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Opposition Politician To Lead Telecom Inquiry


By Emil Danielyan

Vazgen Manukian, leader of the opposition National Democratic Union (AZhM), was on Tuesday elected chairman of a special parliamentary commission that will scrutinize the Armenian government’s activities in the telecommunications sector. The commission’s creation late last month marked a new twist in the prolonged dispute between the authorities and the Greek management of the ArmenTel monopoly. Its twelve members represent all factions and non-partisan groups of the National Assembly.

According to Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker of the parliament, the commission will not only assess the government’s handling of the telecom sector but also verify the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s (OTE) compliance with the terms of its purchase of ArmenTel in 1998. OTE has been accused of failure to invest $100 million in its Armenian subsidiary as was required by the takeover agreement.

The state-controlled Greek company vehemently denies the allegations, saying that the amount of its investments so far in fact stands at $127 million. ArmenTel’s new CEO, Nikos Georgioulas insisted on Friday that the amount of per-capita OTE investments in Armenia is four times higher than in other countries of Eastern Europe where the Greek firm also has subsidiaries.

A separate commission formed by the government earlier this year has already been examining the credibility of the OTE figures.
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