the parliament.

Afterwards, PM Mirzoyan pulled colored smoke bombs out of his pocket and set them off.

Lena Nazaryan, another Yelk MP, joined him, with the entire sessions hall of the parliament filled with colored smoke shortly afterwards.
After the act of protest, Deputy Parliament Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov announced: “It seems the show did not work. Open the doors! Let us work as normal!;

PanArmenian, Armenia
April 11 2018
Armenia a semi-consolidated authoritarian regime: Freedom House 

Armenihas been  ranked as a semi-consolidated authoritarian regime in the in the Nations in Transit report prepared by the Freedom House.

The country's democracy score declined from 5.39 to 5.43 in a scale of 1-7 (1=most democratic, 7=least democratic).

"While Armenia’s constitution and laws ostensibly enshrine the principles of democracy, autocratic practices pervade governance in practice," the report says.
"National governance in 2017 was generally stable, with ruling elites focusing on solidifying Armenia’s constitutional transformation—a plan, approved in a 2015 referendum, to change the country from a semipresidential system to a parliamentary one. The most significant step of the year in this transformation took place in April, when parliamentary elections were held under the country’s new electoral system.

Questions linger about whether president Serzh Sargsyan will pursue formal public office—for example, as the new prime minister, who will hold most executive power—or influence politics from behind the scenes as leader of the Republican Party of Armenia. His choice, and the filling of the prime minister’s seat if he chooses not to take it, will have fundamental ramifications for institutions at the national level, and will also serve as a strong indication of ruling elites’ true intentions regarding the constitutional changes. The year will also be a testing ground for Armenia’s ambitious foreign policy, particularly for its ability to balance closer cooperation with the EU with its heavy dependence on Russia."
In 2018, Nations in Transit registered the most score declines in the project’s 23-year history: 19 of the 29 countries had declines in their overall Democracy Scores. For the second year in a row, there are more Consolidated Authoritarian Regimes than Consolidated Democracies.

Panorama, Armenia
April 11 2018
Parliament unanimously ratifies Armenia-EU deal

The Armenian National Assembly on Wednesday unanimously ratified the draft law on ratifying “The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part”.

All the 95 MPs in attendance of the sitting voted in favour of the bill, reports.

The Armenia-EU agreement was signed in the margins of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels on 24 November 2017.

RFE/RL Report
Foreign Investment In Armenia Down In 2017
April 06, 2018
Sargis Harutyunyan

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Armenia fell by 27 percent last year despite 
robust economic growth recorded by the government, official statistics show.

According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), FDI inflows totaled nearly 
$246 million in 2017, down from $338 million in 2016.They stood at $178.5 
million in 2015.

The Armenian Ministry for Economic Development and Investments on Friday 
declined to comment on reasons for this sizable reduction in FDI.

Vahagn Khachatrian, an economist affiliated with the opposition Armenian 
National Congress (HAK), said the drop shows that foreign investors do not 
trust in Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s reform pledges and, in particular, 
his cabinet’s stated efforts to improve the country’s business environment.

Khachatrian said that investors continue to be scared away by bureaucratic red 
tape, government corruption and a lack of competition. Neighboring Georgia 
attracted $1.8 billion in foreign investment last year because it has a more 
investor-friendly environment, he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (

Shortly after being appointed prime minister in September 2016, Karapetian 
pledged to help attract over $3 billion in domestic and foreign investments in 
the next few years. He said at least $830 million will be injected in the 
Armenian economy in 2017.

Karapetian’s government claimed to have honored the latter pledge earlier this 
year. In a 12-page report, it said $856.5 million worth of various “investment 
projects” were implemented across the country in 2017. Private investors 
accounted for just over two-thirds of this figure, the report said, adding that 
the remaining investments were financed from the state budget as well as 
foreign loans and grants obtained by the government.

The NSS reported last month that the Armenian economy grew by 7.5 percent in 
2017 after stagnating in 2016. Opposition politicians and other critics of the 
government question the credibility of this growth rate.

NSS figures show that the British island of Jersey was the main source of 
foreign investments made in Armenia last year. The tax haven is home to an 
Anglo-American company, Lydian International, which is currently building a 
massive gold mine in the southeastern Vayots Dzor province. Lydian has pledged 
to invest a total of $370 million in the Amulsar gold deposit.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Nuclear Plant Not At Risk Of Closure, Says Government
April 10, 2018
Tatevik Lazarian

A landmark agreement signed by Armenia and the European Union in November does not call for the closure of the Metsamor nuclear power plant anytime soon, a 
senior Armenian official insisted on Tuesday.

The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) covers a wide range of areas, including Armenia-EU cooperation on “energy matters.” It specifically refers to “the closure and safe decommissioning of Metsamor nuclear power plant and the early adoption of a road map or action plan to that effect.”

The 350-page agreement makes clear at the same time that such a plan must take 
into account “the need for [the plant’s] replacement with new capacity to 
ensure the energy security of the Republic of Armenia.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Karen Nazarian emphasized this provision when he 
assured Armenian lawmakers that as a result of the CEPA Yerevan will not be 
forced to shut down Metsamor before replacing it with a new nuclear or other 
energy facility. “There is no such language in the agreement,” Nazarian said 
during a parliament debate on the CEPA’s ratification.

The EU and the United State have long pressed for the decommissioning of the 
plant generating roughly one-third of Armenia’s electricity. They have said 
that Metsamor’s Soviet-built reactor does not meet modern safety standards. 
Successive Armenian governments have sought to allay these fears.

Serzh Sarkisian pledged to build a new plant shortly after becoming Armenia’s 
president in 2008. However, his government failed to attract billions of 
dollars in funding needed for replacing the Metsamor facility. The government 
decided instead to extend the life of Metsamor’s 420-megawatt reactor by 10 
years, until 2027.

Russia is playing a key role in this endeavor, having provided Armenia with a 
$270 million loan and a $30 million grant in 2015. The money is being mainly 
spent on the purchase of Russian nuclear equipment and additional safety 
measures taken at the plant located 35 kilometers west of Yerevan.

A 20-year energy strategy adopted by the Sarkisian administration in 2015 calls 
for Armenia’s continued reliance on atomic energy.

ARKA, Armenia
April 11 2018
Largest crypto currency mining farm to be built in Armenia

The Armenian concern Multi Group and the Swedish company Omnia Tech are building the world's largest crypto-currency mining farm in Armenia, the founder of Omnia Tech Robert Velghe said today in Yerevan.

He said the farm will be using more than 150,000 machines for mining of bitcoins, ethereum and other crypto currencies.

"We intend to create here a blockchain-based center for the development of new information projects, which will turn Armenia into a high-tech platform," Velghe said.

He also said that the mining of crypto-currencies starts in Armenia later this month. He said some 500 foreign companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon are expected to join these projects. Velghe noted that the company plans to invest more than $ 2 billion in these projects in the next two years.

CEO of Multi Group Sedrak Arustamyan noted in turn that at this stage the concern will assist in providing Omnia Tech with mining facilities and will help also with the technical support.

"We will also help Omnia Tech with the establishment of the Financial Technology Park and the data exchange center in Armenia," Arustamyan said. 

No comments: