The government announced on Thursday that it has annulled the controversial sale of a historic building in central Yerevan that houses the Armenian ministries of foreign affairs, energy and local government.
The building was sold to a little-known private firm reportedly owned by Argentine-Armenian businessman Eduardo Eurnekian. Under the $51.7 million deal approved by the government on October 4, the Tango company was due to construct a new office building for these and two other ministries by September 2015. The government was to pay for the construction with proceeds from the sale.
The government also announced at the time that Tango will turn the structure containing 14,000 square meters of office space and land into a five-start hotel that will become part of an “internationally renowned hotel chain.
The deal was criticized by some opposition groups and public figures. Some of them said that a key government building must not be privatized in principle, while others protested against the fact that the buyer was chosen without a tender
Arman Sahakian, head of a government agency managing state-owned properties, told journalists that the government has reconsidered the controversial decision in response to the criticism. He said the government has also decided to auction off the property to the highest bidder and thus ensure greater transparency in the process.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s cabinet called the auction at a weekly meeting held on Thursday.
The imposing building is located in the city’s main Republic Square, opposite the Prime Minister’s Office. It was built in the late 1940s and was for decades occupied by various Soviet Armenian government ministries.