By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian parliament is to debate legislation which, if approved, will enable the government to set a precedent of the first-ever expropriation of private property in post-Soviet Armenia. The ministry of justice submitted the bill after the government failed to reach agreement with village residents whose houses it wants to tear down to build a new section of the highway running southwest of Yerevan.
The two houses in the village of Argavand just outside the capital are home to seven families and, together with adjacent gardens, cover an area of 400 square meters. The residents have rejected as insufficient government offers of compensation, which they say averaged $3,000 per household. Parliament sources told RFE/RL that the government was ready to pay a total of $27,000.
The bill pending debate in the assembly would allow the executive to take the case to court, which would then be able to decide the size of the compensation. The Armenian constitution allows for the expropriation of private property by the state “only in exceptional cases, on the basis of law and with an appropriate compensation.” The absence of such a law gives real estate owners the final say in payment disputes.
The bill in question will be discussed by the National Assembly next week. The parliament committee on finance and economy has already approved it.