By Hovannes Shoghikian
The military conflict between Russia and Georgia has inflicted nearly $680 million worth of damage on Armenia’s economy heavily reliant on Georgian territory, a senior Armenian official said on Wednesday.
Artur Baghdasarian, secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council, said the figure, equivalent to one quarter of the country’s 2008 state budget, is based on “calculations” done by government experts.
“As a result of this Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, damage has been inflicted on the Republic of Armenia,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL. “We worked in an emergency regime during those several days to ensure continued cargo shipments, being in close touch with the security councils of both Russia and Georgia.”
Baghdasarian’s remarks appeared to be in conflict with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s earlier assurances that the economic cost of the Russian-Georgian conflict for Armenia has been minimal. Sarkisian strongly criticized last week Armenian opposition leaders and media that claimed the opposite.
“Has our society felt any upheavals, have the day-to-day lives of our citizens been disrupted in the past three weeks? Of course not,” he said.
Landlocked Armenia uses Georgia’s east-west railway, roads and Black Sea ports for carrying out at least 70 percent of its external trade. Cargo traffic through those transport routes was seriously complicated by Georgia’s ill-fated August 8 attempt to retake South Ossetia, which sparked a massive Russian counteroffensive.
Armenia experienced serious fuel shortages following the August 16 explosion on a rail bridge in central Georgia that disrupted rail traffic through the war-stricken nation. Large-scale supplies of fuel and other basic commodities to Armenia resumed through another Georgian rail bridge, prepared for temporary use, only eleven days later.