Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian promised continued economic assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh as he presided over a joint meeting of the Armenian and Karabakh governments in Stepanakert at the weekend.
“The Armenian economy, which stands by Nagorno-Karabakh, can solve any problem,” he said. “We are ready to confront any challenge. And that gives us reason to hope that all those programs that were devised by the Nagorno-Karabakh government for 2010 will be fully implemented.”
Sarkisian stressed the fact that Armenia last year did not cut its annual financial assistance to Stepanakert, which totaled 33 billion drams (about $90 million), despite a serious shortfall in tax revenues that resulted from a sharp contraction of the Armenian economy. He said the funding, which is a key source of Karabakh’s budgetary revenues, will continue unabated this year.
Ara Harutiunian, the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s prime minister, thanked Yerevan for the aid, saying that it has enabled his government to achieve “satisfactory results” in its socioeconomic policy. He said the Karabakh economy grew by as much as 13 percent in 2009 despite the recession in Armenia and around the world. Harutiunian also touted a 16.7 percent surge in the disputed region’s birthrate registered in 2009.
The two premiers inaugurated on Monday a hydro-electric station in Karabakh’s northern Martakert district. Harutiunian told journalists that two more such facilities will be built by the end of this year and two others in 2011. “Our entire energy potential will be used in full within two or three years,” he said.
According to Karlen Petrosian, head of the Karabakh Department on Industrial Infrastructures, use of fast-flowing mountainous rivers will make Karabakh, which currently imports electricity from Armenia, self-sufficient in energy. “Within a short period of time, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic will turn from an electricity-importing country into an electricity-exporting country,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian insisted on Monday that the situation along the main Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline east of Karabakh is “stable” despite a recent upsurge in deadly skirmishes. Ohanian, who accompanied Sarkisian together with other Armenian government ministers, visited some sections of the frontline and Karabakh Armenian army bases over the weekend.
“I can say for certain that the Defense Army [of Nagorno-Karabakh] is able to defend the borders,” News.am quoted Ohanian as saying. “Furthermore, we are able to not only defend but also take some preemptive measures,” he added without elaborating.