Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian lambasted some members of his cabinet on Thursday after they apparently greeted with skepticism an upbeat statement on the economic situation in Armenia made by Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian.
Chshmaritian addressed fellow ministers before they approved the government’s “new investment policy concept” envisaging more economic reforms and further government efforts to improve the country’s business environment. It contains a set of legislative and administrative measures meant to serve that purpose.
Presenting the document, Chshmaritian insisted that overall foreign investments in the Armenian economy will grow in 2015 despite official statistics for the first half of the year indicating an opposite trend. The claim appeared to have prompted ironic smiles or other expressions of skepticism from some government members present at the meeting.
Abrahamian immediately berated them. “Why are you so excited?” he said. “Because he is saying good things or his statement is not trustworthy? What is the reason?”
“I believe that Mr. Chshmaritian’s statements are absolutely founded, and if some people don’t like it that’s their internal and external problem,” added Abrahamian.
Journalists watched the cabinet meeting from monitors placed in an adjacent room, and it was not clear which officials annoyed the premier. The extraordinary incident may stoke media speculation that Abrahamian does not trust some of his ministers or lacks their full backing.
Chshmaritian, meanwhile, claimed after the meeting that he did not see or hear any negative reactions from his colleagues. He also insisted that the policy framework approved by the cabinet will help Armenia to attract more badly needed investments.
“If we hadn’t hoped that this document will help to boost investments then we would not have adopted the concept and asked international organizations to ensure its conformity with international standards in the first place,” Chshmaritian told reporters.