By Aza Babayan in Moscow
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian paid a one-day working visit to Moscow on Friday that was expected to focus on economic issues and, in particular, Russia’s promised anti-crisis assistance to Armenia.
Sarkisian was meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin late in the evening after holding talks with the governor of the Russian Central Bank, Sergey Ignatiev, and Igor Levitin, the Russian co-chairman of an inter-governmental commission on bilateral economic cooperation. He was due to discuss with them, among other issues, the terms of a $500 million loan that Moscow has pledged to provide to Yerevan with the aim of helping it cope with the global economic crisis, which is hitting the Armenian economy increasingly hard.
Meeting with Moscow-based Armenian businessmen earlier in the day, Sarkisian said the loan will be disbursed in March but did not specify how his government plans to spend it. He also outlined the government’s broader strategy of mitigating the effects of the global downturn. The government will not only seek to stimulate the economy with external loans but also strengthen the rule of law, he said, describing government corruption as a serious hurdle to Armenia’s economic development.
The prime minister also urged the entrepreneurs, may of them born in Armenia, to invest more heavily in his country. “Welcome back to Armenia,” he said, claiming that many Armenians are already returning home because of worsened economic conditions in Russia.