By Ruben Meloyan
In what is seen as the first step towards establishing direct trade links between Yerevan and Ankara, a senior Armenian government official has announced his side’s readiness to start supplying electricity to neighboring Turkey as early as next March.
Armen Movsisian, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, told reporters on Monday that under the agreement reached between the Armenian and Turkish sides in September, the technical part of the process was to be completed within six months. He added that the export of Armenian electricity to Turkey might begin already on March 1 if Ankara managed to complete all required technical and legal arrangements by that date.
According to Movsisian, the reported rate of infrastructure rehabilitation work shows the Turkish side is well on schedule.
“A few days ago we received information from the Turkish side that the work is in its due course,” the Armenian minister said. “We don’t have any major work to be done on our part and expect to start the export of electricity at the planned time.”
Under the agreement signed between Armenia’s Energy Ministry, the Armenian Electricity Networks CJSC and the Turkish UNIT Company, beginning in early 2009 Armenia is to start supplying 1.5 billion kilowatt per hour of electricity a year, eventually increasing the annual volume of supplies to 3.5 KW/h.
The deal became possible due to the recent fence-mending talks between the leaders of the two estranged nations who thus made the first step towards improving the historically strained Armenian-Turkish relations.
Its announcement came days after the first-ever visit of a Turkish head of state to Armenia. Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul had responded to his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian’s invitation to attend a World Cup qualifier between the two countries’ soccer teams in Yerevan on September 6, which kick-started a series of high-level meetings between the two countries’ officials believed to pursue the ultimate goal of establishing diplomatic relations, opening the hitherto closed border and promoting direct trade.
The price of supplied electricity, according to Armenian Energy Ministry officials, will be economically effective depending on thermal energy and gas prices. According to current estimates, it may make 5.7 cents per kilowatt.