RFE/RL Armenian Service – 11/03/2023

                                        Friday, November 3, 2023

Armenian Industrial Output Shrinks Amid Soaring Exports

Amenia - Workers at a textile factory in Vanadzor, August 28, 2023.

Armenia’s industrial production contracted in the first nine months of this year 
despite continuing economic growth driven, in large measure, by re-exports of 
various goods to sanctions-hit Russia.

The Armenian government’s Statistical Committee put its total amount at 1.84 
trillion drams ($4.6 billion), down by 0.6 percent from the same period of 2022. 
A downturn in the country’s export-oriented mining sector appears to have been 
instrumental in this drop contrasting with double-digit increases in trade, 
other services and construction.

The government data shows that wholesale and retail trade is the fastest growing 
sector of the domestic economy at present, having expanded by over 23 percent in 
January-September amid Armenia’s soaring trade with Russia.

Armenia’s imports and exports jumped by roughly 48 percent, continuing a trend 
that began after last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting 
barrage of Western sanctions against Russia. Goods manufactured in Western 
countries and their allies and re-exported from Armenia to Russia clearly 
accounted for most of this sharp gain. They mainly included second-hand cars and 
consumer electronics.

Armenia - Car carrier trailers line up near a customs terminal outside Gyumri, 
March 13, 2023
This explains why Armenian exports to Russia tripled in 2022 and doubled in 
January-August 2023. During the eight-month period, Russia generated half of 
Armenia’s overall export revenue worth $4.6 billion.

Used cars became Armenia’s number one export item in the first half of this 
year, according to data from the national customs service reported by Hetq.am. 
The South Caucasus country, which has no car industry, exported $311 million 
worth of various vehicles, circumventing U.S. and European Union bans on their 
shipments to Russia. Also, its first-half exports of mobile phones, TV sets and 
other electronics totaled $332 million.

The re-exports, coupled with other cash inflows from Russia, are the main reason 
why the Armenian economy expanded by 12 percent in 2022. The Armenian government 
and the Central Bank have forecast a 7 percent growth rate for this year.

The re-exports prompted concern from EU and especially U.S. officials earlier 
this year. They pressed the authorities in Yerevan to comply with the Western 
sanctions. The authorities introduced in May mandatory government licenses for 
shipments of microchips, transformers, video cameras, antennas and other 
electronic equipment to Russia.

Armenian Leaders Hit Back At Moscow

Armenia - Parliament speaker Alen SImonian chairs a session of the National 
Assembly, November 24, 2022.

Armenia’s political leadership rejected on Friday Russia’s latest claims that it 
is systematically “destroying” relations between the two longtime allies.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, made the claims on 
Thursday when she condemned a senior Armenian official’s participation in 
Western-backed peace talks on the conflict Ukraine and meeting with the chief of 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s staff. She called it a “demonstrative 
anti-Russian gesture of official Yerevan.”

Alen Simonian, the Armenian parliament speaker and a leading member of the 
ruling Civil Contract party, scoffed at Zakharova’s criticism. He suggested that 
Moscow does not want Yerevan to “communicate with partners on multilateral 
platforms” and is trying to maintain Armenia’s “existential dependence” on 

“This is apparently the ‘right allied’ approach,” Simonian wrote in a Telegram 

Echoing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s recent statements, Simonian also 
accused the Russians of not honoring their security commitments to Armenia and 
recalled their past large-scale arms deals with Azerbaijan.

Another member of Pashinian’s political team, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, 
dismissed Zakharova’s complaints that Armenia’s state television and other 
pro-government media outlets have been spreading “Russophobic” propaganda.

“We believe that what our Russian partners are surprised by is the consequence 
of what we have seen on various [Russian] airwaves,” Mirzoyan told Armenian 

He also said that the Armenian government hopes to mend fences with Moscow and 
“move on like partners.” “But not everything depends on one side,” added 

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier deplored “a series of unfriendly steps” 
taken by Pashinian’s administration. Those included his assertion Armenia’s 
military alliance with Russia has proved a “strategic mistakes” and Yerevan’s 
acceptance of jurisdiction of an international court that issued an arrest 
warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in March.

For its part, the Armenian side has held Moscow responsible for Azerbaijan’s 
recent military offensive that led to the mass of exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 
ethnic Armenian population.

The deepening rift is raising growing questions about Armenia’s continued 
membership in Russian-led defense and trade blocs. Pashinian said last week that 
he is not considering demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Armenia 
even if he it sees no “advantages” in their presence.

Armenia ‘Optimistic’ As Turkey’s Erdogan Insists On Corridor For Azerbaijan

        • Aza Babayan
        • Astghik Bedevian

Turkey - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from 
his ruling AK Party, Ankara, October 25, 2023.

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan sounded optimistic about the normalization of 
Armenia’s relations with Turkey on Friday just as Turkish President Erdogan 
Recep Tayyip again demanded that Yerevan open a special transport corridor for 

Speaking at a summit of the leaders of Turkic states in Kazakhstan, Erdogan 
hailed Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military operation that led to the exodus of 
Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population and restored Azerbaijani control 
over the territory.

“Azerbaijan put an end to the 30-year occupation of Karabakh and we are very 
happy with and proud of this historic achievement,” he said. “Armenia must 
fulfill its obligations to Azerbaijan. This includes the opening of a transport 
corridor that will connect Nakhichevan to western regions of Azerbaijan.”

Erdogan said the corridor sought by Baku is important also because it would link 
Turkey to Central Asia which he described as “our ancestral homeland.”

Ankara set this as a key precondition when it started normalization talks with 
Yerevan in early 2022. The Armenian government has ruled out any 
extraterritorial corridors to Nakhichevan that would pass through Armenia’s 
Syunik province bordering Iran.

The normalization process essentially stalled last year even though the two 
sides reached an agreement to open the Turkish-Armenian border for their 
diplomatic passport holders and citizens of third countries.

“I want to express optimism that we may have some good news on this front in the 
near future,” Mirzoyan told Armenian lawmakers. He did not elaborate.

Speaking in the National Assembly earlier this week, Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian similarly expressed hope that the border agreement will be implemented 

Pashinian attended Erdogan’s inauguration in June. His domestic critics 
denounced the move, saying that Ankara will not unconditionally normalize 
Turkish-Armenian relations even after his unilateral concessions.

Another interim agreement reached by Turkish and Armenian negotiators last year 
called for air freight traffic between the two neighboring nations. There have 
been no signs of its implementation, even though the Turkish government 
officially allowed cargo shipments by air to and from Armenia in January 2023.

German FM Calls For Renewed Armenian-Azeri Talks

        • Nane Sahakian

Armenia - German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at a news conference with 
her Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan, November 3, 2023.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to 
resume peace talks mediated by the European Union when she visited Yerevan on 

“Germany supports the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and this 
must be the basis for all peace negotiations,” Baerbock said after meeting with 
her Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.

“I believe that European Council President Charles Michel’s efforts could serve 
as a bridge for establishing peace between the two countries. Therefore, the 
start of a new round of negotiations is important,” she told a joint news 

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 
had been scheduled to meet, together with Michel, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz 
and French President Emmanuel Macron, in Spain on October 5. Aliyev withdrew 
from the talks at the last minute, citing pro-Armenian statements made by French 

Michel said afterwards that the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders will likely 
hold a trilateral meeting with him in Brussels later in October. That meeting 
did not take place either.

A senior Armenian lawmaker suggested on Monday that Aliyev is now reluctant to 
hold further talks with Pashinian to finalize an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace 
accord backed by the EU and the United States. The deal would commit Baku to 
explicitly recognizing Armenia’s current borders.

“Unfortunately, we still have serious concerns that … Azerbaijan still has, in 
one way or another, territorial claims to Armenia,” Mirzoyan said during the 
press conference with Baerbock.

There are lingering fears in Yerevan that Azerbaijan could invade Armenia to 
open a land corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave. Baerbock, who was due to 
proceed to Azerbaijan on Saturday, declined to say whether Germany would support 
a freeze on imports of Azerbaijani gas and oil or other EU sanctions against 
Baku in the event of such invasion. She spoke out against any further 
“escalation in this region.”

The German minister was also careful not to repeat her earlier condemnations of 
Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that forced the 
region’s ethnic Armenian population to flee to Armenia. She said only that the 
more than 100,000 Karabakh Armenians “left their homeland for security reasons” 
and praised the Armenian government’s response to the exodus. Baerbock also 
announced that Berlin will provide 9.3 million euros ($10 million) in additional 
humanitarian aid to the refugees.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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