Armenia Wants to Sell-Off More of its Infrastructure


The Vorotan power generating station

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

Armenia’s Energy Minister Armen Movisisn on Thursday confirmed that the Armenian government was indeed in talks with a US-based energy company interested in buying Armenia’s largest power-generating facility in Syunik . He did, however, say that the government has not made a final decision.

However, in making the announcement on Wednesday, the US-based ContourGlobal said it was in advanced talks and was willing to contribute significant sums for the power generating plant, with plans to invest significantly in its upgrade.

“While commercial terms are still being finalized the purchase price will be very significant and all of the funds will be sourced from outside of Armenia using a combination of ContourGlobal’s own resources and those of prestigious international financial institutions,” it said in a statement. They include the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the International Finance Corporation, a World Bank Group division, according to the statement.

“In addition to the full purchase price, ContourGlobal will be committing to invest further in a major overhaul of the main generating equipment at the power plants,” added the company. “This investment is urgently needed given the age of the plants and the under investment in recent years.”

The Vorotan plant has the capability to produce as much power as the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant. Any decision about the sale of the Vorotan Plant must be ratified by Parliament, as it is not on a list of state assets that are subject to privatization.

If parliament approves this takeover, it will effectively hand-over the last vestige of its energy infrastructure to a foreign company, forever binding itself to the whims and policies of that corporation, whose priorities do not include the national security interests of Armenia.

What’s also worth noting is that the plants within the Vorotan complex were supposed to be refurbished with 51 million euros ($66 million) in loans that were provided by a German development bank to Armenia in 2010. Officials said at the time that the modernization will be complete by 2015, reported RFE/RL on Wednesday.

This is the second large-scale effort in recent months by Armenia’s government to essentially give away a critical asset in the Syunik region, bordering the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the east, Iran to the south and Turkey to the west.

The notorious scheme to lease pasture land to Iran was vocally opposed by Armenia’s environmental and civic activists, who pointed out the dangers in eventually populating this critical and strategic region by Iranian shepherds.

Successive Armenian leaders have made it a common practice to sell-off critical infrastructure to others. This trend started with the Levon Ter-Petrosian administration and continued with Robert Kocharian and seems to be favored by the Serzh Sarkisian regime.

Let’s take an inventory of what critical aspects of Armenia’s infrastructure are foreign owned: gas, telecommunications, partial power, nuclear power. This scheme will seal the deal and hand over control of ALL of Armenia’s infrastructure to foreigners. This does not include the inventory of Armenia’s natural resources, which during the first Sarkisian term was systematically sold to so-called foreign “investors.”

This latest effort, as was the case in the past, will make some individuals overnight millionaires and the public once again will be left footing the ultimate bill.

If this goes to parliament, Armenia’s legislators should put national interests ahead of their partisan or individual interests and vote this effort down unanimously. However, through its aggressive election fraud mechanism, the ruling regime ensured last year that the parliament will do exactly what the president wants.

10 Responses

for “Armenia Wants to Sell-Off More of its Infrastructure”

  1. jack says:

    I”M JUST WONDERING IN WHO’S POCKET THE MONEY IS GOING TO GO AFTER THE BIG SELL ..AMOT HAZAR AMOT

  2. Armanen says:

    Again, the editor of this newspaper shows that he is partisan and biased.

    Armenia sold various infrastructures because it did not possess either the know how or the cash to refurbish the telecommunication lines, pipelines, nuclear plant, electricity grid, railway, and now this hyrdo-power plant. Perhaps a better criticism could be why the Armenian government has not reached out to wealthy Armenian businessmen from the Diaspora to buy these assets. That way at least an ethnic Armenian would own these strategic assets. However, since the choice we are presented with now is to either maintain the hyrdo-plant in its failing state or to sell it to a firm which will invest and refurbish the said plant, I think the choice is quite clear.

    • Unimpressed with Armenia says:

      You are right that the government should have reached out to diaspora investors, however, considering the history of the last 20 years, that trust has been broken, at least on a significant scale. The logic here of the mismanagement of the country is thus: “now that the disapora are not being fooled like before with our empty promises and the funds are drying up, let’s sell the country off to foreigners instead”. I believe this is one of the reasons Kirkorian pulled out his money and gave it away to an institution that does not even need it.

    • bigmoustache says:

      Who will have to answer if something goes wrong, a foreign company? We should be nationalizing more! What if there’s corruption or negligence? What if they’re not paying the wages properly to the Armenian workers? What if the steal and claim bankruptcy?
      There has to be accountability, i would rather that be the government. Someone you could protest to.
      I’ve heard how the Canadian mining company has been operating in Armenia. This could be a repeat.

    • bigmoustache says:

      Agreed and it kills me that tsarukyan also owns Ararat brandy company. Every Armenian tourist who buys a bottle of cognac puts money into that pigs pocket. And yes we need something drastic to free our nation from the grips of these fat mafia politicians with their stupid nicknames. People like sarkissyan, tsarukyan, khachadryan need to go, and their parties banned for good. I think we need outside tashnag help, from Lebanon.
      Why aren’t we training technicians, armenians who can operate these plants? This is our nation, we need to know how to run it. And were capable of so much. Armenian are smart, always have been. We were the first to pump bakus oil…but that wouldn’t make these select few people richer.
      One day these thugs will end up like mussolini, hanging by their feet

  3. zohrab says:

    dont sell

  4. Padova says:

    I’m wandering what happens to the electric price once it is sold to this company? Will they raise the price of electricity and pass it to the Armenian consumers?

  5. Talin says:

    What happened to the $66M??

  6. Vic Tor says:

    The company itself is set to use funding from the US and UN.
    If funding is an issue, no reason why Armenia cannot call on similar sources.
    If know-how in upgrading it is an issue then an outside company or personnel can be brought in to MANAGE or CONSULT.
    That company could even be ContourGlobal if need be. But that leaves ownership in Armenia’s hands.
    Once the upgrade is finished and operating (by local Armenian staff) what benefit is there to it being foreign owned? None.
    So seek out the same funding sources that this company is, and contract any expertise needed to install it. Pretty obvious.

  7. L says:

    can’t believe that this is happening!!! so sad.

    why do politicians have to be such crooks?!? may their heirs be always be known how they destroyed a nation.

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