By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian parliament cancelled late Wednesday a crucial vote on a multi-partisan motion to revoke the Greek-owned ArmenTel operator's monopoly on telecommunications services after a last-minute intervention from the government. The main author of the initiative, Orinats Yerkir party leader Artur Baghdasarian, agreed to withdraw it from the parliament agenda after an appeal from Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
Orinats Yerkir, backed by most of the other parliaments factions, proposed legislative amendments that would abrogate ArmenTel's 15-year exclusive rights to the telecom market. They would also prevent the Armenian subsidiary of the Hellenic Telecommunications monopoly from introducing a new system of payments that would lead to a major rise in telephone fees.
Addressing the National Assembly, Transport and Telecommunications Minister Yervand Zakharian said both measures would be "untimely" now that the government is negotiating with the ArmenTel management on the issue. The cabinet agreed instead to the creation of a parliamentary commission overseeing its "activities in the sphere of telecommunications."
The legislators will decide next September whether to return the issue of monopoly and phone tariffs to the parliament agenda. The decision will be based on the findings of the commission.