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Vice Speaker of Azeri Parliament: United States and Russia will come to terms on Nagorno-Karabakh settlement

Vice-speaker of Armenian parliament calls on Ankara to be impartial when assessing historical reality

Polish Ambassador to Armenia: Restart of Armenian-Turkish dialogue is a matter of time

Levon Zurabyan: Process for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide was started by Levon Ter-Petrosyan and ended by Serzh Sargsyan

Sergey Markedonov: Armenia is an interesting example of whether the Eurasian countries are able to remain committed to the principle of "two pipes"

Yerevan: Erdogan's statement of the Armenian genocide was made under the growing international pressure upon Ankara

Stefan Fule positively assesses Turkish prime minister's statement

Jen Psaki: USA welcomes Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's statement on the events at the beginning of the 20th century

US Congressman: Denial of the Armenian Genocide produced the Holocaust

US Ambassador on behalf of the president again promises a strong statement on the Armenian genocide

Armenian President's Staff: Erdogan's statement displays Turkey's policy of Armenian genocide denial in a more polished way

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Rauf Mirkadyrov

Russia's ambassador to Armenia: Mankind should correctly assess the events happened at the beginning of the 20th century

Armenian Assembly of America and Armenian National Committee of America make statements on Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's remarks regarding April 24th

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party: "Relations between Turkey and Armenia can be restored only after liberation of Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia"

Armenian Foreign Minister receives US Congressmen

Acting Justice Minister of Armenia: We should always keep our powder dry

Armenian President appoints new ministers

Prime Minister of Canada addresses Armenian-Canadian community and qualifies events in early XX century as "the first genocide of the twentieth century"

Armenian President pays tribute to memory of Armenian Genocide victims

Erdogan's statement on events of 1915 is part of process that has been going on over the past 4.5 years, Ahmet Davutoglu says

April 24 is a mournful date in Armenian people's history

Bako Sahakyan: Armenian Genocide is considered as one of the heaviest crimes against humanity with no expiration date

Armenian President: We are convinced that the denial of Armenian Genocide constitutes the direct continuation of that very crime

Online Citizen Engagement Platform for Armenia

One of Orange subscribers to become the VIP guest of Cannes Film Festival

Vazgen Sargsyan's brother appointed Advisor to Armenian Defence Minister

RPA minister: If Kocharyan wants to return to the politics, let him do that openly

Serzh Sargsyan: Not one drop of Lake Sevan water goes to Azerbaijan

"Hraparak": Artur Bagdasaryan appointed as a head of CSTO Academy Council

Within the frames of charitable action Anelik Bank staff gathers 1 billion AMD to help Kessab Armenians

Armenia on the second position among post-Soviet countries by the number of EU visa denials

Director of Ichthyology and Hydroecology Institute: Higher maximum admissible level of water release from Sevan to have a negative effect on the lake's ecosystem

Hraparak newspaper: Tigran Sargsyan will be appointed Armenia's Ambassador to USA

Karen Karapetyan has no intention to take any post in the government staff

Serzh Sargsyan has not yet offered parliament speaker's position to Galust Sahakyan

Hovik Abrahamyan: Pension reform in Armenia must be mandatory, but not binding

Serj Tankian: Both Armenians and Turks deserve leaders and governments

Hovik Abrahamyan introduces the newly appointed Economy Minister Karen Chshmarityan

Vacheh Gabrielyan appointed top advisor to prime minister of Armenia

Successful experience of first two Ameria Generation projects of 2012-2013 encourages Ameriabank to launch the third project in 2014

ARFD: Unlike Tigran Sargsyan, Hovik Abrahamyan is ready for concessions

Gagik Tsarukyan: Consultations between political forces and civil sector underway

Oppositionist: Serzh Sargsyan shuts down for Robert Kocharyan the way towards the power

Laura Bagdasaryan: Having proclaimed me Mata Hari, the authorities of Azerbaijan are striving to put the lid on the people's diplomacy

In Q1 2014 Areximbank-Gazprombank Group registers net profit of 289mln AMD

Politician: President of Armenia does not want to fray relations with the West. For this reason, he does not recall his signature from under the Armenian-Turkish Protocols

Robert Kocharyan: Constitution should be reformed only in case if it must not but be reformed

Council of Field Commanders to convene in Republican Square on 23 April

Hraparak newspaper: Galust Sahakyan to head parliament

Regional

Vice-Speaker of Israeli Knesset to Deliver in Tbilisi Lecture on Israeli-Arabic Relations

German Chancellor Invites Garibashvili to Visit her Country

Georgian Foreign Minister to Visit Germany

Georgian Foreign Minister Attends International Conference in Vilnius

President to Have Exclusive Right to Grant Georgian Citizenship

NATO Week in Georgia Starts Today

Discussion of the Azerbaijani-Iranian relations on Culture and Tourism

Chief of General Staff of the RF to visit Baku

Ilham Aliyev will visit NAR

Georgian Premier Starts his Regional Tour

Georgian President to Hold Talks in Poland

Georgian Prime Minister Meets with EU Special Adviser

Erdogan is arriving in Baku

Simplification of the visa regime between the EU and Azerbaijan may occur in the summer

U.S. Embassy: Any allegations that US government representatives are trying to foment a revolution in Azerbaijan are absolutely absurd

Foreign Minister of Afghanistan to Pay Official Visit to Georgia

Georgian Foreign Ministry Makes Strict Statement, Concerning Referendum in the Crimea

President Margvelashvili Meets Georgian Troops, Deployed in Afghanistan

Georgian Premier and Afghan Foreign Minister Discuss Two Countries' Relations

Georgian Premier Holds Official Dinner in Honor of Romanian Prime Minister

Analyst: The USA invested $5 billion to directly support Maidan

Georgian Ambassador to Japan Hands over Credentials to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan.

Tbilisi Hosts Annual PDP Conference

NATO May Accelerate Georgia's Integration and Grant it MAP because of the Crimea Problem

Georgian Ambassador to Lithuania Addresses Seimas

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister in Baku

Gerhard Schroeder will make a speech in Baku

Putin is unable to persuade the leader of the Crimean Tatars

Georgian Defence Minister Attends NATO Defence Ministerial

Saakashvili is Offered High Post in Kiev

Hovhannes Igityan: Only reason why they 'invited' Armenia into the Customs Union was to show Europe who wears the pants in the post-Soviet area

ArmInfo’s interview with member of the Board of Armenian Pan-National Movement Hovhannes Igityan

  • by David Stepanyan

  • Saturday, February 22, 10:32

The ruling regime’s zeal in adopting more and more unpopular measures has put Armenia on the verge of a default, with the only solution they offer being the “accumulative” robbery or some ridiculous fines for no OMI policy...

 

It is very hard to speak of economic component of any issues in Armenia, given that the actions of the authorities contain neither macroeconomic components nor economic criteria. The bankruptcy of the authorities emerges in economy when they stake on indirect taxes and take indirect measures to replenish the budget.  Imposing indirect taxes is the easiest thing today. Look at VAT on the vital foodstuffs, it is an additional load on consumers. It is interesting that we do not often notice it. If VAT turns insufficient for the budget replenishment, the authorities resort to excise tax, additional customs duties, property taxes, absurd fines for not having third-party liability insurance policy. After all, this burden lies heavy on the nation. What we see now in the country means that the authorities no longer have any natural methods to replenish the budget. Meanwhile 60%-65% of GDP of Germany is the share of SMEs. In Japan this indicator reaches nearly 90%. In other developed countries the major taxes are profit and incomes taxes - direct taxes collected from the real sector of economy. One needs no deep analysis to make sure that the Armenian authorities grab hold on the scandalous mandatory accumulative pension system to replenish the budget. At the latest meeting of Yerkrapah Union of Volunteers, Serzh Sargsyan made quite abstract statements, including on the pension reform. Nevertheless, the president declared quite sincerely that  'these money are necessary for our economy,' Considering that any economy is developed at the expense of anything but the government funds, the president probably meant the necessity to cover the budget deficit. Admitting that the 'authorities spend their political resource' being well aware that 80% of the population opposes the pension reforms, the president, actually, reaffirmed that the authorities are at the end of their tether.

 

For many years Armenia was moving towards Europe, was harmonizing its laws to European requirements, but all of a sudden, it decided to join the Customs Union. Let’s talk about this...

 

Whenever I ask my colleagues who are in power now about the Customs Union, they whisper to me that the Union is a guarantee of Nagorno-Karabakh's security. I don't like whispering as I think that in the 21st century politics must be open. My belief is that Nagorno-Karabakh's security cannot be based on a five-minute whisper between Vladimir Putin and Serzh Sargsyan. Security cannot be based on personalities, it must be fixed on paper. I doubt that the Customs Union will give Armenia economic benefits. Today almost all experts say that the growth in customs duties that will follow Armenia's joining the Customs Union will result in growing prices inside the country. And there is no guarantee that the collected duties will be used for our benefit. Part of it will be given in kickbacks, the rest will go to those in power. Direct investment of just one billion of USD would create at least 50,000-60,000 in Armenia and would make solvent almost 1/4 of the local population. Nobody seems to care though.  They look to be happy enough at having just $3,000 per capita GDP and $4bln national budget.

 

Customs Union membership does not seem to imply independent investments in Armenia - unless they are politically motivated...

 

The Armenian authorities hope that Russia will grant their request to exempt from customs duties as many as 600-800 products imported into Armenia but Russia is aware how corrupt they are. Armenia is a pure consumer as it produces almost no goods. 30-50% of its population are poor. So, well aware of this the local authorities have kept import duties low so as to prevent any big growth in the consumer goods basket. Russia's economy is based on oil and gas exports and low-tech expensive production.

 

Do you mean that the only way for the Russians to protect their market is to keep their import duties high?

 

Yes, I do. Once Armenia joins the Customs Union, it will have to accept its home consumer-friendly model, so, it will be a road to an abyss for us. The Customs and Eurasian unions are not systematic projects. They are based on the personalities of Putin, Nazarbayev, Lukashenko and Sargsyan. Should at least one of them quit, the whole project may sink – or at least it will continue without Armenia. With Europe the Armenian authorities kept feigning commitment to integrate in hope that they were smarter than the Europeans. With Russia this will hardly work out as it is the Russians who want to see us as part of the Customs Union.

 

What will be the consequences of growing essentials prices?

 

I think this will result in a new wave of emigration. Once the consumer goods basket in Armenia grows, the earnings of the several hundreds of thousands of Armenia working in Russia will drop and they will no longer be able to transfer money to their families in Armenia and will prefer taking them to Russia. This may cause a social riot but they in the Kremlin do not care as the only reason why they 'invited' Armenia into the Customs Union was to show Europe who wears the pants in the post-Soviet area. Armenia was small fish in this game. Russia's key target here were Ukraine and the EU's Eastern Partnership program.

 

Will it be good for Armenia if Russia becomes even stronger due to its Eurasian integration projects?

 

The problem is that the Armenian authorities do not think strategically. For example, they are not asking themselves if Russia's strengthening in the post-Soviet area will be good for them. Theoretically, this will not be good for us. Practically, our authorities are not even thinking about this. We are consistently moving towards self-isolation from both regional and global processes. This notwithstanding, we are in a better geo-political situation than Azerbaijan and Georgia: Azerbaijan has bad relations with the West and Iran, Georgia is at odds with Russia, while we have good relations with all the parties. But what our authorities mostly care about is how to retain their power – this is the key reason why we are in isolation and why our people are becoming increasingly defiant. Armenia’s relations with Russia are based on bootlicking. As a result, we have ceased to be a serious factor for them in the Kremlin. All they need to do should any problem arise is just to call Serzh Sargsyan.

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