ARF Welcomes Telecom Monopoly Ban

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–a member of Armenia’s government coalition–welcomed on Friday–the government’s decision to unilaterally abolish ArmenTel’s 15-year monopoly granted by a 1998 takeover contract.

A subsidiary of the Greek Hellenic Telecommunication Organization (OTE)–ArmenTel is accused by the Armenian government of violating the key terms of its 1998 sale to OTE–and failing to meet its investment commitmen’s by not providing reliable telecom services for which it was granted the exclusive–long-term contract.

ARF Supreme Body Representative Armen Rustamian called the Armenian government’s motion during its Thursday session a "long-expected and necessary step."

He stressed that because ArmenTel–through its monopoly–failed to improve the quality of the country’s telephone network–it is necessary to revoke its status. The government’s move–he said–is the first step in bringing about significant change. ArmenTel’s telecommunications monopoly was ratified by Armenian Parliament in 1998.

The ARF–said Rustamian–has consistently criticized the ArmenTel monopoly. "We have always considered that any legal or illegal forms of a monopoly are not normal–and in fact hinder economic development of all sectors–not just telecommunications."

In January 1999–the ARF launched a campaign protesting the low quality of connections–monopoly rights–and increased tariffs. The ARF’s Parliamentary faction has also presented similar concerns.

If the Armenian government’s proposal to dismantle the monopoly is accepted–action should be taken–cautioned Rustamian–to ensure that the initiative is not misconstrued as a step against investing in Armenia. "In fact–ensuring proper competition in the telecommunications sector would only bring improvemen’s–and make it easier to invest in this country," Rustamian said.

"The ARF Faction in Parliament will vote for the bill banning the right to a monopoly in the telecommunications sector."


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