Sept. 96 Events Damaging for Armenia Says Former Prime Minister

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–According to former prime minister Hrant Bagratian–the key factor impeding foreign investment is the lack of investment by Armenian citizens. According to him–it is for that particular reason that "Total" financial company refused to implement an extensive investment program in Armenia’s chemical industry.

Meeting with journalists at the National Press Club on Thursday–Bagratian said he believed that it is the economic restrictions placed on private businessmen–as opposed to the unjustified privileges offered to foreign investors–that is impeding local investment in Armenia. He suggested that there was even an outflow of capital from Armenia.

Bagratian said Armenia’s law enforcement agencies very often used unjustified violent methods against citizens of Armenia–especially against businessmen. He said he unsuccessfully protested such behavior while in office. However–he pointed out that the situation has since approved.

Bagratian stressed that the only prospect for Armenia might be liberal ideology–mostly upheld by the "Liberty" party. Mentioning that the world community mostly upheld the principle of territorial integrity–the former prime minister said that the successful defense of Karabakh’s interests depended on the internal unification of Armenia. "Artsakh should feel our warmth," he added.

He also suggested that Armenia had failed to find a right way of cooperating with the Diaspora. According to him–Armenia is now in touch with only a tenth of Diasporans. The majority of the Diaspora–he said–which holds a fortune of $120 billion–has no contact with Armenia.

Bagratian stated that Armenia’suffered two blows last year which damaged its international position. First–the events following the September 1996 presidential elections weakened Armenia’s democratic image.

The second blow was the resignation of his cabinet which was recognized by the World Bank only a month before as a most efficient cabinet conducting economic reforms in Eastern Europe.

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