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Fotolur photo: Igor Mikaelian, an Armenian medical student, showing off a precious gift from President Robert Kocharian.


By Shakeh Avoyan

President Robert Kocharian said on Friday that Armenia has experienced “unprecedented” economic growth under his five-year rule which could “very soon” translate into a marked improvement of low living standards.

“Armenia has never had such good economic indicators before,” he told several hundreds of the State Medical University, one of Armenia’s most prestigious institutes of higher education.

The need to maintain Armenia’s “political stability” and “continue reforms” was the central theme of Kocharian’s discourse at the meeting with the medical students which appeared to be part of his unfolding election campaign. The president warned indirectly that his failure to win reelection in February would bring to power “populist” opposition forces that would ruin the economy.

Kocharian cited the latest official statistics which show the Armenian economy growing by 11 percent in the first nine months of the year. Responding to a student’s remark that most Armenians have yet to feel tangible improvements in their life, he said that several more years of rapid growth are needed to make a difference.

Another student challenged Kocharian to prove his largesse when he asked the head of state to give away his expensive Swiss-made watch as a present. “I have never received gifts from any president,” Igor Mikaelian said bluntly .

Mikaelian’s audacious request was immediately satisfied to the delight of the audience. Kocharian remarked that his Longines watch is “much more modest than a Rolex” which he said he does not have.
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