Oskanian Discusses Positive Effects of Turkish Blockade

WASHINGTON–DC–Turkey’s economic blockade of Armenia has had an unexpected positive effect on the economy–said Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–in a June 17 interview with The Washington Times.

Oskanian said the Turkish embargo–imposed on Armenian since the early 1990s–has forced Armenia to diversify its economy

"We are developing and developing well. We are more efficient–more effective," he told Washington Times correspondent Tom Carter in an interview at the Armenian Embassy last week.

"We have strengthened our [information technology] industry. We have diversified into diamonds and jewelry: things that can go out on satellite or in small pouches on airplanes."

Oskanian met with Secretary of State Colin Powell–National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and a host of Congressional members during his brief working visit.

The foreign minister stated that Armenia was gratified for being selected as part of the Millennium Challenge Account–which will give the country access to US financial aid in the next three to five years.

"There are billions of dollars available–which will be extremely valuable to our economy," noted Oskanian–predicting that his country will continue to liberalize the economy–invest in "human capital" and improve human rights and the rule of law.

Oskanian said Armenia’supported the US-led effort to liberate Iraq–although it did not provide troops. Armenia granted permission for coalition planes to fly over its territory and is prepared to send a specialist team to help remove land mines.

The minister also said Armenia’s relationship with the European Union improved this week when the union welcomed Armenia–Azerbaijan and Georgia under its "neighborhood policy," which aims to encourage ties with the European bloc. However–he added that the designation does not guarantee membership.

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