Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosian also deserves credit for robust economic growth that was registered during his successor Robert Kocharian’s rule, a member of the current Armenian government said on Thursday.
The Armenian economy expanded at double-digit rates from 2001 until the onset of a global financial crisis in late 2008, several months after Kocharian completed his second and final term in office. The economy plunged into severe recession in 2009 before resuming its growth at far more modest rates. Kocharian has emphasized this fact in his increasingly serious criticism of the current government’s economic policies.
According to Economy Minister Vahram Avanesian, the double-digit growth was made possible by free-market reforms launched by the Ter-Petrosian administration in the 1990s. “It resulted not only from reforms carried out at that time [during Kocharian’s rule]. The reforms had begun under the first president,” he told a news conference.
“Many reforms produce results within fiver or even ten years. Their impact is more long-term,” said Avanesian, who held senior government positions during Ter-Petrosian’s 1991-1998 presidency.
The minister, who will turn 52 on Saturday, also echoed Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s claims that the Kocharian-era growth was not sustainable because it was primarily driven by a construction boom. He said he himself warned of that back in 2006-2007.
Sarkisian called that boom a “bubble” late last month, provoking an angry reaction from Kocharian. The ex-president blamed a continuing crisis in the construction sector on out-migration of people from Armenia and high mortgage lending rates resulting from slower growth.
Unlike the premier, Avanesian acknowledged that some of Kocharian’s arguments are valid. “Obviously, mortgage lending in Armenia has still not reached a point where it can strongly [and positively] affect the construction sector,” he said.