Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... New Armenian Government Formed
New Armenian Government Formed
May 13, 2018
Emil Danielyan

After completing the formation of his government, Armenia’s new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian reaffirmed his pledges to carry out sweeping reforms and push for fresh parliamentary elections on Sunday.

The three deputy prime ministers and 17 ministers handpicked by Pashinian were formally appointed by President Armen Sarkissian on Friday and Saturday. Four of them held senior positions in the country’s previous government that was swept from power by nationwide massive protests led by Pashinian.

The new cabinet includes experienced technocrats, young Pashinian associates and other political appointees representing the three minority factions in the Armenian parliament that helped to install the 42-year-old protest leader as prime minister on May 8.

Businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance, the second largest parliamentary force, nominated Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian and the ministers of energy, transport and communications, emergency situations, and sports and youth affairs. Grigorian is a 46-year-old banker.

Pashinian also reached a de facto power-sharing deal with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which was allied to former President and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian until his resignation on April 23.

Dashnaktsutyun will be represented in the new government by Minister for Economic Development Artsvik Minasian and Agriculture Minister Artur Khachatrian. Minasian served as environment minister while Khachatrian was the governor of the northwestern Shirak province until this month.

The two other deputy prime ministers, Ararat Mirzoyan and Tigran Avinian, are senior members of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party. Avinian, 29, is apparently the youngest vice-premier in Armenia’s history.

Two other Civil Contract figures, Arayik Harutiunian and Suren Papikian, were appointed as ministers of education and local government respectively.

Pashinian also gave two ministerial portfolios to top representatives of the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) and Bright Armenian parties making up, together with Civil Contract, the Yelk alliance. Hanrapetutyun’s Artak Zeynalian was named justice minister while Bright Armenia’s Mane Tandilian will manage the Armenian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Three other other, more important cabinet posts were given to non-partisan figures. One of them, Zohrab Mnatsakanian, Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations until now, will serve as foreign minister. The 52-year-old career diplomat was the country’s deputy foreign minister from 2011-2014.

The new Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan worked as minister for emergency situations in the previous government. Tonoyan, 49, was Armenia’s first deputy defense minister from 2010-2017. A graduate of Russia’s Military-Diplomatic Academy, he represented the Armenian military at the NATO headquarters in Brussels from 1998-2007.

Pashinian’s choice of finance minister is Atom Janjughazian, a longtime deputy finance minister and head of the Armenian state treasury.

Pashinian met with the newly appointed cabinet members on Sunday, saying that his “government of accord” must strive to live up to the huge expectations of the country’s population that has overwhelmingly supported his protest movement. That, he said, requires a “new style, new philosophy, new culture” of work by all government agencies.

“Please get down to business, familiarize yourself with the current state of affairs today so that we don’t lose time,” he said. “There are operational issues that need to be solved as soon as possible.”

“The public must feel that this is a government formed by it and accountable to it,” added the former journalist.

Pashinian reiterated in that regard that his government must embark on sweeping “reforms in various areas.” He pledged earlier to democratize Armenia, strengthen the rule of law, separate business from government and radically improve the broader investment climate.

Pashinian also told his ministers to start working on the government’s comprehensive policy program which he has to submit to the parliament within the next three weeks. Its approval by lawmakers would amount to a vote of confidence.

Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which still holds the majority of parliament seats, has signaled its readiness to back the program despite its serious misgivings about Pashinian’s premiership. The program’s rejection by the National Assembly would pave the way for snap general elections.

Pashinian said on Sunday that the conduct of such polls will be his cabinet’s top “political priority.” But he again did not say just when he thinks they should be held.

Sputnik, Russia
May 13 2018
Pashinyan Invites Renowned US Economist to Restore Armenia’s Economy
© REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

Prominent US Economist Daron Acemoglu, the professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has agreed to provide his assistance in restoring Armenia’s economy after the country was hit with a wave of anti-government protests, newly-elected Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Sunday.

“I just had a phone conversation with widely known economist of Armenian origin Daren Acemoglu. He said that he is ready to help Armenia in the issue of restoring and developing the economy. Mr.Acemoglu has accepted the invitation to visit Armenia,” Pashinyan wrote on Facebook.

The prime minister added that the dates of Acemoglu's visit will be announced soon.

Acemoglu was born in Turkey to Armenian parents, but since has moved to the United States and now holds the US citizenship. He has previously criticized the former Armenian government for high level of corruption and ineffective economic policy as the country has long been suffering from underdevelopment., Armenia
May 14 2018
Pashinyan confirms Armenia’s commitment to international obligations 
Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reaffirmed Armenia’s full commitment to its international obligations, including those in the sidelines of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Pashinyan said during the EAEU summit in Sochi.

He reminded that a peaceful change of power took place in Armenia and the program of the new Government does not foresee changes in foreign policy directions.

He noted that the discourse over the EAEU inside the Armenian public is conditioned by the fact that the solution of administrative issues, switching to new and common regulatory mechanisms, as well as the existence of different obstacles do not justify the expectations of business to receive immediate and tangible results.

“I think that the joint efforts of the EAEU member states and the commitment to record visible results every day will reduce the volume of such discourses”, Pashinyan said, emphasizing that Armenia is interested in that. 

“First of all it’s necessary to ensure rise in trade and economic cooperation, to put the emphasis on new and high technologies, ensure equal conditions for business entities in practice and find solutions to the issues that directly impact on the quality of life. Finally, if economic indexes are not felt by citizens, they become statistics”, the Armenian Premier said.

May 14 2018
New Armenian PM tells Putin he wants closer ties with Russia
Denis Pinchuk, Andrew Osborn

Armenia’s new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power last week after a peaceful revolution, told President Vladimir Putin on Monday he favored closer political and military ties with Russia. 

The meeting, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, was the first time the two men had met and followed Pashinyan’s election last week after weeks of street protests. 

Some Western media had questioned whether Pashinyan, a former journalist who won power by channeling public discontent over perceived political cronyism, would keep his country, a landlocked ex-Soviet state, closely aligned with Russia, which has a military base in Armenia and a long history of selling it weapons. 
Pashinyan, who had previously reassured Russian diplomats he did not plan to break with Moscow, was unequivocal on Monday, telling Putin he wanted the two countries to remain firm allies, for Armenia to buy more Russian weapons and for them to forge closer political and trade ties. 

“We have things to discuss, but there are also things that do not need any discussion,” said Pashinyan. 
“That is the strategic relationship of allies between Armenia and Russia. ... I can assure you that in Armenia there is a consensus and nobody has ever doubted the importance of the strategic nature of Armenian-Russian relations.” 

Pashinyan said he wanted to inject new energy into developing already close ties between Moscow and Yerevan and thanked Putin for the way the Russian leader had handled the Armenian street protests. 
Russia did not intervene militarily, but was in close contact with Armenian politicians during the protests. 

“...We really appreciate the balanced position which Russia adopted during our domestic crisis,” said Pashinyan. “I think it was a very constructive position.” 
Armenia won independence from Moscow in 1991, but has been hampered by its conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and has looked to Russia to guarantee its security. 

Putin told Pashinyan Russia regarded Armenia as one of its closest allies in the region and wanted closer ties too. 
“I want to wish you success in your post as head of the government,” said Putin. “I hope our relations will develop as steadily as they have until now.” 

Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Janet Lawrence

ArmenPress, Armenia
May 14 2018
Erdogan repeats unfriendly statements towards Armenia in London speech

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is currently in the UK, delivered a speech in London’s Chatham House, the Turkish Milliyet newspaper reports.

Erdogan also touched upon Armenia in his speech titled “Turkey’s regional and global vision”, once again displaying his unfriendly position towards Armenia.
In particular, Erdogan claimed that Turkey is supporting all initiatives for establishing long term peace and welfare in the Caucasus and the Middle East, adding: “the only country absent from this picture in Armenia. We are waiting for the day when we will see a reasonable approach from the Armenian leadership”.

This is the second similar statement by Turkey about Armenia in the recent days, which once again proves that Ankara continues speaking in the language of preconditions with Armenia.

Earlier on May 11, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirimn responded to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statement on the establishment of diplomatic ties with Ankara without preconditions. However, the Turkish PM once again repeated their preconditions.

According to Hurriyet newspaper, Yildirimn has said that Turkey doesn’t want to be hostile with its neighbors. Nevertheless, Yildirimn essentially didn’t deviate from the traditional Turkish political line towards Armenia.
In particular, the Turkish PM said: “Certainly if Armenia changes its hostile stance towards Turkey, refuses from its ambitions towards Turkey’s territorial integrity and borders, refuses from it all, desires to open a new chapter, then we will examine details and respond accordingly. We don’t want to be in hostility with anyone, particularly with neighbors. If such an approach would exist, we will discuss it within the framework of the interests of our state”.

In response to a question from reporters in Artsakh, the Armenian Prime Minister had earlier said that Armenia is today also ready for establishing relations with Turkey – without preconditions.

“As you know, Turkey has preconditions in this issue, and these preconditions are illogical, because relations with a third country cannot be a preconditions for the establishment of relations between two countries”, PM Pashinyan had said.

ENGLISH: Editor/Translator -Stepan Kocharyan

ARKA, Armenia
May 14 2018
British businessmen expected to visit Armenia to get first-hand view of country’s investment climate

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received last Saturday Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Republic of Armenia Judith Margareth Farnworth, the government press office said.

It said the interlocutors touched upon the developments in Armenia, the formation of the government and the Armenian-British relations. Prime Minister Pashinyan attached importance to the furtherance of cooperation between Armenia and the United Kingdom in political, economic and other fields.

The head of the Armenian government emphasized that the Armenian authorities are keen to bring in British investments and capital, adding that the new government program will clearly outline the ways and the vision of our country’s development.

The Premier said the authorities will take drastic steps aimed at improving continuously the business environment through enhanced protection of investments. At the same time, Nikol Pashinyan highlighted the importance of diversifying Armenia’s investment portfolio, including the British investments.
“We are firmly determined to implement our goals, programs and action plans, and the government will be accountable before society when implementing each step,” the Prime Minister underscored.

Felicitating Nikol Pashinyan on his election as Armenia’s Prime Minister, Ambassador Farnworth noted that the British government is prepared to take specific steps to develop relations with Armenia. The Ambassador expressed his country’s support for the Government’s reform program, including the steps aimed at improving the system of governance, bettering the business environment, strengthening democracy, modernizing the judicial system etc.

Margareth Farnworth highlighted the strengthening of economic ties, noting that British businessmen are expected to visit Armenia with a view to getting a first-hand view of our country’s investment climate and discussing investment possibilities with their Armenian counterparts.

The parties looked at ways of increasing bilateral trade turnover. They took the opportunity to discuss the geopolitical situation in the region, the expected parliamentary elections in Armenia, the proposed amendments to the Electoral Code and a number of other issues of mutual interest.

ARKA, Armenia
May 14 2018
Armenian Diaspora minister intends to carry out personnel changes

Armenian Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan said Monday that he intends to carry out personnel changes. 

He said the changes will not be purges in nature – everything will be decided after taking into account effectiveness criteria. 

Hayrapetyan pointed out the combination of experience and youth in the ministry as his key objective. 

”There will be no hasty decisions,” he said. “I am tuned to work with the existing team, and I am convinced that we will manage to solve all the problems we face.”

Commenting on fears that he is too young to fulfill his duties in office, he said that the fears are justified, but he will work hard to produce results.  

The minister also stated that the team in which he work will rid the country of corruption and solve major problems. 

He said that at the period of Armenian Republicans’ rule all areas were blighted with corruption, and he expressed confidence that the team will manage to root out corruption.   

Mkhitar Hayrapetyan, 27, is the youngest minister in the Cabinet.

He has graduated from the Yerevan State University with the eastern sciences specialist diploma. 

Hayrapetyan has been engaged in organization of tours to the Western Armenia. He is a member of the Civil Contract party led by Nikol Pashinyan. In the party he was responsible for relations with Armenian communities worldwide. 

Panorama, Armenia
May 14 2018
Artsakh soldier seriously wounded in Azerbaijani fire

A solder of the Artsakh Defense Army has suffered a severe gunshot wound as a result of Azerbaijani fire at the protection area of a military unit in the northern direction.

The soldier identified as Shamkhal S. Petrosyan, 20, was wounded on Sunday, May 13, at around 10:35pm local time, the Defense Ministry said in an official statement.
A probe is underway to uncover the details of the incident. 

Emerging Europe
May 14 2018
Armenia Goes Solar

Armenia has given its green light to the first large-scale solar power plant in the country’s history, the Masrik-1 55 MW solar power plant, the first competitively-tendered independent power project in Armenia.
The new plant will offset about 1 million tons of CO2 during its economic life-time of 20 years and create both short- and long-term jobs. In addition, the Masrik-1 plant will improve long-term energy security by promoting the development of solar resources and reducing the country’s dependence on imported natural gas.

“The Masrik-1 solar power plant is a pioneering project for Armenia, as well as for the South Caucasus region, and an exciting opportunity for the country to further develop its renewable energy potential”, said Sylvie Bossoutrot, World Bank country manager for Armenia. “Furthermore, the open and competitive bidding process carried out by the government has set an example for future investment in the country.”

The announcement of Masrik-1, which came on May 11, is a welcome piece of good news for the new prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, who took over only a few days previously after a peaceful popular uprising which has been dubbed a Velvet Revolution.
In 2014, the Armenian government had identified utility-scale solar photovoltaic as a priority under the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program Investment Plan (SREP) which provided a 2 million US dollars project preparation grant. SREP and the World Bank team supported the Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency Fund with installation of ground-based solar resource measurements; identification of Masrik-1 as the candidate site for the first round of tender; commissioning of feasibility studies and environmental and social impact assessments; and hiring of a transaction adviser to prepare and support the competitive tender process.

SREP and the World Bank also made available a guarantee instrument to mitigate investment risks, attract international developers and increase competition.

The launch of the Masrik-1 project opens up a new market for Armenia. Another five potential solar projects, with a total capacity of about 55 MW, already identified and prepared with support from SREP and the World Bank, are expected to be launched in the near future.

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