2021 August 3

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Aug/3/2021: Vision Zero: road safety strategy __ Artsakh's new hydro __ High tech village, broadband, digitization, Cybersecurity Agency __ Parliament & Govt __ Pashinyan on borders, trade, partners __ 50k jabs purchased, France to send 200k __ Anti-corruption busts __ Central Bank report
by ar_david_hh


Your 13-minute Tuesday recap in 3233 words.

Debet wants to become Armenia's first "smart village"

The village in Lori is expected to transform completely in a few years, from infrastructure to the introduction of new businesses, with the help of the "Children of Armenia" charity fund (COAF).

They recently opened a new development center in the village hall. The meeting and staff room were renovated, a new library was built.

COAF Reps.: development requires a constant change. It won't be an exaggeration to say that the village is progressing on daily basis. This 5-year program will totally revamp the village and bring 21st century standards. //

COAF made its debut in Debet in 2018, with the opening of the SMART Center, which provides free education to 1,350 children from 27 settlements of Lori province. They study languages, marketing, dances, programming, etc.

COAF Rep.: kids don't want to leave the building when they come here. If we develop the child, that will also develop the village, the country. //

SMART Village project has three goals: infrastructure revamps, creation of businesses, developing skills. The villagers and the mayor are taking an active part.

Mayor: the most important change we are already observing is that "hope" has turned into "trust" that this project will realize. We have a construction boom. //

There will be a smart bus stop, smart school, kindergarten, recreation center. The roofs in the village will be renovated and given a red color (will become the village symbol). New houses are being built for Artsakh refugees; one is ready, seven are in the works. COAF purchases and repairs buildings.

Why Debet? The village size was perfect for the pilot program, and it already had the SMART Center.

https://www.civilnet.am/news/627967/դեբետը-խոստանում-է-դառնալ-հայաստանի-առաջին-խելացի-գյուղը/ https://youtu.be/b4YH1kF5TAc

Armenia wants to connect every settlement to broadband internet / military industry / Cybersecurity Agency

High-Tech Minister Chobanyan: in the long run, the development of Armenia and overcoming of the challenges can be ensured only by promoting high-value industries, which are in the tech sector. Analysis tells us what the world's industry will look like by 2030/50. We believe Armenia can shine in this field and make ourselves heard.

Reporter: if in the past your Ministry was associated with modern technologies, then after the war, the topic of the military industry has been widely discussed. Are there any ongoing programs you can publicly talk about now?

Minister: there is a great interest in this field after the war. There are numerous initiatives and suggestions. During the past several months we created the conditions and business processes so every single idea will be discussed in a professional format.

In this regard, communication with the private sector is very important. We have several initiatives. We are familiar with the work that's being done on engineering and other levels.

Not only in Armenia but around the world the military industry can serve as a locomotive for the entire industry.

We have people with long experience in engineering and design. They are our greatest asset. The war has made them stronger and more determined. They are eager to achieve results quicker.

Information technology companies have existed in Armenia since the 90s and 2000s. We have reached a point where we have to develop the manufacturing part. Today, the demand is far greater than supply.

With the introduction of the manufacturing element, we will allow the field to expand. Not everyone has to become an architect/designer. There can be hundreds of professions in the manufacturing field. Our goal is to help our engineering companies to multiply their abilities.

[About digitization]. Digitization can help with governance and adding convenience for citizens so they won't have to physically visit dozens of agencies. We're working with HayPost.

When you digitize, cybersecurity becomes a bigger problem. We will soon present the program to establish a cybersecurity agency.

You need a great internet infrastructure to develop education. Our goal is to connect every settlement to a broadband network.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219733

Tags: #internet #MilitaryIndustry #CyberSecurityAgency

digitization in IRS expected to reduce imports-exports processing times

IRS report: we are finalizing the implementation of the "One Window" electronic system with the help of the EU. There will no longer be a need for physical visits to obtain certain customs documents from public or private agencies.

The time to organize the import and export process will be significantly reduced. Shortly after the implementation of the system.

Because it takes skills to operate the electronic system, we are inviting agents or anyone who handles customs documents to join our educational classes. Upon completion in September, the graduates' names will be published. This training is optional for now, but certification will be necessary in the future. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059742.html

new Parliament, new Government, new political positions

Anahit Avanesyan will remain as the Healthcare Minister, Vahram Dumanyan as Education Minister, Andranik Piloyan as Emergency Minister, Vahan Qerobyan as Economy Minister.

Notably, the new Justice Minister will be the former Human Rights Ombudsman Karen Andreasyan. He is replacing Rustam Badasyan, who will become the IRS boss.

Tigran Khachatryan will be the Finance Minister. He used to be the Economy Minister.

Mher Grigoryan continues to serve as a deputy Premier.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059758.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059833.html https://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/294764/Sarkissian_unveils_old_and_new_names_for_Ministers_posts

new Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan met the Russian ambassador to discuss military cooperation

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059763.html

Pashinyan discussed regional trade routes, customs checkpoint with Azerbaijan, army reforms, and borders with the army command

He thanked the departing MOD Vagharshak and introduced the new MOD Karapetyan.

Pashinyan: the situation in the region is still tense after the Azeri incursion on May 12. During this time there has been criticism as to why the Armenian Armed Forces are not taking measures to [kick them out]. Our position remains the same: as long as there is a chance to resolve this diplomatically, we will choose that route.

Azerbaijan's aggression aims to make an impression that they created an agenda around Armenia and in the region, and that they are dictating the agenda. Their goal is to create this impression.

We have our agenda. Armenia continues to be within the framework of its international obligations [Nov. 9 and Jan. 11]. Azerbaijan's goal is to hinder the process of finding solutions.

As I've said earlier, opening the regional communication routes is one of the top priorities for Armenia. Azerbaijan wants to add unacceptable "corridor" components to derail this process.

But they must realize that there has never been any agreement for a "corridor". Not orally, not in writing. The agreement we have is stated on Nov 9 and Jan 11 statements. The political opposition in Armenia uses this topic to claim there are secret agreements... there are none.

Do we have an agreement to open communication routes? Yes. Armenia and Azerbaijan must use each others' territories for cargo transportation. The Jan 11 document mentions the process of creating customs checkpoints, sanitary, and phytosanitary stations. It's the same as with Georgia and Iran borders.

Our goal is to end the 30-year blockade. It is our initiative, not Azerbaijan's. That's why Azerbaijan adds unacceptable "corridor" components to attempt to stop the process.

As I've said during the election campaign, another agenda is the border delimitation-demarcation. You may remember the so-called "terrifying" document leak. It is our agenda. Having demarcated borders is akin to having fortress protections.

Azerbaijan's occupation of Armenian territories is unacceptable and there can't be a demarcation under those conditions.

The biggest task is to reform the army ASAP. I wish the new MOD best of luck. We've been working together for two years now. He is experienced.

Departing MOD Vagharshak: the most important task today is to complete the army reforms. I will remain in your ranks. Best of luck.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059827.html

QP MP Rubinyan about CSTO military bloc's "usefulness", contacting UN Security Council, ...:

About CSTO: It is clear that Azerbaijan intends to damage CSTO's reputation. Their actions are against the Russian peacekeeping mission in general. Our position is that Armenia must use every available tool to resolve border conflicts...

Discussions continue with our CSTO partners. Armenia wants stability in the region. We don't want to blow up the situation. We want a de-escalation with political and diplomatic efforts. That is why we contacted our CSTO partners...

About inviting Russian border guards to monitor the borders: Armenia values the support from its international partners, including France. It's no secret that France has provided quite a lot of support. But our actions are connected with different situations. The style of our foreign policy is that we are not going to build relations with one country at the expense of another.

Will Armenia contact the UN Security Council?: the UN Security Council makes decisions by consensus. Any country that wants to contact the UN Security Council has to create a certain atmosphere first, otherwise, it's pointless. Besides that, there is the issue of expediency. We are discussing it.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059770.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059782.html

Macron and Pashinyan talk / France will send 200,000 vaccines

Macron called to "congratulate Pashinyan and praised the smooth implementation of democratic processes in the country", and said that France will ship 200k vaccines soon. Pashinyan thanked Macron. They discussed the border issues and Aliyev's aggressive rhetoric aimed at destabilizing the region.

Macron emphasized the need for border demarcation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Pashinyan agreed, adding that the demarcation and Karabakh conflict resolution are not intersecting processes. He invited OSCE observers to monitor the borders if CSTO refuses.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059815.html

opposition HD and PU will ask the Constitutional Court to invalidate yesterday's Parliament president election process

Refresher: QP is Pashinyan's ruling party, HD is Kocharyan-ARF, PU is Serj-Vanetsyan.

Mayors allied with the former regime (HD and PU) were recently arrested and charged with voter bribery and election fraud. HD and PU complained during yesterday's first Parliament session that two of their new MPs, who are among the arrested mayors, were supposed to be present.

The self-described radical opposition disrupted yesterday's session with chants and subsequently boycotted the election of the Parliament President.

QP MP Alen Simonyan was elected as President. The opposition will challenge his election results in the Constitutional Court, arguing that the two arrested MPs had the right to be present during the vote.

Their candidates were arrested before becoming MPs. At the time, the Electoral Commission stripped their immunities to authorize their arrests. The opposition argues that since they are officially MPs now, they should enjoy the "full-fledged" immunity.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059741.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059759.html

Kocharyan & Co-defendant bribery trial delayed again

Ex-president Kocharyan and his associate Armen Gevorgyan were charged with taking millions of dollars in bribes.

Kocharyan decided to add Gevorgyan to his HD alliance ballot list. Gevorgyan officially became an MP yesterday, and now enjoys the MP's immunity.

The bribery trial was supposed to resume today but MP Gevorgyan's lawyer asked for it to be delayed, citing the defendant being too busy with Parliamentary work. The trial was delayed until Aug. 10.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059766.html https://factor.am/401010.html

will they get along?

QP MP Rubinyan: congratulations to HD and PU on winning Parliament seats... Let's discuss policies about the future in a tolerant atmosphere. Any insult towards each other will be an insult towards the people who voted for us...

The homeland is in danger. We have two choices: enter a self-destruction phase by continuously accusing each other and using the enemy's attacks as a political tool, or establish a tolerant atmosphere to analyze and discuss our mistakes of the past 30 years and show that Armenia and Artsakh have not been broken. Let's choose the second. //

He was later elected as a deputy Parliament president. The second deputy will also be from the ruling party. The third one will be nominated by the opposition; they chose ARF Ishkhan Saghatelyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059745.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059776.html

a large hydropower plant will be built in Artsakh's Martakert region

President Arayik summoned a meeting to discuss Artsakh's energy production, which took a major hit after the war due to the loss of access to several rivers and hydro plants.

President Arayik: we became an energy importer after the war. The restoration of our economy depends on our energy capabilities. To restore our self-sufficiency, we have decided to build a new large hydro.

The 17.6 MW Getavan-1 plant will be built near Getavan village in the Martakert region. The $25 million project will launch through the Artsakh Investment Fund (state-run), but private investors will have the opportunity to join.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059753.html

turning Martakert into the second largest town in Artsakh

President Arayik visited the northern region to learn about the ongoing construction works. He announced economic and infrastructure projects to develop the Martakert town into the second largest settlement.

Housing is the main issue. The President asked the locals to decide whether they want to rebuild the ruins left from the 1990s war or build new residential areas in its place. Around 500 new apartments are expected in the near future.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059812.html

anti-corruption: multiple Meghri customs officials busted with bribery

NSS reports: we finished the investigation of Meghri (Syunik) border customs officials who took large-scale bribes, and the individuals who gave the bribes to evade ֏60 million in taxes.

In July 2020, a former inspector convinced his friend and at the time an active inspector to allow a businessman to import products without paying taxes. The trio conspired with the customs department chief and other inspectors.

The businessman then imported 72 tons of metal rods and other products from Iran after bribing the inspectors not to check the truck. The officials proceeded to falsify documents.

Seven individuals are facing felony charges. Two of them are under arrest. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059749.html

anti-corruption: a small hydropower plant in Gegharkunik is accused of machinations

The prosecutors and the Nature Ministry accused a hydro of intentionally presenting false information about water sources during license renewal. A felony case is launched. [they basically tried to activate a pirated copy of Windows XP]

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059822.html

Vision Zero: redesigning roads, replacing Armenia's aging vehicles fleet, eliminating dark spots

National Road Safety Councilman Shahinyan: the first traffic safety strategy in Armenia was adopted in 2009 and lead to a 20% reduction in traffic incidents in the following year. That strategy ended in 2013.

Between 2016-2020, we had +25% road incidents, +30% deaths, +31% injuries. The incidents declined in 2020 due to the pandemic. The primary cause of incidents is ignoring signals and markings, followed by speeding.

new strategy

Now we have a new strategy to sharply reduce deadly incidents. It's based on the Swedish "Vision Zero" model. Its goal is to improve infrastructure and safety with new approaches.

The roads should be designed to be safe and equipped with international standards. They must be properly marked after renovations before opening for public use.

The cars should be safer. If the road is good but the car is bad, an accident is inevitable, and vice versa.

There is a global trend to set a 30km/h (19mi/h) speed limit in busy areas of cities. Even if an incident occurs, it greatly reduces the chances of death.

safety standards

Armenia is in the 3rd safety zone of European standards, while our neighbors have already upgraded to 6th. That means we accept low-standard vehicles that might not have airbags and other safety systems.

Without hitting people's wallets, we should aim for the imported vehicles to be safe, while also attempting to address the existing vehicle fleet. We should give the driver the ability to swap the old vehicle with a new one. The decision to exempt electric vehicles from certain taxes was excellent.

We can't outright ban the import of old vehicles, but it's possible to complicate the process with the goal of gradually modernizing the fleet.

database of dangerous hotspots

The next issue the strategy will address is the dark spots, so we can have the exact map of where the incidents occur. Today we say "the collision was on the 20th kilometer of Yerevan-Sevan road". Instead, we need the police to use GPS to pinpoint the exact location and add it to a database. The police are currently working on it.

We need to enrich the road traffic database. Today, we can't check which schools are in risky traffic zones because they aren't registered.

Entire streets are being registered when there is a traffic incident. If we improve this database, it will take minutes to identify problems.

The new law that allows residents to record and submit illegal driving footage to the police can play a sobering role. Similarly, drivers often reduce the speed when they know there is a speeding camera ahead.

public awareness

Part of the new strategy is to raise awareness. It will involve schools. There has already been a pilot program involving students and parents.

The strategy is currently being discussed in the government.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059778.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059790.html https://youtu.be/_O6VvlBU6SU

Tags: #RoadSafety #VisionZero #OldVehicles

Central Bank about the economic recovery, inflation and global markets:

12-month inflation: +6.5%

June inflation: -0.8% (deflation)

As we predicted earlier, in Q3 our parter states are recording fast economic recovery and growth in demand. As a result of mass vaccinations and the rise in product demand, a high inflationary environment remains in the food and raw material markets.

Armenia's economic activity outperformed our expectations, mostly a result of positive developments in Agriculture and Services.

The gross demand is also recovering at a fast rate, aided by the high growth rate of private consumption, remittances sent to Armenia, and rapid growth of external demand.

Considering the global trends and the expected microeconomy in Armenia, we are setting the refinancing rate at 7%, an 0.5% increase.

We are considering the need for the possible tightening of monetary conditions in the near future. We predict that inflation will remain high this year, followed by a gradual decline to 4%.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059788.html

did I tell you to stop?

Yerevan municipality is still bulldozing illegal buildings. The cleanup was in the Zeytun district this time.

https://youtu.be/UNUnQsSFoa8?t=5

COVID stats

7398 tested. 237 infected. 156 healed. 0 deaths. 4681 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059746.html

Armenia imports another 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca

The Ministry purchased it through the COVAX global initiative.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059765.html

diasporan-founded SADA earns the Google Could's reseller partner of the year award for the third year in a row

Two months ago, Hovik and Ani Safoyan's SADA announced plans to open a business and tech center in Armenia. They already have 14 workers, with plans to hire 30 more this year.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/294724/

Tokyo Olympics medals!

Boxer Hovhannes Bachkov is in the semifinals. He has secured at least a bronze medal. The next match is on Aug. 6.

Wrestler Karapet Chalyan was unable to win bronze while competing against the Azeri opponent.

Wrestler Karen Aslanyan was unable to advance. If the athlete who defeated him reaches the final, he will get a chance to compete for possibly bronze.

Wrestler Simon Martirosyan (no less than 109kg) won the silver medal. He got one in Rio, too. Two-time world and European champion.

Wrestler Arthur Aleksanyan won the silver medal. This is a grand slam: he now has all three Olympics medals. Earlier he won gold in Rio and bronze in the London Olympics. Three-time world and five-time European champion. Nine-time winner of Big Chungus Award.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059725.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059726.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059780.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059797.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1059787.html

Armenian students with 3 bronze medals in international Chemistry Olympiad

https://factor.am/401032.html

end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

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

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/oxb4cl/news_aug32021_vision_zero_road_safety_strategy/

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