IMF Doubles Armenia 2010 GDP Growth View To 4 Pct

Hasmik Lazarian

Interactive Investor
May 19 2010

YEREVAN, May 19 (Reuters) – The Armenian economy could grow as much as
4 percent in 2010, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday,
doubling its original forecast for the former Soviet republic and
promising it better loan terms.

Armenia’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 14.4 percent in 2009
due to a sharp fall in remittances and exports, a steep contraction in
the construction sector and a recession in close economic ally Russia.

"Growth is expected to rebound in 2010, external inflows are picking
up and public finances have improved," Mark Lewis, the IMF mission
chief, told reporters after completion of the Fund’s two-week visit
to the country.

"We revised our forecasts. For the GDP, in particular, growth will
be around 4 percent."

Armenia is currently drawing on an $823 million loan from the IMF,
of which it has already received $532 million.

Lewis said the rest of the current loan and some additional money —
to the total amount of $392 million — would be disbursed on more
concessionary terms, with the loan facility extended until 2013.

Lewis said the IMF mission and the government reached an agreement
under a new loan facility, which is to be approved by the Fund’s
board at the end of June.

Armenian’s GDP rose by 5.5 percent in the first quarter of this year in
comparison with a 6.1 percent contraction in the same period last year.

The IMF’s revised GDP forecast is more optimistic than the 2010
budget, which sees modest 1.2 percent economic growth, although
Armenian authorities believe it might be twice as much.

The budget sees 2010 inflation at 4.0 percent plus/minus 1.5 percentage
points. Last year, prices rose by 6.5 percent.

"Inflation has remained high due to various supply shocks, but should
come down gradually over the course of 2010… For the year it will
be 6 percent," Lewis said.

Lewis praised the government for a gradual reducing the budget
deficit. The IMF recommends reducing fiscal deficit to 6.0 percent
of the GDP in 2010 from 7.5 percent in 2009.

(Reporting by Hasmik Lazarian; writing by Margarita Antidze in
Tbilisi, editing by Jason Webb) Keywords: ARMENIA IMF/

A Repatriate’s Plea: The Formation Of Civil Society Is Key

Inga Martinyan

2010/05/17 | 15:14

Feature Stories society

"Armenians must stop the self-delusion and get to work"

In 2001, Armineh Arakelyan and her mother left Sweden and moved to
Armenia. Armineh says it was a conscious move and that they were
motivated by a sense of belonging and responsibility rather than
pure emotionalism.

"I have tasted what it’s like yo be on the outside; one isn’t a full
person. There are people for whom material possessions are primary;
you must own a house, a car, a good job and food to eat. You only
go around once in life. If you are going to lead half a life, then
what good is it? I feel a responsibility to share what I have learned
with Armenia. I will stay in Armenia until the time when I feel that
I am no longer of use or when I am prevented from doing what needs to
be done. If a repressive regime comes to power, then I will probably
leave," says Armineh.

Prior to her leaving Amenia in 1999, she had set up the Institute for
Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR), an NGO. The name implies what the
organizations aims were.

Armineh was born in Tehran and spent the first twenty years of her life
in Iran. She then studi9es in London. She has worked as an attorney
and in the political arena in Europe, Africa and Asia for eighteen
years. She is a citizen of France. After arriving in Armenia, Armineh
first lived in Yerevan. She now resides in the village of Mughni,
some twenty kilometers outside the capital. She comes to Yerevan
about twice a week.

"You decide your citizenship. I have an Armenian upbringing. Armenia
had just gained its independence at the time and we had to assist in
its establishment. I need everything to hold my head high and retain
my dignity when I cam to Armenia, to teach the young generation and to
help shape a civil society. I didn’t want to get into commerce. It’s
not my thing. There is no real society in Armenia. Rather, there
is a system of entrenched egoism and serfdom. You either have to
subordinate yourself to the powers that be and hang your head low or
else mimic them," says Armineh.

She turned over the reins of IHDR to the young generation in 2008,
but she still assists as an advisor.

"At least we have made some success on a micro-level. It’s tough
for the new generation to live her in Armenia. I always tell them to
go overseas, get an education and experience, and then come back,"
she says.

With her professional skills, Armineh has also sought to help out
in community matters. She tells me about the two year struggle they
waged to stop an electrical sub-station from being built next to the
Cascade. "They said ‘we will shoot you. WE have three pistols’.

Residents in the building never returned to their homes at night to
sleep. They were that frightened. The guy who organized the terror
campaign was the former police chief. My dignity was wounded." Now,
she is trying to resolve community issues in Mughni and, as Armineh
puts it, to pull it out of the 15th century.

"I have always loved to live in the bosom of nature. I looked around
at some places outside Yerevan and fell in love with Mughni. I bought
a house in the "Sumgait" neighborhood. The area is quite depressed.

But I fixed up the house in a modest way. There are trees in the yard.

I have my animals to tend and I work in the garden. I walk through
the village and dispense free legal advice," she says.

She also provides advisory services on the internet. Recently, she
was offered a top job in Geneva, but she turned it down.

"I am a person who dreams and my primary desire is to be able to
lead a dignified life here in my homeland. Humanity has moved far
from nature. Nature imparts strength and spiritual calm.. Otherwise
you go nuts. I lead a full and rich life here. I experience both pain
and joy , and struggle."

She says that if you want to change something, you have to come,
enjoy and get to work. You can’t change things from afar, in a sort
of virtual reality. "There are some who are what I call ‘passport’
Armenians. Wherever one lives, they must live to the fullest. If
one lives in France, at least immerse yourself in the country, get
to know it and the people. Don’t just go to make ‘kebab’. And what
about those who have gone to the United States and have formed their
little ghetto, Los Armenos. When a singer visits from Armenia, the
people get emotional and weep. Why weep? These people want the best
of both worlds. You get these diaspora Armenians who come to Armenia
and complain, ‘they have littered here and there". Well them, come
here and fix things. It’s better not to come at all if you are just
a casual observer passing through. They have gone off to make money.

Well then, I say go and make your money already. Why do you continue
to pine about Armenia. What do you miss, the ‘kebab’?

"The prime challenge facing Armenians is nation building"

"Time is working against the diaspora. One cannot maintain their
identity overseas. Generations are being lost. Being Armenian
must be maintained differently. The first thing one must do is to
establish a self-identity, to understand what one has inherited from
the past. But we just engage in feasting on ‘kebab and khorovadz" and
making speeches regarding Genocide recognition. It’s not enough. What
does this offer to a young Armenians living in Paris. He or she is
doing the very same things as their grandparents, from the impetus
based on tradition." This, in Armineh’s opinion, results from the
fact that just as Armenia isn’t following the path of nation building,
so too isn’t the diaspora.

"The main issue for Armenians is the establishment of a state polity.

We have all the formal trappings, a flag and emblem but the essence
is missing. The base for any state is the citizenry, not the
passport. We must be able to educate citizens, from the kids to the
state bureaucrats. They all must understand that this public space
belongs to them. They must feel its pain and be motivated to improve
conditions, rather than to steal and pilfer for personal gain." In
her opinion, if we are incapable of establishing our state, then
we will disappear like the Assyrians or wind up being colonized by
another nation.

"Just as we are, to a certain extent, the colony of Russia today. What
do we have that is ours? The public services? The political forces? If
you are not a legitimate government ten you will be forced to listen
to what others dictate. You will have to listen to the Russians. To
some degree, we are also a colony of the World Bank and the West. We
have a massive external debt. No wonder we are not progressing.

Armineh believes that in order to gauge the rate of development of
any country, one must look to see how the very young and seniors on
pensions are making out. "One day we will also retire. You can’t live
on 20,000 AMD per month."

It is the nature of Armenia that has amazed Armineh the most. She says
we have the luxury of enjoying all four seasons and the possibility
of experiencing a variety of climatic landscapes.

While comparing Armenia with her former places of residence, Armineh
notes that what infuriates her the most here is the extreme degree
of self bravado and boasting. "We do not accept the reality of what
we are. Hey, accept what you are in order to change for the better.

Otherwise, keep repeating the mantra that ‘I am so great, I am 4,000
years old, I am this and that’. But in reality, you live a pretty
primitive life. We boast that others were hopping around in the forest
while we had Tigran the Great. But today, they are no longer in the
forest, we are. In Africa, they are conscious of their poverty."

Armineh believes what is lacking in Armenia is "public consciousness".

She cotes examples fro Sweden, where local city officials can be
sacked just for not seeing that the garbage is collected on time.

"We are very akin to the Middle East. We are similar in character,
lifestyle and customs. In Latin America and Africa there was a
protracted process to obtain independence. They struggled to obtain it
while it was granted to us. The Soviet Union collapsed and we became
independent. That’s why we do not savor it. In Africa, people may lead
a more rural, agriculture-based existence without the luxury of TV’s
and other conveniences, but at least they preserve their traditions.

Here in Armenia, it’s an anti-culture, starting with the TV and ending
with what you eat."

Abrahamyan, Gryzlov Talk On Phone

18.05.2010 11:02

Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Hovik Abrahamyan had a
phone conversation with the Chairman of the Russian State Duma,
Boris Gzizlov.

The parties discussed issues related to inter-parliamentary
cooperation, including the sitting of the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Collective Security Treaty Organization to be held in Yerevan on
May 31.

Turkish Prime Minister: "It Is Impossible For Us To Remain Indiffere


May 17 2010

Baku – APA. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev informed the Turkish
Prime Minister Receb Tayyib Erdogan about the process of solution to
Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

Erdogan said at a press conference in Baku that Azerbaijan always
took constructive position in the negotiations, APA reports quoting
CNN Turk. "Azerbaijan positively accepted new proposals by the OSCE
Minsk Group, but Armenia didn’t response to those proposals. We also
held some meetings on this issue during the nuclear security summit.

Unfortunately we saw same reaction at these meetings as well. But we
will continue our resolute policy. The Minsk Group troika has also
to show resolution and not to leave this work".

The Turkish Prime Minister said they have discussed the Nagorno
Karabakh conflict during the Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev’s
visit to Turkey. "We discussed this issue with Obama and Sarkozy
earlier. We will continue our sensible approach to this problem. It
is impossible for us to remain indifferent in this problem. We will
always watch this process closely".

ArmInfo-STAR Dining-Table Index Amounted To 141,50 In April 2010


2010-05-17 17:32:00

ArmInfo. ArmInfo-STAR dining-table index for 50 the most popular food
products in STAR net of supermarkets amounted to 141,50 in April 2010
as against the basic index in February 2009. If compared with March
the index grew by 25,83 points, i.e. more than in March of compared
with February. The number of customers grew by 7,4% as against April
2009. The average sum of purchase fell by 5,5%.

The average using of bread reduced by about 16% if compared with
April 2009. As for the three main types of bread (360 gr matnakash,
lavash and loaf of bread) their using is gradually falling over the
last three months. Growing of the bread prices since March is much
conditioned by raising of the gas tariffs since 1 April. This year
there was no growing of the dairy products’ prices which in 2009
coincided with reduction of the Armenian dram exchange rate. In
general, dairy products’ prices remained unchanged and in March 2010
even reduced by 6-7% if compared with February. Consumption of the
dairy products grew after the March falling of their prices (from 6%
up to 50% depending on the type of product).

Consumption of beef has grown since the beginning of the year although
its price grew by 20% in February- April. Consumption of fresh
chicken grew in April almost twofold as against March. As for the
‘Lori’ cheese, its consumption grew by about 60% from March to April.

Consumption of vegetables and greenery (estragon, cabbages, tomatoes,
and cucumbers) remains quite strongly depending on the price. As
compared with April 2009, estragon in STAR network is sold almost
twice as cheaper; respectively its consumption has grown by 20%.

Consumption of cabbages fell twice, the price growth being
approximately 2.5 times. As regards tomatoes, their 30% drop in price
to 1 thsd AMD has increased its consumption by over 90%. Cucumbers
have also grown in consumption (by 34%) though their price remains
the same – about 810 AMD.

The readers probably remember the leap in orange consumption in
February. At that time oranges fell in price only by 60-70 AMD (to
410 AMD), and consumption leaped thrice. The "triumph" of oranges was
not long: by April their price grew to 700 AMD, and consumption fell
even lower than in February. A similar leap was registered for bananas.

With another growth in prices the consumption of bananas also was
reduced (but not in such volumes as oranges).

The meat consumption trend allows supposing that gradual growth in
population revenues gives birth first of all to demand for meat. As
regards fruits and vegetables, (for instance, cabbages), their
consumption continues more or less depending on the price.

Czechia Interested In Cooperation With Armenia


May 17, 2010 – 19:14 AMT 14:14 GMT

Armenian-Czech business forum was held May 17 in Yerevan within the
framework of Prime Minister Jan Fischer’s visit to Armenia.

The forum hosted over 40 companies engaged in construction, energy,
financial and IT spheres.

"Despite increasing turnover between our countries, there’s still
untapped potential we hope to develop through the assistance of such
meetings," Armenian Development Agency CEO Robert Harutyunyan stated
at forum opening.

Czech Manufacturers Union President, delegation head Jaroslaw Khana,
in turn, noted, "Czechia is interested in cooperation with Armenia,
offering investments in various spheres: manufacturing, energy,
food industry as well as agriculture and tourism."

Deputy Minister of Economy and Trade of the Czech Republic Milan
Hovorka added, "Having major experience in investment sphere, Czechia,
as EU member, can serve as bridge between Armenia and European Union."

Armenia-Czechia turnover comprised USD 16,7 million in 2009. Imported
and exported production included confectionery, paper, ceramics,
glassware, black metal and surface carriers.

The business forum was organized by Armenian Development Agency in
collaboration with RA.

Four Winners Of "Hello Oslo" SMS Quiz Will Fly To Oslo


May 17 2010

The representative of Armenia at Eurovision 2010 Eva Rivas met on
May 16th the four winners of the "Hello Oslo" SMS quiz and the best
authors of the SMS campaign "Supporting Armenia". Four winners of the
SMS-quiz received from Eva the vouchers for trips to Oslo, for the
semi-final and final of Eurovision. The first stage of the SMS quiz
is over, but the contest is still in process. Those participants,
who have not won the first stage, will continue playing till May
25th. The best 125 participants of the second stage will receive many
presents from Orange.

Â" We are happy to be the partner of such a popular European music
contest, and especially give our customers the possibility to become
the direct participants of this big event. I am sure these young people
will make unforgettable trip, and I am very glad to know that this
prize is the reward for their knowledge in the sphere of music. I am
also sure that with our joint efforts Armenia will get high scores",
said Bruno Duthoit, Orange Armenia CEO.

Â" We will do everything to make this Eurovision event a real feast
for Armenia. The SMS-quiz gave the possibility to four winners to fly
to Oslo, but for those who will stay in Armenia Eurovision will also
become a big event", said Aram Lazarian, Orange Armenia Marketing

On Orange initiative, Yerevan will also implement Eurovision’s
FlashMob dance like 10 other cities which will host the largest
FlashMob event in the Europe. Already a special Eurovision 2010
FlashMob Dance (Armenia) group has been created on Facebook where
the tutorial videos of the dance are posted. The place and time of
Yerevan FlashMob are for the moment kept in secrecy, in order to make
the event as spontaneous as possible.

Moreover, very soon in addition to the official video of "Apricot
Stone" TV will also broadcast a non-official video of the song,
where habitants of different cities and villages of Armenia have been
lip-dubbing. The lip-dub video, in line with "together we can do more"
signature of Orange, calls to support Armenia all together.

"It’s not all. First time in the two biggest cities of Armenia Orange
has initiated a public screening of the Eurovision, which will allow
to support Armenia together", said Aram Lazarian, Orange Armenia
Marketing Director. Orange promises that the days of Eurovision
semi-final and final will become unforgettable for the habitants of
Yerevan and Gumri due to colorful and various activities. More, Yerevan
will host an unprecedented "Eurovision" concert with the participation
of previous Eurovision participants from different countries.

The championship of the highest group in Armenia: the 8th round

Aysor, Armenia
May 15 2010

The championship of the highest group in Armenia: the 8th round

In the frameworks of the football match of the highest group of
Armenian football took place the meeting of the 8th round. `Pyunik’ of
Yerevan hosted `Shirak’ of Gyumri which has had only defeats in the
championship. The players of Gyumri again couldn’t confront and lost
with 1:4 points. Gevorg Ghzaryan became the owner of the hat-trick.
The first goal was with Andranik Barikyan’s.

`Pyunik’-`Shirak’ 4:1
Yerevan, `Republican’ stadium

Armenians Will Welcome Erdogan With Protest In Athens: Zaman


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is starting his two-day
visit to Greece.

According to local Turkish daily Zaman the Greeks and the Armenians
are planning to organize a protest against Erdogan. As part of the
protest they will also march to the Greek Parliament and Turkey’s
embassy in Athens.

In Athens the police are taking extraordinary measure for Erdogan’s

Further Zaman mentions that security measures have been strengthened
also in Turkey’s embassy in Athens and in the vicinity of Turkish
companies there.

Turkish MP is expected to discuss bilateral relations with Greek
authorities. He will also deliver a speech at a Greek-Turkish economic

BAKU: Abasov: If NK Conflict Is Not Solved Peacefully, Azerbaijan Wi


May 14 2010

Baku – APA. Azerbaijan’s Minister of Agriculture Ismet Abasov, who is
attending the conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in
Yerevan, expressed the country’s position on Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

APA reports quoting the Radio Liberty that the Minister told Armenian
journalists that Azerbaijan wishes peaceful solution to the conflict.

"Your and our leaders wish to solve the conflict peacefully. But if
the conflict is not solved peacefully, Azerbaijan will begin to seek
for alternative variants and in this context the military variant is
not excluded," he said.