In an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” millionaire businessman Mikhail Baghdasarov denies speculation that the Armenian authorities have initiated a fresh redistribution of some of Armenia’s most lucrative businesses through blackmail and pressure. “As far as I know, everyone continues to do his business and I know nothing about a redistribution of economic spheres,” he says. Baghdasarov, whose Mika Limited company, enjoys a de facto monopoly on fuel imports to Armenia, claims that government connections are not needed for doing business in Armenia. But he does not rule out the possibility of being forced out of business in the event of regime change in Yerevan. “If democratic, progressive forces come to power I am sure that my business will stay on,” he says.
“Aravot” editorializes that the pre-election developments in Azerbaijan are following the Armenian scenario, with the authorities planning a massive vote rigging and the opposition desperately trying to thwart it. “It is not the worst option because at least in Armenia’s case a group of high-ranking officials have recently integrated into the European civilization in Monte Carlo,” the paper says sarcastically, referring to rumors about Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s latest gambling exploits.
According to ”Aravot,” the Audit Chamber of the Armenian parliament has found that the owners of 17 out of 44 enterprises privatized in Armenia in the past 18 months failed to honor their investment commitments. “From time to time, at least once a year, this structure shocks our imagination with findings of its inspections, detecting violations in the budget’s implementation and creating the impression that that crucial sphere is under its control,” the paper says. “But the thing is that their task is to detect violations and report them to the high-level leadership. Then the conclusions are thrown into the trash bin and citizens are once again convinced that the budget is plundered. That means one can continue to plunder and cheat.”
The chairman of the Central Bank, Tigran Sarkisian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that inflation in Armenia was well above the bank’s projections in the first half of this year. He attributes that to an unexpected rise in the price of bread and belated agricultural harvests. Sarkisian says the renewed increase in bread prices will further push inflation up. “But it’s now hard to forecast how long-lasting the rise in prices will be.”
“Azg” quotes Armenia’s representative to the Istanbul headquarters of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization, Arsen Avagian, as saying that many Turkish politicians still do not know how to go about normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations. “Turkish-Armenian relations are a complicated issues for Turkish political circles,” he says. Avagian says there has been no “strategic change” in Ankara’s Armenian policy under the current Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.