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Investment Row Continues Despite ArmenTel Fee Cuts


By Shakeh Avoyan

The ArmenTel operator’s decision to reduce some of its key telecommunication tariffs must not save the Greek-owned monopoly from a legal battle with the Armenian government over the amount of its capital investments, a senior government official said on Friday.

Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian said the two sides remain divided over the issue despite recent moves to improve their relations.

ArmenTel announced last week that it will cut the price of external and mobile phone calls as well as the Internet connection with the outside world. The move was seen as an attempt to ease its long-running tensions with the government.

But Manukian made it clear that a bitter row over the ArmenTel investments in Armenia, the bone of contention, remains unresolved and requires a court action. “That is a contentious issue,” he told reporters. “It has not been removed from our agenda.”

“We are not abandoning our principles. Nor is ArmenTel abandoning its principles,” he added. “The problem must be resolved in a judicial manner.”

The government claims that ArmenTel’s parent company, OTE, has failed to honor its contractual obligation to invest $100 million in the Armenian telecom sector by June 2001. The Greek firm insists that it has already invested more than $140 million.

Manukian has said previously that the government will have a case for scrapping ArmenTel’s legal monopoly on telecom services in Armenia if its fraud charges are endorsed by the court. He did not specify whether Yerevan is prepared to see the case considered by an international economic court.
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