Tigran Sargsyan: Russia interested in Armenia as a strong partner in the Caucasus

Achievements of 2012

The Armenian political system proved its viability, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said in an interview with “Moskovskiye Novosti,” adding that this was reflected in the parliamentary elections, which were assessed by international observers as the most democratic in the modern history of Armenia.

According to the Prime Minister, the economic activity was very high: the GDP growth exceeded 7%, which is one of the best indicators on post-Soviet space. “This is a serious figure, if we take into consideration that Armenia is situated in a geopolitically vulnerable position – I mean the relations with some neighbors and unsolved conflicts.”

Tigran Sargsyan said this became possible first of all thanks to the government’s anti-crisis program targeted at diversification of economy, real support to the industry and investments in high-tech industry.

Customs Union

Speaking about the likelihood of Armenia’s joining the Customs Union, the Prime Minister said: “The Armenian economic system considerably differs from that of the countries of the Customs Union, which have huge energy resources and where the interests of local producers are protected with rather high customs duties. On the average, the customs duties in the Union are twice as high as in Armenia. Armenia was one of the first countries in the CIS to join the World Trade Organization, and this gives certain specifics to our relations with the Customs Union. Therefore, it’s necessary to find a formula and most effective tools of our cooperation.”

“At the same time we have said on many occasions that Armenia is interested in integration processes in the CIS and is ready to stimulate them, as on one hand Russia is our strategic partner, on the other hand – this is a large and promising market, and we must create favorable conditions for doing business on this space,” Tigran Sargsyan said.

Armenian-Russian relations

Armenian Russian relations represent an allied partnership based on a firm ground of historic affinity between the peoples of out two countries, the Armenian Prime Minister said.

“We see that Russia is interested in having a strong partner in the Caucasus in the face of Armenia. Russia is the first largest investor in our economy, not even speaking about cooperation in the military sphere,” Tigran Sargsyan said.

Armenia’s relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan

Speaking about the perspectives of the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, PM Tigran Sargsyan said “it depends on the political will of Azerbaijan.”

“Armenia has always had a constructive position in the negotiation process, which consists of searching for a mutually acceptable solution through negotiations. Unfortunately, our neighbors are not ready for it.”

“As for Turkey, the situation is as follows: Armenia started talks with Turkey on the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border without preconditions. The negotiations culminated in the signing of two protocols, which were to be ratified by the parliaments of the two countries. Armenia declared its willingness to do so, while Turkey froze the process. Therefore, the ball is now in Turkey’s court. It’s hard to say whether the issue will move from a dead point in the near future or not. Here one can feel the strong influence of Azerbaijan, which demands from Turkey to conduct a policy targeted at isolating Armenia,” Tigran Sargsyan stated.

Information Technologies

“The sphere of information technologies is very promising. We signed a number of important agreements in the Silicon Valley, namely the creation of a venture fund in Armenia, attraction of trans-national corporations to Armenia. The government actively supports the initiatives in the IT field, and many transnational companies view Armenia as a regional IT center. Synopsis  Microsoft, National Instruments, D-Link, Intel, IBM have either opened their offices in Armenia or are in talks with Armenia on the formats of cooperation,” PM Tigran Sargsyan said.

He reminded that Armenia has signed an agreement on the establishment of a chip-producing factory in Armenia, has opened its representation in the Silicon Valley.

“This is a promising direction for Armenia, especially considering our geographic position, geopolitical risks, restricted opportunities of cargo shipment,” he added.

Armenian chess

“Armenia is a chess superpower. Our team has won the Olympics thrice, leaving behind the teams of China, Russia, India and the US. Two years ago we implemented the compulsory introduction of chess in all 1,400 schools. The point is not that we want to grow as many grandmasters as possible. Chess helps build strategy, develop tactical schemes and make decisions. This is an important tool for the development of analytical thinking,” Tigran Sargsyan said.

Armenian cognac

Winston Churchill preferred the Armenian cognac to all other drinks. Which are the preferences of the Armenian Prime Minister?

“It depends on where, when, with whom and why,” Tigran Sargsyan said. “Cognac is the best drink to conclude a hearty dinner. I like strong drinks. It’s not surprising that Winston Churchill was a fan of Armenian brandy, as it is a drink for real men,” he added.

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