According to Khachatur Kokobelyan, Chairman of the “Free Democrats” Party, the West, alongside the United States, in recent years has undertaken to support democratic processes in Armenia and to promote investment.
In his interview given to Tert.am, referring to US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills’ announcements regarding possible American investments in Armenia, Kokobelyan noticed that the ambassador continues the policy that the United States has applied to Armenia, that is to contribute to the increase of investments.
“The United States has declared many times, particularly during Mills’ term as ambassador, that the issue of increasing investments in Armenia is their priority,” he said.
It should also be mentioned that in his talk to journalists US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills has assured that the US government is considering the means and ways it can support the Armenian government.
“We are considering the possible ways, and it may involve an increase in funding that is allocated to Armenia in the form of support by the International Development Agency and other US government agencies,” he said. He also added that it is too early to talk about substantial investments. In his assessment, corruption and provision of equal conditions for all entrepreneurs were an obstacle to investments. At the same time, he welcomed the current actions of the Armenian government in the fight against corruption. “The efforts of the Armenian government against corruption and provision of equal conditions are supported by the US Investors’ community,” he said.
Khachatur Kokobelyan expressed a view that now, more than ever, both the authorities and the society in Armenia are persistent in the issue of excluding corruption.
“That demand has been formed over the years. The citizen of the Republic of Armenia is fully aware that corruption is the number 1 obstacle because of which s/he is deprived of realizing her/his opportunities. And, of course, the fact that there are no equal competitive conditions in the internal political field, the absence of economic competition hinders both the economy and the country’s development, “he said.
To US Ambassador’s remark that it is too early to speak about substantial investments, maybe they are not in a hurry to support Armenia after the change of power Khachatur Kokobelyan responded, “I do not see such an emphasis in the Ambassador’s announcement whether they hurry up or not. What has initiated in Armenia is a new struggle against corruption, monopolies. I am hopeful that within a reasonable timeframe lots of issues related to monopolies will be understandable. And it is not only the problem of Armenia but that of all institutions located in Armenia since it is impossible to develop the economy when there are monopolies in such small countries as Armenia.”
According to him, not only the authorities but also all political and social institutions of the country should be involved in the development of democracy, i.e., struggle against monopolies and corruption.
Khachatur Kokobelyan stated that that fight should also concern the regulation of natural monopolies in Armenia. “There are natural monopolies in Armenia, such as energy, gas, communications, where there is much work to be done and many issues to be reviewed,” he said.
Before the change of power, according to the leader of the “Free Democrats”, there was not democracy but an imitation of democracy. “This should be fixed. It was not a secret that Armenia had been corrupted, and there had been monopolies here, and today steps are taken to break that atmosphere. They are still making steps. In this regard, one should pay attention to the fact that for foreign investors, whose foundations of production relates to electricity and gas, Armenia is a country where the monopoly of the sectors mentioned above belongs to Russia. If we want to interact with the world, we should clarify for ourselves the relations we have with geopolitical poles, and what privileges we give to this or that pole. I have always mentioned and now will repeat that Armenia should work only for its own interest, “he said.
Khachatur Kokobelyan pointed out that under these conditions, talking about other monopolies, such as “that of napkins,” is not so serious. “We should speak about such monopolies that are the backbone of the economy. And here both the authorities and the citizens of the Republic of Armenia are to take steps for the sake of their own interests. It is necessary for the energetic security of Armenia, for the development of the economy and the provision of competition, “he said.
Kokobelyan also highlighted that foreign investments are typically the continuation of political processes, although sometimes strict economic interest towards each other influences the political relations of the countries.
“We should be able to offer serious programs to the world irrespective of everything,” he said and added that the United States is interested in boosting investments.
“It derives from Armenia-West’s interests in general. Countries like Armenia should be able to present their proposals correctly. I also mean that, in terms of investments, it is necessary to motivate and become the desired platform for investments,” he said mentioning that the steps the RA authorities are taking are perceptible, particularly steps are taken to fight corruption, and elimination of monopolies is being discussed. “As for me, I think that there is still much to be done to eliminate monopolies.”