Armenian paper displeased Russian-owned plants still not operating

Armenian paper displeased Russian-owned plants still not operating

Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan
13 Jul 04 p 2

Text of Hayk Gevorkyan’s report by Armenian newspaper Haykakan
Zhamanak on 13 July headlined “We are not demanding, we are simply

“By taking over these enterprises, Russia hopes that the industrial
capacities and the scientific and technical potential of these
enterprises will operate in full. They will operate within the
framework of programmes that exist in Russia: electronic industry, the
development of the production of armament systems, etc,” the former
prime minister of Russia, Mikhail Kasyanov, made this statement in
Yerevan in November 2002, when he was signing the so-called “property
for debt” agreement together with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik
Markaryan. According to this agreement, five Armenian enterprises
became the Russian government’s property, for which the latter
“forgave” 98m dollars of Armenia’s debt to Russia. Kasyanov’s hopes
did not come true. Nothing has changed in the life of the biggest
enterprises which were handed over to Russia: the Razdan power plant
and Mars. The Razdan power plant is operating as before, Mars is
almost non-operating (it operates even less than before).

In the remaining scientific-research institutes, the volume of orders
from customers has grown slightly, but nobody dares to say that this
growth is due to the fact that the institutes were handed over to
Russia. That is, the orders would have probably grown even if they had
not been handed over to Russia. In a word, the economic results, which
were spoken about so much while handing over the enterprises to
Russia, have not been achieved. They said that as a result of the
property for debt agreement, Russian investments will flow into
Armenia, new technologies will be brought, new jobs will be created,

Within the framework of Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan’s
visit to Russia, the further fate of the Armenian enterprises that
have become Russian property will be discussed. “We shall try to
clarify the schedule and the approaches of the Russian party. This
concerns mainly Mars,” Andranik Markaryan told journalists at
Zvartnots airport before his departure to Moscow. His careful answers
are not accidental. From a legal point of view, the Russians did not
undertake to put other enterprises into operation or provide them with
equipment. On the contrary, they were given numerous privileges. For
instance, the Razdan power plant received a tax privilege of more than
6m dollars that it could not even dream of when it was Armenia’s

In a word, we have nothing to demand from the Russians. “We are not
demanding, we are simply asking,” Trade and Economic Development
Minister Karen Chshmarityan said. There are also problems concerning
the fifth block of the Razdan power plant. The point is that within
the framework of the property for debt agreement, the fifth block was
put to a so-called “option”, i.e., the Armenian party promised not to
sell it to a third party until the end of the current year and gave
the Russians a privileged right to buy it. Our delegation will try to
clarify in Moscow if the Russians will buy the fifth block or we can
sell it to somebody else.

On the whole, we have the impression that we, as well as the Russians,
are searching for excuses to explain why nothing has changed in the
enterprises that were handed over to Russia within the framework of
the property for debt agreement. Elections were being held in Russia,
a government was being formed, etc. [Russian MP] Nikolay Ryzhkov
expressed his displeasure in Yerevan that the enterprises belong to
Russia, but the Armenian laws are operating there, as if in Russia the
French laws are operating in enterprises that belong to France. It is
evident that it is only a justification so as to deny in some way that
the property for debt agreement was only a political decision which
helps Russia ensure its presence in the region, and the Armenian
authorities support this by all means. And in this case, we can only
ask and never demand.