2021 February 10

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

Feb/10/2021: daily news summary of political, economic, and social events in Armenia.
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Wednesday report in 2931 words.

EU-AM comprehensive cooperation agreement is being finalized

The EU has notified Armenia of the completion of the ratification process of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive Extended Partnership Agreement. It will go into effect on March 1st.

Signed in 2017, the agreement envisions stronger EU-AM ties and regulates politics, economy, justice, security, and trade.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043040.html

Abkhazia wants to join the railway project

There is an ongoing talk to establish a railway connection between Armenia and Russia via Azerbaijan. Abkhazia, located south of Russia and deprived of the Abkhazia-Georgia railway link, wants to be part of the new project.

"Since the Karabakh war has ended, Abkhazia should not be left out of regional communication," said the Abkhaz politician who sent a letter to Moscow.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abkhazian_railway#Link_to_Georgia

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042953.html

"There is no reason for Turkey to keep the borders closed,"

... said Foreign Minister Ayvazyan. "I think that Turkey, under the pressure of the international community, should gradually return to the normal process. There is no other reason to impose a blockade on Armenia. The blockade was related to the status quo in Artsakh, which has changed."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042997.html , https://youtu.be/OpJUwWtQY2E

securty on AM-AZ border

MOD Vagharshak: no shootouts on AM-AZ borders since December. Shots were fired but not at our positions. One soldier was wounded near Shushi. We inform the peacekeepers when shots are fired, even if in the air.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043014.html

when will martial law end?

"When the security environment improves and the reasons for having martial Law end," said Justice Minister Badasyan in response to the LHK MP question. Martial law was declared on September 27th. It was later relaxed on Decemter 2 to allow opposition parties to hold protests, among other things.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043005.html

journalists need NSS permission to visit new borders

You can't just walk into a border zone and film a documentary, says NSS's border guard forces.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043023.html

new roads will be built in Syunik

Some roads in Syunik became "borders". The government will build alternative ones, "as soon as the weather allows", said Infrastructure Minister Papik in Parliament.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043026.html

are there any agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan besides the trilateral statement?

MP asked Deputy PM Avinyan to comment on former regime official's rumors about "secret agreements". Avinyan said the only other one, besides the trilateral statement, is relating to the establishment of road/border security on Syunik's Goris-Davit Bek area with the use of Russian troops.

https://factor.am/337336.html , https://youtu.be/U-BmNz7Dm7E

Pashinyan about a creation of a commission to investigate war facts

Pashinyan to LHK MP: I share your view that we need to learn every detail about the war. But according to your Commission proposal, it would consist of political forces 70% of whom have already given answers to those questions and determined their stance. If they need answers, why have they already "published the results"?

We tried to invite you to hold a conversation about this topic but you refused.

It's not true that the issue is being ignored. There are over 1,000 felony investigations relating to the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042993.html , https://youtu.be/2tt8GIWZyHo

a vehicle is donated to a soldier who shot 9 tanks

Spanish-Armenian donor Arman Mayilyan gave a car to Private Suren Gabrielyan who shot 9 tanks and 7 armored vehicles during the war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042994.html

all mobilized troops will receive benefits by March

4% of soldiers mobilized during the war haven't received their payments yet. MOD Vagharshak said the problem will be resolved by March 1st. "There were documentation problems relating to soldiers' registrations in military facilities."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042996.html , https://youtu.be/eK3oc9PvKGs

prosecutors release opposition figure who made physical threats

Vahan Badasyan earlier threatened to use weapons to physically "remove" PM Pashinyan. He was arrested. He regretted his words, saying they came at the heat of the moment.

Considering his family status, his participation in the war, and a personal vouching by several BHK and Ind. MPs, the prosecutors decided to free Badasyan under the condition he won't leave Armenia until his trial.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043029.html , https://factor.am/337226.html

Education Minister responds to Slavonic University Rector's letter to PM

The rector of Slavonic University, a former Prime Minister (1999-2000) and an Economy Minister of Armenia, and a figure politically opposed to Pashinyan, wrote a letter accusing Pashinyan administration of trying to use NSS to get him fired from rector's position. He said Pahsinyan should expect fierce political competition if he resigns from the rector's job. He also accused Pashinyah of hating Russia and explained the alleged pressure as being one of the motives behind it. He believes Pashinyan's adviser and ex Education Minister Arayik is behind it.

The Education Minister Dumanyan denied the accusations, saying the rector is wrong about "dark forces" in Education Ministry. "Slavonic university is one of our best. We have good relations with them. There was no problem with the rector. Not even a phone call with him. Perhaps the rector can enlighten us on what he meant. I can only say that he should look for a problem where it exists, and not where it doesn't. There is no problem in the Education-govt ring; if the rector has a problem, he should be honest and say where it is. I'm saddened to hear such statements coming from the rector."

The Slavonic rector later said that the deputy Education Minister and other education officials, in the past several months, have paid visits and expressed interest in how the rector's appointment/resignation process works, and that it was part of a job instructed by the PM's office. The rector Darbinyan claims an NSS agent later came and told him to resign.

The rector plans to organize a protest tomorrow.

(Possibly related: there are ongoing major education reforms that many officials don't like. It also affects how rectors are appointed in universities that receive public funds. The process of appointing a rector and university board can change. More on those reforms later when the bill reaches the final 2nd parliamentary hearing.)

https://factor.am/337305.html , https://infocom.am/Article/47689 , https://armeniasputnik.am/armenia/20210210/26402013/kgms-naxarary-patasxanec-hay-rusakan-halasarani-rektori-bac-namakin.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/206359

POWs swap / dozens returned home

Yesterday, 5 Armenian and 1 Azeri POWs returned to their homes. To this day, 69 Armenians have returned.

Gyumri residents closed a nearby road in protest because they were told that 20 POWs would return from Azerbaijan but only 5 did. Others held a picket in front of the Russian embassy.

Pashinyan will meet the families of volunteers from Gyumri/Shirak who were earlier captured in the narrow strip west of the Hadrut-Shushi corridor. "When it comes to the POW issue, should be guided by the medical principle of not causing further harm. During this time we learned that there were a number of actions that seemed to be in favor of a speedy solution to the problem, but in practice, the opposite happened."

(He is likely referring to some forms of public discussions and protests that could have encouraged Azerbaijan to intentionally delay the swap process, knowing that the delay would cause disability in Armenia. Some families of POWs criticized opposition protesters for "fueling" Azeri intentions.)

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042929.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042986.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043017.html , https://factor.am/337375.html , https://youtu.be/GSsZD4WWNTI , https://factor.am/337439.html

12 wounded soldiers will be sent abroad for medical care

Defense Ministry has asked Healthcare Ministry to cover the costs of 12 soldiers to visit abroad for medical care unavailable in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042999.html

update: high-tech prosthetics for wounded soldiers

Hrayr is learning how to control the new arm after therapy:

https://youtu.be/59L63CCY7IU?t=32

government wants to reduce expenditures through optimizations

Up to 10% in some areas, said Deputy PM Mher. "We have stats about the efficiency of financial expenditures last year."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043025.html

anti-corruption: NSS busts ֏124M in embezzlement

NSS report says: the chief of Transport and Urban Department department in Vayots Dzor province decided to embezzle federal funds meant for road construction. He colluded with two construction company directors to falsify documents.

As a result, the construction companies did not complete the required upkeep work during the winter/summer seasons, but claimed they did, to receive the funds issued between 2016-2019.

A felony cause is launched with 4 counts.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042992.html

census in 2021 or 2022

The govt plans to count the population either this year or next. The preparation began in 2019 but was paused due to pandemics and war.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043024.html

Seismic Department about new buildings and Soviet-era structures

Official: most existing Yerevan buildings do not meet modern seismic standards. They are high risk. We could have many losses if a few-point quake hits Yerevan (բերանտ խերով բաց ապեեեեր). For this purpose, it's important to constantly monitor buildings and take action.

There is a new international practice called "շենքերի ռեիննովացիա" [I'm assuming it's Seismic Retrofit]. The old buildings are reinforced. This will reduce the risks.

As for newly constructed buildings, the construction process is inspected to ensure they meet seismic standards. The new ones are seismic-proof enough.

The aftershocks that followed the recent 4.7M quake in Shorja are almost over. It was an average quake. It concerned the residents despite not being big.

There were 1650 regional quakes last year.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042959.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042989.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043008.html

Artashat will have a newly renovated stadium and runway

Deputy Education Minister and sports commentator Karen Giloyan visited Artashat to learn about the stadium renovation work. Investors will be involved.

The Athletics Federation chief Emmiiyan has been trying to install a rubber-runway with international standards. He finally has a chance. The construction beings in May.

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042976.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042944.html ,

you misunderstood... you cannot ship NARCOTICS via the post office

IRS border agents will begin to use an automated system to select suspicious parcels for enhanced screening, to store a vehicle and personal data about suspicious incidents.

The x-ray devices will begin to send images to headquarters in Yerevan for additional visual analysis.

In 2020, the border import violations (426) rose 141% since 2018, up 112% from 2019. IRS believes they are doing a better job at detecting the smugglers; the best score in a decade.

Apparently, more people decided to ship narcotics with airmail. 240 incidents, 60% from the US (mostly hashish oil, marijuana, meth), 22% from France (psych pills).

Someone tried to import LCD from Mexico hidden in a cardboard box. Fewer smugglings from Iran.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042970.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042961.html

agriculture stats / intensive gardening grows ten-fold / Armenian wine in Europe / farmer insurance / smart barn / federal subsidies

Economy Ministry: agriculture & animal industry grew +1.4% last year. The size of arable land was 228,000 hectares and irrigated lands 155,000 hectares.

As part of a govt subsidy program, 295 agricultural tech was leased; the number of recipients doubled.

Intensive gardening grew 10x, from 53ha to 519ha. The number of beneficiaries rose from 17 to 53. Since there is a growing interest in this, we will make reforms in 2021 and implement a systemic approach. It will include education programs in Agrarian University.

The new agricultural insurance was implemented in 6 provinces for 2 crops. It'll expand to all provinces and 11 crops this year.

As part of a subsidy program, 20 smart barns were built, with 35 underway. This program was done in border settlements and will expand to Syunik borders next week.

98K tons of fruits & veggies were procured. That's +11K tons from 2019.

To increase wine exports, this year we will build a storage in Berlin and use an online platform to make Armenian wine available to the entire Europe.

To improve recycling and exports, we're working with 3 Russian supermarket chains for them to open logistics centers in Armenia, so the Armenian product will be directly sent to their supermarkets.

State-subsidized agricultural loans grew 4x. Loan portfolio volume 2x.

Veterinary Service Center was built in Hrazdan (one in Tumanyan underway). Agrarian University received new tech. 8 settlements have new irrigation networks (11 ongoing),

More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042977.html

Tags: #farming #Agriculture

a new approach for agriculture subsidy to reduce corruption

LHK MP criticized the govt for ending the agricultural subsidy programs recently and called for their resumptions.

Economy Minister Qerobyan: we need to understand why certain programs were stopped. There were corruption risks and inefficiency issues. Large resources gave small results.

Today, we're providing the same assistance through another method. Instead of the fertilizer and fuel subsidy programs, we have a loan subsidy program of ֏3-15M. The farmer can easily obtain their fertilizer and fuel. We used this method successfully in 2020.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043007.html

update: Yerevan to import 161 new buses / ban parking for other cars կանգառներում

Besides the 100 mini-buses, 30 of which began serving the public days earlier, the city plans to buy 161 medium-size and 100 long buses. There is some progress in regards to the 161 medium ones, said mayor Marutyan. A contract will be signed with the company that won the auction. 6 months later the buses will arrive.

Marutyan said it's important to prohibit other vehicles from parking in bus stops.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043006.html

other news from Yerevan

Mayor Marutyan has asked the police to take care of construction firms that pollute the surrounding. "Some trucks leave the area with dirty tires and carry the improperly-secured cargo."

Mayor asked utility firms to install safety signs while doing repair works.

500 elevators were installed in 2020 and are ready for use.

"Taco trucks" now need a license to park near sidewalks for sales. They began filing applications for permits.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1043006.html

COVID stats

2574 tested. 196 infected. 236 healed. 4175 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042938.html

Healthcare Ministry relaxes restrictions on kindergartens

Parents have been complaining that their kids still cannot attend free public kindergartens. Today the HealthMin allowed some children to attend classes. For now, it applies to those whose care is impossible at home, who have disabilities, low-income family kids, etc.

HealthMin is also concerned because lately, they have noticed a spike in infections. The reproduction score went from 0.59 to 0.95, with some provinces being hit heavier than others.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042963.html

Dram vs Dollar inflation in 2020

In one year, the inflation was 8.8%. $1 went from ֏479 to ֏521.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042918.html

Armenia's biggest export products and destinations in 2020

Total: $2.544B (-4%)

Mining/mineral: $828M (+11%)

Prepared food: $560M (-13%)

Precious stones: $366M (-12%)

Vehicles: -51%

Animals: +53% ($79M)

Various industrial goods: +42%

Top export destinations: Russia $676M (-9%), Switzerland $467M (+2%), China $290M (+50%, daiyum??).

Largest increase in exports: Slovakia 21 times, korea +77%, UAE +67%

Imports totaled $4.559B last year. Mostly vehicled, machinery, tech totaling $874M. Second place was mining/mineral with $745M.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042917.html

Armenia and Sweden discuss cooperation and investments

Infrastructure Minister Papikyan met the Swedish ambassador to discuss the exchange of experience in the field of civil aviation, migration services, and road construction. Sweden will help Armenia with the ongoing process of merging smaller settlements into larger municipalities; the consolidation is aimed towards improving the efficiency of governance and raising federal funding.

Deputy PM Avinyan presented the ongoing economic and democratic reforms.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042922.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042968.html

Swedish tech firm will create 1,000 new jobs / Foreign and Armenian investors

Economy Minister Qerobyan: several European and American companies are in the process of investing in Armenia. A Swedish IT firm, which is worth $20B and is one of the largest in the world, will create 1,000 jobs this year. They have offices in Georgia and elsewhere, and now they plan to expand in Armenia. This is just one example; there are other firms.

We need to learn to speak properly with investors. We haven't been doing it right. Instead of seeking investors and pleading them for investments, we've been alienating them. This issue affects some parts of the public administration system today.

We also have many patriotic Armenian investors who choose to invest despite the war, with the sense that they need to help the homeland during hardship. This doesn't mean they don't care about profit. They are aware of the risks yet they choose to invest.

We aim to restore the 2019 economic growth with double-digit numbers.

💎🤲🚀 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042942.html

"science should be funded by the business, too" / Economy Minister about commercializing science:

We have introduced significant changes to our structures so that the science will be financed not only with public funds but also the business.

Science has been treated very badly for the last 30 years. We have two structures: Intellectual Property Agency (IPA) and National Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NCIE). Both should help to commercialize science, that is, the science creates a product then the NCIE finds a business that can use it for commercial purposes.

We're significantly reforming IPA and NCIE so the science will be funded by the business, too. There could be tax incentives, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042955.html

All Armenia Fund received $27M in donations after the war

The large flow of donations arrived not just during the war, said Himnadram spokesman today. "The $27M came mostly from the US, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Argentina, and other Armenian communities."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042932.html

All Armenia Fund's charity work

Over 1,000 houses were/are being renovated. The Fund transferred cash to the government which used it to pay the one-time ֏300K and 6-month-long monthly ֏68K+֏15K payments to dozens of thousands of recipients.

Large quantities of other aid were sent, including electricity generators, vehicles, etc.

The Fund prioritizes aid to wounded soldiers, refugee housing, healthcare services, food. The Fund works with the Soldiers' Fund to aid the recovering soldiers. More details will be provided later, said spokesman Barseghyan.

They are discussing the possibility of building new houses with the charity fund, in addition to renovations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042932.html

donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older news

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" or "appear" guilty.

To be continued...


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lh4na2/feb102021_daily_news_summary_of_political/

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