While the world`s energy executives gathered in Istanbul for the Energy Congress, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan organized an absurd “forum'” in New York. Called Armenia Investment Forum 2016, this gathering neither had anything to do with its name nor provoked any interest. Although official Yerevan wanted to attract investment in Armenia, it found itself in a ridiculous and shameful position. The “forum'” did not feature any serious discussions, no decisions were made at the gathering either. Although the official Armenian propaganda attempted to exaggerate some points, this proved ineffective because people believe in reality rather than in what the Armenian leadership says. In reality, the Armenian population is getting more and more plunged into financial difficulties. The country`s economy is getting increasingly dependent on external factors. Even the incoming prime minister and several ministers complain of the difficulty of the situation. This means that the Armenian government again faces fiasco and is dragging the country into uncertainty.
“Alternative forum”: ineffective event
Contradictions in Armenia`s policy once again demonstrated that the country is not sovereign. Since Armenia was not invited to the 23rd World Energy Congress official Yerevan organized Armenia Investment Forum 2016 as an alternative. President Serzh Sargsyan attended the forum on the same day as the World Energy Congress kicked off in Istanbul. Several Armenian experts, as usual, exaggerated by saying that Sargsyan will hold meetings with American state officials to discuss important geo-political problems. But, as usual, they were mistaken.
Neither large investors attended the forum nor anybody promised to make investment. In fact, the gathering was attended by two or three Armenians, including former prime minister, chairman of the Eurasian Economic Union Tigran Sargsyan, who wasted their time talking to each other. Interestingly, Tigran Sargsyan urged investment making in the Eurasian Economic Union rather than in Armenia. He recommended investing in Belarus and Kazakhstan through Armenia, a proposal deemed ridiculous even by Armenian experts. Why should investors invest in Astana through Yerevan? (see: Наира Айрумян. Инвестиционный интерес к суверенной Армении / "Lragir.am", October 13, 2016).
Serzh Sargsyan`s plea for investment was a fiasco because the forum participants understood that they are invited to invest in the Eurasian Economic Union, which Armenia is dependent on, rather than in the country itself. And the West`s attitude to this organization is clear. But there is another reason behind the fiasco of the Armenian President`s U.S. visit. This is emphasized by Armenian experts.
The point is that Armenia is not a sovereign country. It is a well-known fact that Yerevan is very much dependent on Moscow. A country, which is not sovereign and which lost control of its own economy, cannot attract any serious businessman or large company. If Armenia is not invited to the World Energy Congress or any other economic event of this rank, this means that there are big doubts about independence of the country. Although Yerevan is doing its utmost to hide this axiom, the Armenians are seriously upset about the reality. The following remarks by an Armenian expert reflect the truth to a certain degree. "The logic behind Armenia`s policy and moves taken by its leadership have nothing to do with its real interests as an independent state.” (see: Муса Микаелян. Неопределенный и противоречивый айсберг Армении / "1in.am", October 12, 2016).
This has always been the case. Simply Armenian experts loose the sense of reality on most occasions. But it seems that some things have changed recently as more and more frequently they admit the truth. This demonstrated itself with respect to Serzh Sargsyan`s US visit.
Another step toward disaster: major outcome of New York “forum”
Armenia is unable to hide its situation. The country`s new prime minister and other officials point to serious economic problems. The situation is deemed a disaster by political analysts. The country`s foreign debt is growing, the budget is being reduced. Economic growth is much lower than expected, actually, there is almost no growth. Population`s ability to pay taxes has considerably decreased. Next year`s budget faced a 100 billion dram cut. But taxation was raised two per cent. These are figures for today. The situation is deteriorating day by day.
So what development are the Armenians talking about? How long can they deceive people? Citizens understand that despite the statistics their living standard is not improving. On the contrary, the situation is deteriorating. But the Armenian government is talking about the Eurasian Economic Union. This means that there are contradictions between promises and deeds. And the Armenians fully realize this now.
It is official Yerevan`s negligent policy that lies at the heart of this problem. No country can develop if it is not independent and cannot make decisions on its own. All major decisions taken by Armenia are in the best interests of its patrons. The entire Armenian society is moaning at this paradoxical situation.
Therefore the "forum” organized by Serzh Sargsyan in New York is absolutely ineffective and will hardly be. American businessmen will never run a risk of investing in a small country, which has no prospects, which is dependent on other country – they are pragmatics and they will never betray their interests for anyone.
Therefore Serzh Sargsyan`s attempts to present Armenia as a country attractive for foreign investment was a complete fiasco. In reality, those "arguments” work against Serzh Sargsyan himself because everyone knows that they are false. This unsuccessful attempt exposed official Yerevan`s hypocrisy, indecision, and unstable political course.
Experts call Serzh Sargsyan`s attempt to present Armenia as a country that has access to "large markets” as trickery because, in fact, he implies the Eurasian Economic Union. Russia plays a leading role here. The West`s attitude towards Moscow is a well-known fact. Russia is now facing tougher sanctions. Several Russian officials are on the travel blacklist of Western countries. Then Serzh Sargsyan, in fact, advocates Russian interests. This will naturally provoke dislike of both the White House and American businessmen.
In this context, Serzh Sargsyan`s describing Armenia as “a favourable crossroads” causes aversion. Moreover, one can say that official Yerevan`s foreign policy is the "crossroads” itself since the Armenian leadership has been hesitating about choosing a geo-political line for years. Although close to Russia, Armenia is seeking closeness with the West too. Everyone sees Armenia`s uncertain moves and draws appropriate conclusions. Investing in Armenia is a risky business. The country has failed to play the role of crossroads so far, and this will definitely be so in the future too. Has Armenia been the crossroads for any large companies so far? No serious businessman has ever invested largely in the country. And a lack of any prospects is evidenced by official Yerevan`s policy.
Armenia can count on donations, at best, handouts. Undoubtedly, this will be the case. At this violent time someone who has the common sense will hardly build economic cooperation with a vassal like Armenia. In addition, Yerevan occupied the lands of its neighbour, and continues this policy helped by its patrons. A serious person will never invest in a country that may come under fire at any time. So Serzh Sargsyan babbled again. It is his habit, which he cannot break.
The Armenian leadership once again proved that it has unserious and unfounded position. The gathering that they organized in the USA was a caricature. Neither the issues discussed nor the decisions made at this event provoked anybody`s interest. Not a single businessman announced the intention to invest in Armenia. Serzh Sargsyan dealt another blow to Armenia`s budget which is formed at the cost of taxpayers.