Armenian minister justifies choice of Karabakh Telecom as secondoper

Armenian minister justifies choice of Karabakh Telecom as second operator

Aravot, Yerevan
10 Nov 04

Text of Aram Abramyan report by Armenian newspaper Aravot on 10
November headlined “Who, if not Karabakh Telecom?”

Interview with Armenian Transport and Communications Minister Andranik

[Correspondent] A tender implies the involvement of several entities,
however, the tender commission headed by you has taken a hasty decision
to issue a licence to the Karabakh Telecom company. Why?

[Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukyan] The
government has set up a commission and has the right to determine
the procedure and conditions of the tender. According to the law, the
government has such an opportunity in exclusive cases. The commission
chaired by me drew up the procedure and conditions, and we considered
that Karabakh Telecom meets these conditions.

A package of investment proposals presented by the company
stipulates 50m-dollar investment in the development of cellular
communications. The establishment of this type of communications
in border districts is of special importance to us. At the same
time, Karabakh Telecom, unlike ArmenTel, provides a link of higher
quality. So we shall already have two cellular operators next year
and competition in this sector will lead to a fall in tariffs and
enhance the quality of the link.

I want to speak about another important circumstance that had an
undoubtful influence on the commission’s decision. The Karabakh Telecom
company has invested 15m dollars in Karabakh, which is considered to
be a risky zone, and under the licence we have issued, it undertakes to
invest another 10m dollars. Moreover, the company will pay 7m dollars
to the Armenian state budget only for the issuance of the licence.

Karabakh Telecom provides Karabakh’s roaming link with 88 countries,
promoting the recognition of Artsakh [Karabakh] by the leading
countries of the world in this sphere. It is well-known that
communications operators in the USA, Britain, France, China and other
developed countries have signed contracts with Karabakh Telecom.

Why should we not give this company an opportunity to become a
second operator in Armenia, and what’s more, with very limited
rights? Karabakh Telecom will only work in the cellular communications
sector. ArmenTel will provide all other remaining telecommunications

Finally, owing to this and other previous steps taken by the
government, we managed to withstand huge work carried out by Azerbaijan
which aims to deprive our compatriots in Artsakh of the link with the
outside world. I hope that no Armenian wants these plans of Azerbaijan
to be realized. Therefore, I urge our opposition politicians to avoid
speculating on this issue.

[Correspondent] The word Karabakh in the name of the company tells
the public that the genuine owners of this business are high-profile
people from Karabakh.

[Manukyan] This is a dirty gossip. I hope that when the owner of
Karabakh Telecom, Arab businessman Pierre M. Fattouch arrives in
Armenia, you will have an opportunity to talk to him. With this,
these absurd doubts will disappear themselves.

[Correspondent] Is it true that you and Justice Minister David
Arutyunyan are at loggerheads over the recent events around ArmenTel?

[Manukyan] This is another myth. Arutyunyan and I are members
of the government and are obliged to present our approaches at
meetings. Sometimes they coincide, sometimes not. If all ministers
had the same approach to all questions, there would be no need to
exchange opinions. David Arutyunyan expressed his point of view,
I expressed mine. For the time being, we, as colleagues, are working
to implement these and other decisions that have been adopted.