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Armenian Economy Minister Also Resigns


Armenia -- Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian at a news conference in Yerevan, April 4, 2020

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian was poised to replace a sixth member of his cabinet following the resignation of Economy Minister Tigran Khachatrian announced on Tuesday.

Khachatrian’s spokeswoman, Anna Ohanian, said he tendered his resignation on Monday but will continue to perform his duties until the appointment of his successor.

The resignation is the result of a cabinet reshuffle which was promised by Pashinian last week amid anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan sparked by significant Armenian territorial losses suffered during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian has rejected opposition demands for his resignation and snap parliamentary elections. He said on November 18 that he will reshuffle instead his government to implement over the next six months a plan of actions designed to “establish stability and security in the country.”

The prime minister has since replaced his ministers of defense, foreign affairs, labor, education and emergencies. He did not name a new economy minister as of Tuesday afternoon.

Khachatrian took up the ministerial post six months after the “Velvet Revolution” that brought Pashinian to power in May 2018. The 49-year-old technocrat served as deputy minister of economy in Armenia’s former government toppled by the popular uprising.

Pashinian’s 15-point action plan promises, among other things, government efforts to stimulate business activity and improve the economic situation that has worsened significantly since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Armenian economy is now projected to shrink by about 7 percent this year after three consecutive years of robust growth. The government forecast a less drastic GDP contraction before the war with Azerbaijan that broke out on September 27 and was stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.

In its budget bill submitted to the Armenian parliament early this month, the government said economic growth will resume and reach a 4.8 percent rate already next year.

The International Monetary Fund offered on November 18 a less optimistic outlook for the Armenian economy.

“Real GDP is now expected to decline by over 7 percent in 2020,” the IMF said in a statement. “While uncertainty about the recovery is high, growth is projected to remain modest in 2021 and then pick-up as the economy gradually adapts to, and moves past, the impact of these shocks and associated economic scarring.”

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