Armenia Profile

Source: BBC
Wednesday, 21 April, 2004, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK

Country profile: Armenia

A landlocked republic with Turkey to the west and Georgia to the north,
Armenia has seen great changes since the break-up of the Soviet Union in
Once dubbed the Soviet ‘silicon valley’, Armenia’s economy collapsed when
its old markets disappeared.



It has since recovered significantly, but job creation and poverty reduction
have not kept pace with growth. Armenia also suffers from a trade blockade,
imposed by neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan since the dispute over

The conflict over the predominantly Armenian-populated region in Azerbaijan
overshadowed Armenia’s return to independence in 1991. Full-scale war broke
out the same year as ethnic Armenians in Karabakh fought for independence,
supported by troops and resources from Armenia proper. A ceasefire in place
since 1994 has failed to deliver any lasting solution.

Armenia has always experienced waves of emigration, but the present exodus
is causing much alarm. It is estimated that Armenia has lost 20% of its
population in recent years, as young families leave for what they hope will
be a better life abroad. The negative consequences for the economy have been

Around 50% of Armenians live below the poverty line. Corruption and
political killings add to the sense of a society under threat.

Gunmen who stormed the Yerevan parliament in 1999, killing the prime
minister and other politicians, said the plight of the Armenian people was
the reason for the bloodshed. Analysts believe that there were more complex
political factors involved as well.

The government is trying to promote tourism and technology parks. But
foreign investors are reported to be extremely wary.



Population: 3.1 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Yerevan
Major languages: Armenian, Russian
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 dram = 100 lumas
Main exports: Processed and unprocessed diamonds, machinery, metal products,
GNI per capita: US $790 (World Bank, 2002)
Internet domain: .am
International dialling code: +374



President: Robert Kocharyan

President Kocharyan
President Kocharyan is a former president of the self-proclaimed
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. He became Armenian prime minister in 1997 and was
elected president the following year on a platform of ensuring the existence
of Karabakh and boosting the Armenian economy.

Mr Kocharyan’s reelection as president in 2003 was followed by widespread
allegations of ballot-rigging.

He went on to propose controversial constitutional amendments on the role of
parliament. These were rejected in a referendum the following May at the
same time as parliamentary elections which left Mr Kocharyan’s party in a
very powerful position in parliament.

There were mounting calls for Mr Kocharyan’s resignation in early 2004 with
thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets in support of demands for a
referendum of confidence in him.

A Communist Party official in Soviet times, Mr Kocharyan is no longer a
member of any political party.

The Armenian president has said he wants to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh
question and has held meetings with his Azerbaijani counterpart. But while
he acknowledges the importance to peace of compromise on both sides, he
insists that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh must be guaranteed the right to
exist within safe borders and that a link with Armenia must be maintained.

Mr Kocharyan was born in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1954 and trained as an
electrical engineer in Yerevan.

Prime minister: Andranik Markaryan
Foreign minister: Vardan Oskanyan
Defence minister: Serzh Sarkisyan



Armenia’s government oversees national TV and radio. The national public TV
service can also be seen in many districts of neighbouring Azerbaijan. The
main Russian TV channels are widely available.

Libel and defamation are punishable by prison terms and journalists have
been sentenced under these laws. All print and broadcast media must register
with the Justice Ministry.

In 2003 the US-based NGO Freedom House downgraded its assessment of the
media climate in Armenia from “partly free” to “not free”, citing the use of
security and libel laws to silence criticism and the closure of a private TV
station in 2002.

The press

Aravot – private
Ayots Ashkar – private
Ayastani Anrapetutyun – founded by Armenian parliament
Aykakan Zhanamak – founded by opposition Democratic Homeland Party
Azg – founded by Liberal Democratic Party
Golos Armenii – private
Iravunk – founded by Union of Constitutional Law party
Respublika Armenia – founded by Armenian Presidential Executive Staff,
parliament and government
Yerkir – founded by Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun

Public TV of Armenia – national, state-run
Armenia TV – national, commercial
Prometheus TV – national, commercial

Public Radio of Armenia – national, state-run
Hai FM – first private radio station

Hit FM – private, Yerevan FM station
Radio Alfa – private, Yerevan FM station
Radio Van – private, Yerevan FM station
News agencies

Arka – private
Armenpress – state-run
Noyan Tapan – private
Mediamax – private
Arminfo – private

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS