Armenia Wants to Sell-Off More of its Infrastructure
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.