By Emil Danielyan
Russia is likely to write off Armenia’s entire $94 million debt in exchange for obtaining control of five state-run Armenian enterprises, a key negotiator of the planned swap agreement announced on Monday.
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who represents Armenia in the ongoing negotiations with the Russian government, told reporters that the assets-for-debt deal will be signed “within a month.”
The Armenian government on Thursday formally approved the list of the enterprises that will be transferred to Russian control in payment for its debt to Moscow. The servicing of the Russian budget has been a substantial drain on its scarce resources.
According to Sarkisian, experts from the two governments are still evaluating the market value of the Armenian companies and have yet to agree on how much each of them costs. But he said he believes that the Russians will write off the whole of the debt because “our primary goal is to put those enterprises back on track, and that is in the interests of the Russian side.”
The businesses in question are Armenia’s largest thermal power plant located in the central town of Hrazdan, an electronics factory in Yerevan and three research institutes that used to work for the Soviet defense industry.