By Atom Markarian
The chairman of Russia’s Central Bank, Viktor Gerashchenko, spoke out against the idea of a single currency for the Commonwealth of Independent States during a visit to Armenia on Saturday.
The idea was first floated by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a proponent of close economic integration among the twelve ex-Soviet states forming the loose grouping. But it is not popular with most CIS countries, including Armenia.
Gerashchenko argued that the Russian and other CIS economies are not prepared for the introduction of a single currency. He said the Russian currency, the ruble, can perform a similar role, but only after it becomes fully convertible in the international financial markets.
The main focus of Gerashchenko’s meetings with his Armenian counterpart Tigran Sarkisian and President Robert Kocharian was activities of the CIS Interstate Bank, founded in 1993. The chief Russian banker is the chairman of its board of trustees.
Kocharian said he supports expansion of the bank’s operations and regards it as a promising source of funding for major investment projects in Armenia.