N. Bordyuzha: Russia sold arms to Azerbaijan to keep military parity in South Caucasus
 Wednesday, June 26 2013 07:51

 When selling arms to Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation was guided with the principle of military parity in the South Caucasus, CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha told media in Yerevan, on June 26.

He said Russia sells arms to dozens of countries. This business is one of Russia's economic development priorities. Arms are sold also to the countries not involved in the CSTO, Bordyuzha said. In the case of the South Caucasus, specifically, Azerbaijan, the key factor that influenced the decision to sell arms to Azerbaijan was to keep parity in the security field in the region, Bordyuzha said.

On June 15 reports on the supply of military hardware to Azerbaijan by Russia flooded Mass Media. The military hardware being supplied to Baku is worth between $700 million and $1 billion and includes 94 T- 90S tanks, about 100 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 Msta-S howitzers, 18 Smerch rocket launchers, 18 Vena "floating mortars," and six TOS-1A Solntsepek multiple launch rocket systems. Only in 2010- 2011 Russia supplied arms in the amount of nearly $3 billion to Azerbaijan.

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Motion of Azerbaijani lobbyists to deprive Armenia of chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe failed
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 14:37

Motion of 31 PACE delegates to deprive Armenia of chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe failed, a member of Armenia's delegation to PACE, Naira Zohrabyan, told Arminfo correspondent.

"As a result of discussions, it became clear that these delegates are considered to be the delegates which eat caviar brought from Azerbaijan. For this reason, PACE thought the given motion is not serious", - she said.

To recall, a group of PACE delegates issued a motion to resolution on Armenia's chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The motion signed by delegates from UK, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Bulgaria and Ireland, says Armenia was welcomed as a new PACE member 12 years ago.

"Expectations both in the Council of Europe as in the global international community were that Armenia's membership to our European forum for democracy would contribute to an acceleration of the pacification of the South Caucasus.

In several resolutions by the international community, Armenia was clearly identified as an aggressor State which was repeatedly condemned for armed aggression, also by the Council of Europe, as Armenia's attitude in this regard is in clear contradiction with the Parliamentary Assembly's fundamental principles," the motion reads.

The delegates express their concern over this attitude by Armenia.

"We believe that it would be right and proper to recommend to the Committee of Ministers that they should seriously review the position of Armenia during their incoming presidency and they should apply whatever pressure they can on the Armenian authorities to ensure that they take immediate steps to remedy the position of Armenia as an aggressive State.

We further recommend to the Bureau of the Assembly that a report and resolution be produced on the failure of the Armenian authorities to comply with international resolutions. This report should also include an assessment of initiatives which in this regard were taken by the Assembly since the moment Armenia joined the Council of Europe.

The Assembly's report should clearly identify the main obstacles and political actors and their responsibility, and draw the appropriate conclusions. Concrete recommendations for the near future should be formulated and this topic should be put high on the agenda during the Armenian chairmanship."

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Financial protection is one of the weak links of Armenia's health system: World Bank's Report on Health in Europe and Central Asia
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 13:06

Key government officials and policy makers dealing with health care issues in Armenia discussed main findings of the new World Bank report "Getting Better:  Improving Health System Outcomes in Europe and Central Asia". According to the report, the progress in health outcomes in countries of Europe and Central Asia (ECA) has been among the slowest in the world over the past fifty years. The report makes recommendations to improve health outcomes, ensure proper financing, and strengthen institutional arrangements in order to enhance the health systems in the region.

The life expectancy gap between ECA and Western Europe has widened significantly since the 1960s, while other middle-income regions have caught up and overtaken ECA. Armenia did better before 1990 than it has since. Very recently, trends have started to improve in a larger number of countries, but full parity with Western Europe is still a long way off.

"The major cause of the populations' ill health in ECA is heart disease," said Owen Smith, World Bank Senior Health Economist and co-author of the report. "These conditions account for over half of the life expectancy gap between ECA and Western Europe. The predominance of cardiovascular disease across the whole region represents an obvious target for policy action."

In Armenia 50% of men are regular smokers. Preventive actions targeting major risk factors are necessary for reducing cardiovascular disease mortality. Among the most important of these are tobacco and alcohol use. In Armenia, addressing cardiovascular disease mortality will require a combination of higher tobacco taxes, better control of high blood pressure through primary care, and measures to improve the quality of care at all levels of the health system.

The report suggests that both prevention and treatment must play a central role in the future health agenda in countries across the region, in particular through wider implementation of cost- effective measures.

Financial protection is one of the weak links of Armenia's health system, as a significant proportion of households face the risk of impoverishment due to high medical bills, while the level of inequality in access to health care between rich and poor is one of the highest in the Europe and Central Asia region. Improving financial protection will require some combination of expanded benefit packages, better targeting of health programs to vulnerable groups, and measures to reduce informal payments.

"The economic crisis forced half of the poorest households in Armenia to decrease spending on health care," says Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia. "To ensure that better health care is financed in a way that does not impose an excessive burden on households, we are supporting the country in improving better targeting of the services to the poor through support to disease prevention and control, while increasing the efficiency of government health spending."

To protect government budgets from wasteful health spending, the report suggests improving efficiency by eliminating excess hospital infrastructure, introducing service delivery innovations, and strengthening information about provider performance. In addition, it will also be important to achieve lower pharmaceutical expenditures by households and governments alike by adopting more rational prescription practices and smarter procurement methods.

According to the report, there is no single ideal health system model or "recipe" for achieving better outcomes. Although Armenia has made important progress on many aspects of the institutional agenda in recent years, much remains to be done, especially with regard to strengthening the accountability of health care providers and achieving a higher degree of pooling health care resources. One of the suggested ways for strengthening the institutional arrangements that govern health systems is by adopting some key "ingredients" that are common to most advanced countries, but still absent in much of ECA.

Talking to media, Saro Tsaturyan, Head of the State healthcare Agency, Armenian Healthcare Ministry, said that with the support of the WB Armenia is going to implement a project aimed at prevention and screening of three non-infectious diseases that are most common reasons of death: diabetics, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Starting 2014 and within the following 3 years the population in Armenia will undergo screening for early detention of the above diseases and more productive treatment.  According to the WHO reports, life expectancy in Armenia is 73 years. The lowest indicator
was registered in Kazakhstan (68.7 years) while the highest is in Switzerland (82.2 years). Armenia is on the 34th position in tern of life expectancy in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.

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N. Patrushev: There is enough force and funds to provide security of Armenia
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 13:05

 There is enough force and funds to provide security of Armenia and there is no reason for concern, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev told media in Yerevan, Tuesday, when commenting on the latest sale of Russian arms to Azerbaijan. 

Patrushev said that Russia supplies weapons to Azerbaijan to fulfill its international agreements, which is not illegal.He spotlighted that Armenia and Russia are strategic partners.

"Visiting the Russian military base No.102 in Gyumri, Armenia, we made sure that our soldiers, frontier- guards reliably protect the security of Armenia. We don't doubt in it," Patrushev said. 

On June 15 reports on the supply of military hardware to Azerbaijan by Russia flooded Mass Media. The military hardware being supplied to Baku is worth between $700 million and $1 billion and includes 94 T- 90S tanks, about 100 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 Msta-S howitzers, 18 Smerch rocket launchers, 18 Vena "floating mortars," and six TOS-1A Solntsepek multiple launch rocket systems. Only in 2010- 2011 Russia supplied arms in the amount of nearly $3 billion to Azerbaijan.

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Areximbank-Gazprombank Group takes part in Digitec Expo 2013
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 13:04

 Areximbank-Gazprombank Group has taken part in Digitec Expo 2013, where it has presented its e-commerce services.

Areximbank is the first Armenian bank to have been certified by Visa in the field of acquiring.

The press service of the bank says that the lack of such a service has long been regarded as the key obstacle to the development of e-commerce in Armenia. Now things are beginning to change and lots of internet stores are being opened in the country this year.

"We are connecting an average of two outlets to this service each month. As of now we are the only Armenian bank providing e-commerce services, and Digitec has become an excellent chance for us to make this known to a wide range of users. During the expo we presented the new capacities of our Visa Business card as well as our corporate card terms. E-commerce reflects a country's economic status. So, if we succeed in this field, we may expect serious progress in our economy," says Alexander Hakobyan, Head of the Marketing Department of Areximbank-Gazprombank Group.

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Lawyer: Assassination attempt on Paruyr Hayrikyan was politically motivated
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 13:03

The assassination attempt on the leader of National Self-Determination Union Party Paruyr Hayrikyan was politically motivated, Hayrikyan's friend, lawyer Karo Yeghnukyan told journalists on Tuesday.

"I agree with Hayrikyan that the attempt was organized by the Russian imperialists. Vartan Ayvazyan is not the key actor here but just a link of a big chain," Yeghnukyan said.

Hayrikyan's lawyer Levon Baghdasaryan said that he would do his best to find and punish those guilty.

The assassination attempt on Hayrikyan was committed on Jan 31.  Hayrikyan was then a presidential candidate. The key suspect is another former presidential candidate Vartan Ayvazyan.

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Patients in Armenia still pay for free health care services
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 13:02

 Almost half of patients in Armenia still pay for intensive cure services even though they are free of charge, says an analysis of the health care service co-funding program.  The program was launched in Feb 2011 to help socially disadvantaged people to pay for first aid and some other medical services.

While presenting the analysis, Karine Harutyunyan from the Economic Development and Research Center (EDRC) said that 23% of the program's beneficiaries still pay unofficially for the services. "The problem is that only half of them are aware of the program," Harutyunyan said.

Another EDRC representative Yelena Mankyan said that 72bln AMD will be budgeted for health care in 2013. This is 10.5% more than in 2012 but the greater part of the additional money is to be provided by the World Bank under its second program to modernize Armenia's health care system.

Manukyan said that the growth in the budgetary financing will not be seen because of growing prices in this sector.

"The only way here is to substantially increase budgetary financing in 2014 and to launch a program to make health care services better and cheaper," Manukyan said.

The survey has been carried out by EDRC and OXFAM.

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Nature Protection Minister and British Ambassador to Armenia discuss Amulsar project
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 10:25


Nature Protection Minister of Armenia Aram Haroutiunyan received British Ambassador to Armenia Katherine Jane Leach on June 25, the ministry press-service reported.

Ambassador Leach touched upon the Amulsar deposit and asked the minister to support the investor company. The two parties came out for improvement of the mechanisms to reduce environment pollution from mining activities. The minister said that the mining activities must meet international standards not to cause any environmental damage to Jermuk resort town, Lake Sevan, and the nearby area and bio-diversity.

"We are guided with the green economy ideology and every environmental project, including Amulsar, must be perfect," the minister said.

The Ambassador, in turn, said that the parties are well aware of the project's importance, but it is necessary to use every opportunity not to make it vulnerable.

Geoteam CJSC was founded in Armenia in 2005. 95% of its shares belong to Lydian International Ltd.  According to the preliminary data of the company, over 40 tons of gold will be mined from the Amulsar deposit. The International Finance Corporation (16.5% stake) and the EBRD (7.5% stake) are among Lydian International's shareholders. Experts believe that this circumstance will sure help adequately assessing the basic environmental risks of the project.

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Newly elected president of Iran announces intention to boost multi-vector cooperation with Armenia
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 09:29

Newly elected president of Iran Hassan Rouhani has announced an intention to boost the multi-vector cooperation with Armenia, Iranian Mehr news agency reported.  The Iranian president expressed such an intention in response to congratulations of President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.

President Rouhani said Iran hopes that the efforts of Iran and Armenia will boost development of the bilateral relations in all fields. "We will be expanding our cooperation with Armenia through mutual understanding, confidence and mutual respect," the Iranian president said.

Former Secretary of the Supreme Council of the Iranian National Security Council Hassan Rouhani was elected president on May 12 with 52.3% of votes.

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Exchange rate of dram against US dollar and EUR
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 08:51

Today, the maximum buying rates at commercial banks of Yerevan were 410 drams for 1 dollar, 537drams for 1 EUR and 12,4 drams for 1 Russian ruble. The minimum selling rates stood at 411 drams for 1 dollar, 540,5 drams for 1 EUR and 12,6 drams for 1 Russian ruble .

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Nalbandian: Ratification and implementation of Zurich Protocols rests upon Turkey
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 08:50

Ratification and implementation of the Zurich Protocols rests upon Turkey, Armenian Foreign Minister, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Edward Nalbandian, said answering the questions of the PACE delegates, on June 24.

The minister said that it was Yerevan's initiative to establish dialogue between Armenia and Turkey.

"After long and hard process of negotiations we finally agreed and signed protocols in October 2009 in Zurich. Unfortunately, Turkey refuses to ratify the documents and fulfill its commitments without pre- conditions," the minister said.

Nalbandian said that in this aspect Armenia's stance coincides with the stances of many countries, including CoE member-states, USA and Russia.

"The ball is in Turkey's field. Ratification and fulfillment of the protocols rests upon Ankara," he said.

Armenia and Turkey signed the "Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations" and the "Protocol on the development of bilateral relations" in Zurich on October 10.  Following Turkey's unwillingness to ratify the protocols and attempts to link ratification with the Karabakh conflict made President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan sign a decree on suspension of the procedure of ratification of the Armenian -Turkish protocols. After the protocols were removed from agenda of the Turkish parliament in August 2011 as the term of the parliament of the previous convocation expired, in some two months they were returned to the agenda of the Turkish national assembly. However, the term of their ratification has not been determined yet.

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Robert Kocharyan's spokesperson refutes reports on cooperation with Aristotle
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 08:46

 Robert Kocharyan's spokesperson Victor Soghomonyan has refuted the reports about cooperation of the second president's office and Aristotle lobbying group, USA.

"It does not correspond to reality,"  Soghomonyan told ArmInfo.

Earlier today, a Yerevan-based Zhamanak Daily reported that second president Robert Kocharyan's office decided to establish cooperation with Aristotle. The paper writes that the organization is mainly engaged in grassroots consulting in the US state and political circles in favor of a foreign political figure. John Evans, former ambassador of USA to Armenia, will be coordinating the work with the organization. The source reports that the former U.S. diplomat hopes for cooperation with the U.S. Office of the Hay Dat Bureau and the Armenian Assembly of America.

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Newspaper: The ruling elite in Armenia seriously displeased with Ishkhan Zakaryan, Head of Supervisory Chamber
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 08:22

The ruling elite in Armenia is seriously displeased with Ishkhan Zakaryan, Head of Supervisory Chamber, over the Chamber's recent exposures in the activity of some government structures and fact of embezzlement of the budget funds, a local newspaper Hraparak writes. 

Rumors about Zakaryan's possible dismissal are based on statements of some high-ranking officials who slam Zakaryan for excess of power. The paper writes that Zakaryan has discrepancies also with his staff that allegedly impedes inspections and leads to information leakage.

Hraparak writes that Zakaryan's only hope is President Serzh Sargsyan, who does not mind leaving Zakaryan on his position so far.

Earlier, on June 20, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said in the government that the statement by Ishkhan Zakaryan, head of the Supervisory Chamber of Armenia, saying that 70% of the state budget expenditures are risky, does not correspond to reality.

"70% of the state budget is 700 bln drams. If what the Supervisory Chamber says is true, there is large- scale corruption in all the regions, which does not correspond to reality. The Supervisory Chamber is a specialized structure and has no right to make political statements. It is authorized to prepared resolutions on some issues, nothing else," the premier said.  He said that any public allegations against departments and ministers must be responded.

"I charge you to respond to allegations. You must either refute the information or assume responsibility for the violations," the prime minister told the Cabinet.      

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National Security Service of Armenia detains Defense Ministry officer over espionage
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 08:21

 National Security Service of Armenia has detained a Defense Ministry officer Mane Movsisyan (1982) over espionage, the NSS press-service told ArmInfo.

According to irrefutable facts, since Jan 2012, before enlistment, M. Movsisyan communicated on the social networks Odnoklassniki, Facebook and Mail.ru agent with an officer of the Azerbaijani Special Services operating in the territory of Turkey. The Azerbaijani officer registered on the given social networks under the nicknames S.Dr>, <Seryan Dervisyan,  <Tigran Dervisyan.  Their correspondence continued also after Movsisyan entered into service at the Armenian Defense Ministry. By the existing data, she had been transferring information of military, state and service secrecy to the Azerbaijani special services.

The Nagorno Karabkh Republic National Security Service, in turn, detained two persons, including NKR Defense Army officer, over similar crime. 

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Armenian FM: Armenia's stance coincides with that of OSCE Mi co-chair-states
 Tuesday, June 25 2013 08:20

Armenia's approaches fully coincide with the stance of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair-states, Armenian Foreign Minister, Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Edward Nalbandian, said answering the questions of the PACE delegates, on June 24, the Armenian Foreign Ministry press-service told ArmInfo.

The source reports Nalbandian as saying that Yerevan fully supported the previous statements by the US, French and Russian presidents unlike Azerbaijan that supports only one principle.  Armenia has always supported the principles of non-use of force of threat of force, the people's right to self-determination, and the territorial integrity of states. Despite constant calls to refrain from provocative statements, Baku continues its trigger-happy policy and propagates xenophobia, the minister said.  He said that the Council of Europe can greatly contribute to the dialogue and confidence-building between the parties. In addition, Nalbandian said, the Secretary General included the issue of frozen conflicts into the list of the priorities of the Committee of Ministers.

Asked if Armenia will use its chairmanship at the Committee of Ministers as a good opportunity to resolve the conflict, Nalbandian said that Armenia has no problems with establishment of dialogue and conducting negotiations. He recalled that Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers held dozens of meetings along with several meetings of the two presidents. The point is that one of the parties denies all the principles proposed by the co-chairs, even those aimed to boost confidence-building measures.  The minister said that he intends to meet with the OSCE MG co-chairs within the coming days.

Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Franбois Hollande, President of the French Republic issued a statement on the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict on the margins of the G8 Summit held in Northern Ireland. "We continue to firmly believe that the elements outlined in the statements of our countries over the last four years must be the foundation of any fair and lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. These elements should be seen as an integrated whole, as any attempt to select some elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution...We strongly urge the leaders of all the sides to recommit to the Helsinki principles, particularly those relating to the non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples. We also appeal to them to refrain from any actions or rhetoric that could raise tension in the region and lead to escalation of the conflict. The leaders should prepare their people
for peace, not war," the statement reads.

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Public Organization: Unexposed case of military doctor Vahe Avetyan's death - death of every Armenian
 Monday, June 24 2013 11:51

Unexposed case of military doctor Vahe Avetyan's death - death of every Armenian, says the Armenian Revival Organization's German branch in a statement disseminated, Monday. 

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Farmers of Armavir block off traffic again
 Monday, June 24 2013 11:29

The residents of several villages of Armavir region have blocked off traffic on the Armavir-Gyumri road.   

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PACE President ready to discuss Karabakh conflict with Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations
 Monday, June 24 2013 11:28

PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon has expressed desire to discussed the Karabakh conflict with the Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations, RIA Novosti reported.

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Secretary of Prosperous Armenia Faction: Armenia's state budget gradually stops being property of a narrow group of people
 Friday, June 21 2013 13:19

 There are internal problems between the Government of Armenia and the Control Chamber. The Head of the Control Chamber seriously blames the government members for serious abuse and fraud, and against this background it is noteworthy that the state budget is no longer anything inviolable in the hands of a narrow group of people, Naira Zohrabyan, Secretary of the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) faction, told ArmInfo.   

She thinks that the abuse by the middle management could not occur without the approval of the higher management.   

Zohrabyan said that in order to eliminate the total corruption, the top leadership should display a political will, because no reports of the Control Chamber will help without the political will of the power. She stressed that if the power lacks a political will to cut off the thieves' hands, the parliamentary hearings on the Control Chamber's report will be just waste of time, a performance and a show.   

"But there is one positive thing - the large-scale abuse is spoken about in public, and this inspires hope that the situation will be improved in the future. This may give an impetus to specific measures following the public hearings", she said.

To recall, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said at the Government's session that the figures Ishkhan Zakaryan presents about the abuse have nothing to do with the reality. Sargsyan said that 70% of the state budget is 700 bln AMD, and if one believes the Control Chamber, it turns out that all fields experience large-scale corruption, which is impossible. In the meantime, the Premier instructed his ministers either to deny the information or to be called to account.

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Azerbaijan highly appreciates statement issued by leaders of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states at G-8 summit
 Friday, June 21 2013 13:08

 "We highly appreciate the statement issued by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states as a part of G-8 summit and thank them for focusing attention on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict", President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said at a joint press conference with President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy.

According to APA, he stated that the Azerbaijani side fully supports the statements on the necessity of proper steps for finding a solution to the conflict.

He added that it is important that the statement refers to the principles of Helsinki Final Act as the basis of the solution to the conflict.

"The right to self-determination should not run contrary to the principle of territorial integrity. Armenians have already achieved self-determination, they have the state of Armenia," he said.

Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan is interested in the soonest solution of the conflict basing on the international law and principles, as well as UN resolutions.

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