Parliamentary representatives of Armenia’s leading opposition forces deplored on Friday the $51 million sale of a historic government building in central Yerevan.
The building that houses the Armenian ministries of foreign affairs, energy and local government has been sold to a little-known private firm reportedly owned by Argentine-Armenian businessman Eduardo Eurnekian. Under the deal disclosed by the government on Thursday, the company is to construct a new office building for these and two other ministries by September 2015.
The government will pay for the construction with proceeds from the sale. It has declined to specify the likely cost of the project so far.
Aghvan Vartanian, a senior lawmaker from the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), criticized what he called a lack of transparency in the complex deal, while acknowledging that the stated takeover price looks reasonable.
Vartanian complained that the government has failed to clearly explain the wisdom of the entire transaction. It has not publicized the main parameters of the future building or specified how much will be spent on its construction, he said.
“Clearly, the public, including the National Assembly and its deputies, are not informed about details of the deal,” Vartanian told a news conference. He said Dashnaktsutyun’s five-member parliamentary faction will demand that a parliament committee on economic affairs hold hearings on the issue. Relevant government officials must testify at those hearings, he added.
Aram Manukian, a deputy from the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), said he is against the deal in principle. “From now, I will have no respect for the government,” he told reporters. “I would like the [main] government building, along with the people occupying it, to be [sold] next.”
“These people have no value system,” he said. “It was simply inadmissible to do such a thing.”
Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), dismissed these objections. “We should learn to trust the government,” he said.