Diaspora Investors Pledge $670 Million in Armenia’s Economy

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Two weeks after Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian issued a public appeal for Armenia’s to invest more in Armenia, at least eight major businessmen have announced plans to invest a total of $670 million in Armenia’s economy.

The pledges all came in response to Sarkisian’s appeal made in an address on July 14 at the "BAZE" All Armenian Youth Jamboree in Jermuk. In his remarks to the participants, Sarkisian had said Armenia’s must be more "active and imaginative" in their efforts directed toward the development of the homeland.

Totaling more than half a billion dollars, the investment pledges–all but one of them from Russian based Armenia’s–have already surpassed the total amount registered for foreign investmen’s in Armenia both in 2006 and 2007, with about $600 million being invested each year.

The first statement of intent to invest in Armenia was made public on July 16, when in a letter to President Sarkisian, Samvel Karapetian of the Tashir Group pledged to allocate $200 million for various social and business projects in Armenia and another $50 million for the "implementation of symbolic projects that will support Armenian statehood and serve its future generations."

Another $270 million was pledged last weekend by Ara Abrahamian and Murad Muradian. Abrahamian, who is the Chairman of the Union of Armenia’s in Russia, said in his letter to Sarkisian that he planned to invest $150 million for "new economic initiatives," as well as science and culture. Muradian, the president of Russia’s Bamo holdings, pledged $120 million, saying he was ready to continue investing in the construction industry and housing development programs. BAMO has been one of the leading investors in the ongoing construction boom in Armenia.

In a letter made public on July 22, Armenian-American businessman Serob Ter-Poghosian pledged to invest $50 million for the development of Armenia’s northern Lori Province. In his letter to Sarkisian, Ter-Poghosian, who heads the US based "Metalprince" company, said that he and his partners are ready to invest over three years $50 million in the development of Lori’s industry and tourism spheres.

The following day, the Russia based "ARCH" business group, headed by Vitaly Grigoriants, pledged another $50 million in investmen’s for Armenia’s banking, insurance, and construction and production industries. The $50 million pledge will add to $30 million ARCH has already invested in Armenia’s construction, manufacturing and financial industries.

Smaller investmen’s pledges also came from Sergey Hambardzumian of Monolitnaya Arkhitektura, Gagik Zakarian the chairman of Uniastrum Bank, and Sergey Sarkisov of the RESO-Garantia company. Hambardzumian pledged $10 million for the reconstruction and expansion of the Matenadaran repository of ancient man’scripts. Zakarian pledged to invest $30 million in the finance, mining and the construction spheres, while Sarkisov pledged at least $10 million for various insurance, health and social programs.

The pledges to invest what has now become a total of $670 million in the Armenian Republic come as $236.5 million in US Millennium Challenge Corporation funding has been partially frozen by Washington in what appears to be a politically motivated delay aimed at pressuring the Armenian government.

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