Kerkorian to Invest $250 Million in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Diasporan Armenian benefactor Kirk Kerkorian has offered to invest about $250 million in Armenia–President Robert Kocharian announced at a Tuesday press conference.

Speaking of his meeting with Kerkorian–Kocharian said that the Armenian-American billionaire was well informed of the situation in Armenia and "understood him perfectly." Saying that he was pleased with the fact that Armenia is progressing from "survival to economic development," Kerkorian specified programs–in which he will invest.

According to Kerkorian–$100 million will go toward a fund which allocates loans at low interest rates for the development of small and medium-sized business. Kocharian said that an agreement on the details of the investment of the first $10 million has already been achieved and it will be signed in the near future.

$85 million will be offered for construction of modern roads in Armenia which will allow to increase the republic’s role as a transit commercial zone. The first $35 million will be used for restoration of the Gegharkunik-Siunik highway–which will allow to cut the Georgia-Iran route by 50 km. In the future–jointly with Georgia–a northern section of the highway will be built. Becoming a part of the TRACECA program–the highway will reach Poti and Batumi sea ports. Kocharian said that he had a phone conversation with his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze who positively assessed this project.

$15 million will be allocated for the restoration of the earthquake zone.

The sides also agreed on the necessity of introducing advanced technology in Armenia. Kocharian said he was ready to make every effort to persuade well-known foreign companies to open their offices in Armenia. The president particularly stressed that this program should provide for certain tax privileges.

Kocharian said that a special government agency should be set up to implement and supervise these programs.

He noted that it is necessary to win investors’ confidence and eliminate all bureaucratic obstacles that might hinder their activities in the republic.

According to Kocharian–Kerkorian who visited Armenia for the first time–promised to visit Armenia more frequently.

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