ARF Leader Discusses Economy, March 1 Commission


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Aug 20th, 2009

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)-Armenian Revolutionary Federation
Parliamentary Bloc member Artsvik Minasian, at a press conference
Thursday, slammed the government’s economic recovery efforts and
announced that an ad-hoc commission set up to investigate the March
1 events would continue its probe into 2008 post-election unrest.

Minasian echoed sentiments expressed Wednesday by the commission’s
chairman Samvel Nikoyan that in its upcoming report to parliament no
new answers will be provided to lingering questions resulting from
the investigation in to the March 1, 2008 events.

Nikoyan told RFE/RL Wednesday that the commission has failed to
ascertain the circumstances in which ten people were killed in clashes
between opposition protesters and security forces. In particular,
he said, it was unable to determine who was directly responsible for
the deaths of eight civilians and two police servicemen during its
one-year work.

"With regard to the causes of their death, I consider the investigative
agency’s work unsatisfactory," Minasian said.

The ARF leader said that the commission will continue to probe the
issues, despite the fact that some 2,500 pages of documents currently
at the commission’s disposal do not shed light on these key issues.

In a climate where opposition members who quit the multi-partisan
fact-finding group made accusations against the commission before it
could issue its findings, Minasian was less than confident that any
future report will reveal anything new.

"I think, our assessments were quite impartial," said Minasian
charging that "We could have been even more impartial if our opposition
colleagues had been more active."

On the economic front, Minasian said that the government should
reconsider its economic recovery policy.

The criticism coincided with the release of fresh statistical data
that shows a further deepening of the country’s worst economic crisis
since the early 1990s. According to the National Statistical Service,
the Armenian economy contracted by 18.5 percent year on year in the
first seven months of this year, reported RFE/RL.

The NSS had registered a GDP decline of 16.3 percent in the first
half of 2009. Armenian officials have said that the recession will
ease in the second half thanks to wide-ranging anti-crisis measures
taken by the government in recent months, according to RFE/RL.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan predicted on August 5 that the GDP
will likely shrink by 12 percent in 2009.

Deputy Finance Minister Vartan Aramian made a similar forecast on

However, Minasian predicted a full-year decline of about 20 percent.

Minasian argued that under the government’s plan, large sums were being
invested in the construction sector, without the adequate assessment
of demand or the Armenian consumers’ ability to purchase real estate.

As an example of what he called inadequacies in the government
plan, Minasian said that in the village of Baghramyan in the Armavir
region, the need for irrigation was much higher as compared to other
villages. However, under the government plan, water should be equally
shared by all villages.

Also during the press conference, Minasian announced plans for
an ARF rally on September 2 marking the independence day of the
Nagonor-Karabakh Republic.

He said the party will unveil a platform of political cooperation
during the rally.

"It [the platform] will enable the people to get acquainted with our
positions on all foreign and domestic policy issues," said Minasian.

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