News in Аrmenia today | Nagorno Кarabakh latest news | World News in English today https://en.168.am Sun, 28 May 2017 07:28:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What goes on in Armenia’s IT sector https://en.168.am/2017/05/28/19661.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/28/19661.html#respond Sun, 28 May 2017 07:28:30 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19661  

Information technologies and communication. Or simply ICT. This is one of them most frequently used expressions of recent years.

It’s among our economic priorities, and being poor in natural resources we link our economic future with this very branch. Even Ministry of Transport and communication was “modernized” by adding “IT” expression in it.

How does ICT develop in Armenia and is growth temp in line with the number of delivered speeches?

Some identify ICT statistics with indices of communication. However, it isn’t correct. Communication comprises a part of ICT, however, other types aren’t involved in it, e.g. software.

National Statistical Service of Armenia from 2009 each quarter sumps up and publishes main indices of ICT. Those indices are given in section “Curious statistics”.

We have summed up results of recent 5 years: 2012-2016. As you may see in Chart 1 in 2012 and 2013 ICT recorded respectively 6.8% and 11.7% growth. In 2014 0.5% decline was recorded, and in 2015 it more deepened—0.7%.

Only in 2016 growth started to restore, although by a rather modest index—1.1%.  In 2016 volume of ICT comprised AMD 238.1 million (4.7% of GDP).

Of course, by such temps one can’t have hopes to “turn the world upside down” through IT. Technologies are sharply developing and their share in economy increases more and more. Of course, declining indices don’t contribute to suffer that temp.

However, everything isn’t that bad, as it may seem at first glance. Besides general indices the National Statistical Service of Armenia gives separate indices of information technologies and communication.

As you may see in the period of 20112-2016 the field of communications recorded decline, and IT has grown.

Thus, if in 2012 proceeds of the field of communication comprised AMD 165.2 billion, in 2016 they dropped to AMD 143 billion. And the so-called “pure” IT volume was doubled reaching from AMD 48.7 billion to AMD 95 billion.

As a result, share of “pure” IT reached from 22.8% of 2012 to around 40%.

And decrease in proceeds of the field of communication is an explicable and ordinary phenomenon. The point is that as a result of digital technologies and the internet subscribers refuse “classic” calls and messages, by using Viber, Skype and other similar apps instead.

It turns out that two IT components—technologies and communication are in heated fight, in which the field of communication gradually concedes its positions.

In case of Armenia that dynamics vividly develops this year as well.

Thus, in the first quarter of 2017 real growth of ICT toward the same period of the previous year comprised 15.5%. Volume of the field comprised around AMD 60.6 billion toward first quarter of the previous year—AMD 53 billion.

From which: volume of communication reduced to AMD 31.9 billion from 35.1 (decrease by 3.2 billion), and IT—from AMD 17.9 billion to AMD 28.7 billion (growth by 10.7 billion).

Thus, double digit growth of Armenia’s ICT is conditioned exclusively by “pure” IT sector. As a result of that growth in ICT specific gravity of IT comprises 47.4% (in the first quarter of 2016—33.8%).

In short, serious changes are ongoing in Armenia’s ICT sector. Either harmonic steps should be undertaken in the field of communications (in particular, mobile operators) or they should get along with the perspective of continuous decrease.

By Babken Tunyan

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“OSCE should not be instrumentalized in the conflict between Yerevan and Baku” https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19629.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19629.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 17:12:40 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19629 Yerevan Office of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will suspend its activity on August 31, 2017. It was founded in 2000 to assist Armenia develop democratic institutions and strengthen civil society. To prevent closure of the Office extensive negotiations have been launched in 2016 by Germany’s presidency and in 2017 by Austria’s presidency. However, through Baku’s efforts consensus wasn’t reached on mandate of the Office.

“The EU supports the substantial presence of the OSCE in all the countries of the South Caucasus. The Yerevan Office plays an important role in terms of meeting the needs of its host country, Armenia. The concerns raised by Azerbaijan that the Yerevan Office should not be involved in the processes over the conflict have been reflected in the formulations of the Austrian chairmanship, while the host country has accepted that solution. The fact that even that gave no results is disappointing.

The issue of the formulations that has led to the stalemate situation should not become an obstacle for the prolongation of the mandate of Yerevan Office. We call on the sides to demonstrate extra will for finding a solution to the issue as soon as possible,” Head of the European diplomacy Federica Mogherini announced early this month.

“168 Hour” interviewed Emmanuel Dupuy, advisor to the Defense Minister of France, President of the Institute for Prospective and Security in Europe, covering closure of OSCE Yerevan Office.

OSCE Yerevan Office is being closed by Baku’s demand, as decisions in that organization are adopted through consensus. Earlier, in 2014 OSCE Office in Baku was closed due to issues between the West and Azerbaijan linked to the democratic condition in the country. How would you comment on this situation? What after-effects it may have?

The decision to close OSCE Yerevan Office is, of course, bad news for everyone. After the closure of Baku’s Office in 2014 and the Tbilisi Office in 2009, after 17 years of presence, the last office to be maintained in South Caucasus was the Yerevan Office. Therefore, the impossibility to find a consensual agreement concerning the extension of the mandate of the Vienna-based eurasian organisation is to be addressed urgently.

Federica Mogherini, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, has taken the right stance concerning this vital issue, a few days ago, addressing full support to Austrian Chairmanship of OSCE, and advocating for solutions acceptable for each parties. The first and essential is that OSCE should not be instrumentalized in the conflict between Yerevan and Baku, but, on the contrary, used as a “mediator” and “facilitator” not to mention a “mentor” towards confidence building measures and long lasting peace and stability process, the will also benefit neighboring countries, such as Georgia, Russia, Iran, Turkey.

Some Armenian political scientists consider Russia instigated Azerbaijan to this step, which is generally discontent with the work of both MG and the entire organization, although it’s a MG member. Is that possible?

I would rather stress that Moscow is willing to push it’s own ownership and vision of Eurasian cooperation, and that OSCE is not the essential actor in that regard. The recent Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) Council, held on April 28, confirmed that Moscow is willing to strengthen the links between EEC and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in order to create the conditions of more effective, both bilateral agreements as well as a 5-state multilateral approach.

Russia is thus pushing for more integration from observing states, such as Moldova and Tajikistan, in order to forster a more inclusive vision to regional dispute resolutions…The will of Moscow to promote a trilateral canal of discussion concerning the Karabakh issue, such as the St. Petersburg format, bringing president Aliyev and Sargsyan to discuss under the direct auspices of Vladimir Putin confirms this new diplomatic strategy.

Azerbaijan prevents the activity of OSCE Yerevan Office also for the reason that it doesn’t intend to implement agreements reached in Vienna, in particular, installation of investigative mechanisms on the contact line and in that issue Russia influences on Azerbaijan in a shadowed manner. And although Russia doesn’t speak of it, that issue was eliminated from the negotiation agenda in St. Petersburg. Why is Russia against installation of those mechanisms?

I should start by reminding that the observatory mechanism on the contact line is not completely shut down. It’s still in effect, the common objective that the two parties (Yerevan and Baku) accept common procedures of planned monitoring and observation of the Line of Contact. Baku proposed to use a surveillance aerostat, on the area to be observed (west of Seysulan and Martakert district).

Since obviously these OSCE mechanisms seem irrelevant, or not commonly accepted, the logical solution would be to address the situation on another basis. Thus, the idea to use the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) framework to advance towards more inclusive stability and resolution of a too long lasting conflict. But, for that to be relevant, Baku needs to integrate the Collective Security Alliance…Let’s hope that decision will come soon.

The EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Switalski said Yerevan Office closure is a bigger blow for OSCE , than for Armenia. What do you think of this? Is there any way to keep presence in Armenia and in the South Caucasus?

As already mentioned, the EU statement (dated May 4) is very clear about the strong will of both organisations (the EU and OSCE) to keep a high-profile position not only in Armenia but in all South Caucasus, addressing border disputes, sovereignty claims, as well as to keep concrete presence and action, in three South Caucasus countries, belonging to the Eastern Partnership (EaP), in regards to implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA)  with the three countries, amongst which: the one signed between Brussels and Yerevan in July 2013.

In parallel with Nalbandian-Lavrov-Mammadyarov meeting, organizational work on new batch of Russian armaments and contemporary military equipment was provided to Azerbaijan on April 26, which Russia supplied in the framework of the agreements on military cooperation signed in 2003. Please, comment on this situation. Why Russia contributes to strengthening of Azerbaijan’s military privilege?

The military cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan, is, as you have rightly mentioned, growing since it was signed between the two states in 2003. This “privilege” as you mention, should also be put in comparaison with the defense agreement linking Yerevan and Moscow, since it was signed in February 2016 and is, on the same basis of your question, as what you have focused one, another “pillar” of Russia geopolitical proxy strategy.

I should add that increase of UAV’s (coming from Israel for Azerbaidjan / from Turkey on the Armenian side) as well as installation of Iskander-M in Armenia and the will of Baku to counter this strategic new reality by purchasing equivalent ballistic missiles, is a complex burden for implementation of peace and diplomatic solution to the 25 years conflict between the two neighbors, yet enemy, countries.

I am confident, nevertheless, that “enlargement” to Iran and Turkey, as geopolitical, geocultural and geoeconomic regional and global actors, offers a new diplomatic track, on which to “elaborate” new confidence building and “step by step” approach the conflict.

Gayane Khachatryan

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Consumer loans in Armenia grow by 4.3% https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19656.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19656.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 15:17:51 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19656 Consumer loans remained the more active direction of household crediting in 2016. According to official data on the 2016 financial stability report, a 4,3% growth of consumer loans was recorded in 2016, which was contributed by the growth of household equipment loans and gold deposit loans – 28,7% and 4,6% respectively.

Car loans and card credits decreased by 38,8% and 2,2% respectively. The overwhelming share in the consumer crediting structure consist of card (36,1%) and gold deposit loans (23,8%).

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The EU passes to the government 30 million euros every year and we want them not to land in private pockets: Piotr Switalski https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19653.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19653.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 14:44:55 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19653 “We pass to the government 30 million euros every year and we want this money to be well spent, not to land in private pockets,” Ambassador Piotr Switalski, head of EU Delegation to Armenia, told reporters today.

The Ambassador said anti-corruption activities may serve a very good example for Armenian institutions, “The rest will be decided by independent courts. The EU is serious about fight against corruption, not only in words, but on the level of activities as well. We follow corruption as a policy of zero tolerance.”

By Razmik Martirosyan

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The status-quo is no longer maintainable: Piotr Switalski https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19650.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19650.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 14:11:14 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19650 Ambassador Piotr Switalski, head of the EU delegation to Armenia, reflected to Artsakh issue and the recent statement issued by OSCE MG Co-Chairs.

The Ambassador stated that the developments in Artsakh and around it and the situation were discussed at length during the cooperation council between Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian and Federica Mogherini.

The Ambassador stated that the EU greatly supports the activities of MG Co-Chairs,

“We greatly support the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and their latest statement. We believe that there is no military solution for this conflict, and that the status-quo is no longer maintainable. We believe that the ceasefire agreement should be respected, we believe there is no military solution to this conflict and we believe that investigative mechanisms, also confidence building mechanisms should be implemented.”

Switalski mentioned that the EU is ready to provide financial support to the population after the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement,

“When this conflict is settled, and when peace returns to Artsakh, the European Union is ready to support the population of this area with significant resources.”

By Razmik Martirosyan

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Armenia to propose China to use GSP system for important products https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19647.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19647.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 13:52:48 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19647 Armenia will soon propose China the unilateral GSP (generalized system of preferences) system for important Armenian products, Hovhannes Azizyan, deputy minister of economic development and investments of Armenia said during the May 27 EEU-Armenia Cooperation business forum.

According to him, they are aiming for enhancing commercial ties with China within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. “Soon we will propose to China to use the unilateral advantage provision GSP system for important Armenian products. We will start negotiations until yearend. Official talks weren’t held till now, only interactions happened,” he said.

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Many countries know about Armenian Genocide due to Aurora https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19644.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19644.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 13:38:46 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19644 Vartan Gregorian, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, says people must shows with their example that they stand for the society, for humanity, rather simply for their benefit.

“I’m sorry that we are experiencing such days, when people don’t have faith in anything, because they’ve been cheated, betrayed, they are so disappointed that they don’t believe. When we are in such a situation, we create an emptiness, which isn’t filled with anything. Like I said yesterday, we are the prisoners of the present, we don’t have an idea about the future, we don’t have information about the past, we are simply dealing with our business. One must have an ideological symbol in himself, which will bring belief to yourself for yourself,” he said.

Asked on his opinion about the concerns that despite having similar issues, Armenia is transferring large amounts of money to other troubled countries, Gregorian said “We Armenians have always nationalized and restricted ourselves, we must think internationally.

The Armenian Genocide is being talked about in Congo, tourists who have never been here before are arriving, Armenians abroad say that foreigners know us. We have restricted ourselves and we think that everyone must help us, but first of all we must help ourselves.

When I arrive in Armenia I see the casinos. There is not a single person to criticize why so many casinos resembling palaces have been built. Yes, Armenia has advanced, it also has many problems, but instead of building casinos let them spend 50% of it on schools,” Gregorian said, adding he is very proud for bringing people from all over the world to Armenia.

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Hayastan All Armenian Fund approves 2017 fundraiser directions https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19638.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19638.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 12:47:17 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19638 Hayastan All Armenian Fund confrmed this year’s fundraiser’s topics. Ara Vardanyan, executive director of Hayastan All Armenian Fund, told reporters the topics were discussed in the 26th session of the Board of Trustees, which were proposed by the president of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan.

“There are two topics. The first is the program on deep well waters, with which we hope that irrigation process will begin in currently un-irrigated territories of Artsakh. It will greatly impact the development of agriculture. 50 thousand dollars are required for drilling each borehole. There are 180-200 similar wells. I can’t say that we’ll be able to completely fulfill it with the first fundraiser, but I will definitely emphasize that the program has been adopted not just for a single year.

We will continue it by seeking philanthropists”, Vardanyan said. The second program is the solar energy usage project. The Fund has previously implemented a similar program in Armenia and has gained experience. Next year, it will be possible to launch the solar energy usage program in almost all villages of Artsakh.

The first phase will include schools and community center, which will use solar energy for electricity purposes. Vardanyan expressed confidence that these two projects will be continuous, just like all other projects which were launched years ago. “During the 25 years of the Fund’s operations we had 700,000 donations worth 350 million dollars. The numbers are rather expressive.

A significant portion of the money is comprised through small donations. We are very proud that a large number of philanthropists support the Fund. We are sure that a day will come when we will state that 10 million philanthropists are supporting us, rather 700,000,” he said.

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Putin, Rouhani stress importance of joint efforts in settlement of Syrian conflict https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19641.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19641.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 12:08:14 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19641 Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Iran’s leader Hassan Rouhani, greeted him with the new presidential term and discussed the situation in Syria, the Kremlin’s press service said on Saturday, TASS reports.

“The Russian leader congratulated Hassan Rouhani with the new term and wished him success,” the press service said.

The parties confirmed the aspirations for development of the multifaceted bilateral cooperation in line with the agreements achieved during the Iranian president’s visit to Russia in March.

“They paid special attention to trade and economic cooperation, including to implementation of major joint projects in the sectors of oil and gas and peace use of nuclear power,” the statement reads.

Besides, Putin and Rouhani discussed the situation in Syria.

“During the discussion of the situation in Syria the parties stressed importance of developing joint efforts to favor the political-diplomatic settlement of the conflict in that country, including in the framework of the Astana process and by means of implementing the Memorandum on de-escalation zones,” the Kremlin said.

The leaders agreed to continue contacts both in bilateral and multilateral formats.

Iran’s presidential election was on May 19. Hassan Rouhani won the election to take the office for the second term. His candidature received support from 57% of the voters on the day.

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Iraqi forces launch operation to seize last Islamic State enclave in Mosul https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19634.html https://en.168.am/2017/05/27/19634.html#respond Sat, 27 May 2017 11:46:32 +0000 https://en.168.am/?p=19634 Iraqi armed forces launched an operation on Saturday to capture the last Islamic State-held enclave in Mosul, according to a military statement, Reuters reports. The fall of the city would effectively mark the end of Iraqi half of the “caliphate” declared nearly three years ago by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr alBaghdadi, which also covers parts of Syria.

The Iraqi air force dropped leaflets on Friday urging residents in the enclave to flee, although humanitarian groups fear for the safety of civilians trying to escape. The enclave covers mainly the Old City center and three adjacent districts alongside the western bank of the Tigris river.

The U.S.-backed offensive on Mosul, now in its eighth month, has taken longer than planned as the militants are dug in among civilians, ghting back with booby traps, suicide cars and motor-bikes, snipers and mortar re. “The joint forces have began liberating the remaining districts,” said an Iraqi military statement.

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