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Environmentalists ask Prosecutor General's Office to examine Mego Gold's license to develop Tukhmanuk deposit
 Friday, May 31 2013 14:12

 A group of environmentalists have asked the Prosecutor General's Office to examine Mego Gold's license to develop the Tukhmanuk deposit.

Head of Ecological Academy NGO Greta Gabrielyan told journalists on Friday that the license given to Mego Gold (subsidiary of Global Gold Mining) in 2005 said that the company could develop Tukhmanuk using the opencast method for just two years and then had to switch to underground mining. But the company still uses the former method.

Gabrielyan said that Dec 28 2012 the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry granted Mego Gold a mining allotment certificate saying that it could use the surface mining method.

"It was an illegal decision as such an act cannot provide such a right unless preceded by special legislative procedures. No single public or expert discussion has been held on this matter in the last two years.  Even more no legal framework has been adopted since 2005 to allow the deposit's opencast development. So, we have urged the Prosecutor General's Office and the National Security Service to inquire into this situation," Gabrielyan said.

Early this year the Union of Greens of Armenia and the Public Environmental Alliance sent Global Gold Mining CEO Van Krikorian an open letter demanding that the company stop its activities in Armenia and pay the damages caused by its Tukhmanuk project.

Director of the Armenian Branch of Global Gold Mining Ashot Poghosyan told ArmInfo later that the charges were groundless and that they monitored the area on a constant basis.

In Apr 2013 the Environment Protection Ministry dismissed Mego Gold's project to build a third tailing dump near Tukhmanuk.

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EIF Director: A total of $10mln needed for multilateral investment program to create a national software laboratory in Armenia
 Friday, May 31 2013 14:10

A total of $10mln is needed for the multilateral investment program to create a national software laboratory in Armenia, Director of the Enterprises Incubator
Foundation (EIF) Bagrat Yengibaryan said in an interview to ArmInfo.

"Some software companies have already agreed to provide funds for the program. Now we are planning to negotiate with international donors," Yengibaryan said.

He said that the laboratory will train as many as 2,000 specialists a year.

Yengibaryan said that an Armenian National Engineering Laboratory will be opened on the basis of the State Engineering University of Armenia in the next few weeks to train an average of 1,500 specialists a year.

He said that this project was financed by National Instruments from the United States ($1.5mln), the Armenian Government ($350,000), the State Engineering University of Armenia ($650,000) and USAID. 

Yengibaryan believes that the laboratory program should be sponsored by several companies as software programming has lots of fields and no company - big as it may be - can cover all of them. 

He said that the laboratory will help to solve of the key problems of Armenia's IT sector - lack of personnel. "As of today we have some 9,300 specialists and about 370 companies, but the Government's IT development concept for 2008-2018 says that in 2018 we will have more than 18,000 specialists and as many as 1,000 companies. In 2012 our IT sector earned $250mln, in 2018 it is supposed to earn as much as $1bln," Yengibaryan said.

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Turkish MP: Turkey is willing to ratify Armenian-Turkish protocols
 Friday, May 31 2013 14:09

 Turkey is willing to ratify the Armenian- Turkish protocols, the head of the Turkish delegation to PACE Nursuna Memecan told journalists in Yerevan.

She did not say why Turkey has not ratified the protocols so far. She just expressed belief that the document will be returned to the Turkish Parliament.

Memecan believes that not only Armenian-Turkish but also Armenian-Azeri relations will be normalized.

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PACE Standing Committee signs declaration on Karabakh in Yerevan
 Friday, May 31 2013 14:07

PACE Standing Committee signed a declaration on Karabakh conflict during the meeting in Yerevan on Friday.

"The search for a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a commitment taken by Armenia and by Azerbaijan upon their accession to the Council of Europe. In this context, we express our full support to the negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, on the basis of the "Madrid principles" which establish a framework for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Assembly urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to seize the opportunity offered by their respective chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, to promote reconciliation between these two member states and their populations, as well as to intensify the search, in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This should be reflected in the respective priorities of these two chairmanships.

Our Assembly is ready to do everything it can, through parliamentary diplomacy, to facilitate dialogue and establish a climate of trust between parliamentarians from both member States," the declaration reads.

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Viewpoint from Stepanakert: Changing of status-quo does not at all mean yielding territories to Azerbaijan
 Friday, May 31 2013 14:05

When speaking about the status-quo in Karabakh conflict and the impossibility of its preserving, many people understand it like a hint to yield territories to Azerbaijan.
Actually, changing of the status-quo does not at all mean yielding territories, the head of the General Information Department of the NKR president's staff, David Babayan, told journalists today.

"To change status-quo means to settle the conflict. Azerbaijan will recognize Artsakh, and Artsakh - Azerbaijan and the conflict will be settled. We categorically rule out yielding territories", - he said.

He also added that to understand the core of the conflict, one has to look into the root of the conflict, which arose from breaking of Artsakh. It is no secret that earlier only a part of the historic Artsakh became the territory of Nagornyy Karabakh Autonomous  Region. This situation developing for 70 years, was unacceptable. For this reason, they made an attempt to subordinate Nagornyy Karabakh directly to  the center - Moscow. "Further events showed that this option is incorrect. That time, Nagornyy Karabakh decided to self-determine. As a result, we saw Azerbaijan's aggression against Nagornyy Karabakh. As a result of the battle actions, we have got a situation which is preserved for 20 years. This option proved its vitality. For this reason, to go back to the reality of 1988 or 1991 is unrealistic", - Babayn said.

When commenting on a statement by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Babayan said one should not understand the recent statements by the Russian diplomat as a matter of fact. "The problem of territories is important to Azerbaijan, our problems differ. We have to negotiate and make arrangements. Of course, we categorically rule out yielding  territories, as these territories are the guarantor of the NKR security. As for Moscow, I don't think that it  is trying to impose pressure upon the Armenian party, as it has always preserved a neutral attitude", - Babayan said.

To recall, Sergey Lavrov said at the joint press-conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart that status-quo is unacceptable for everybody, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh.

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Brazilian Embassy in Armenia has no information on Brazilian MP's statement supporting territorial integrity of Azerbaijan
 Friday, May 31 2013 14:04

Brazilian Embassy in Armenia has no information on the statement by Nelson Pelegrino, Head of the Brazilian Parliament Committee for Foreign Affairs and National
Defense in support of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The Embassy pledges to provide the necessary explanation as soon as it receives relevant information, the Embassy told ArmInfo.

Earlier, Azerbaijani media reported that Nelson Pelegrino, who was on a visit to Azerbaijan, declared that Brazil's National Congress would adopt a resolution on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and provision of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the near future. He said that this issue was discussed during the meeting with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and it was decided to adopt the resolution soon.

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Amulsar: Responsible mining, sustainable development
 Friday, May 31 2013 12:59

Geoteam has always presented all its stakeholders with timely and relevant information. We would once again like to address some issues and concerns around the project to emphasise several points.

Geoteam CJSC who operates the Amulsar gold project is an Armenian registered company, subject to all Armenian laws and taxes, and is the 100% owned subsidiary of Lydian International.

Lydian International is a publicly listed company and the “owners” of the company are thousands of shareholders worldwide. Anybody can become a shareholder as the case of any public company listed in the international market that is the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in our case.

Lydian International’s headquarters are in Jersey, UK.

We would like to emphasise that it is the first international project in Armenia that presents a wide range of reputable international institutional investors, many of whom are bringing their investments to Armenia for the first time. The list of some of Lydian institutional investors can be found  here.

It took Lydian International considerable effort to present Armenia as a favourable investment destination to major banks and financial institutions around the world. There are a lot of mining projects   found in more appealing investment jurisdictions and better known investment environments such as Australia, Canada, Russia, Brazil and South Africa. We consider it a big success to have been able to bring some of these investments to Armenia. The success of the Amulsar project will open up Armenia to  wider international investment community thus bringing transparent worldwide investments into different sectors of the Armenian economy, not just mining.  Trust is the most difficult asset to obtain from investors in these times of economic volatility worldwide, so we are glad to have won it among reputable investors. The challenge now for the Company as well as for the country is to maintain and broaden that trust into the future.

The company is not yet making any cash flow from the Amulsar mine and with production planned to start in late 2015, we have already invested more than $50 million into the economy, provided well paid jobs and been involved with economic activity and tangible social benefits in the region. In fact, thanks to the project there is now an in-migration in the surrounding villages and out-migration has reduced since the project began in 2007.

Geoteam now employs not only 160 people in the surrounding villages; it also employs high-class local specialists such as geologists, engineers, mapping specialists, environmentalists, biologists etc.

We think it is important to emphasise, that from the financial point of view the country as a whole benefits more from this kind of a Greenfield project than does the company that brings the initial investments.  Once the project starts bringing revenues; that is at least several years from now, the company will get only around 24 percent of the price of the extracted gold and around the same amount 22% will go direct to the state budget in form of taxes and royalties. The rest of the money around the 54% will constitute the capital and operational expenditures, the bulk of which will again be invested in the country in the form of salaries, construction and services.

Environmental concerns

The project’s environmental management plan is an exemplary one, and is in line with the highest international standards and best practice. Since early exploration the company has invested unprecedented resources, time and effort to ensure the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment is carried out by the best and most reputable international companies and the best available mitigation measures and environmental management is in place. This is not only due to the requirements of our major shareholders, IFC and EBRD, but also because the company is fully committed to building a world-class operation in Armenia. Our management team has long experience of working in these kinds of projects in countries like the US, Australia, Canada and Spain.

The International Environmental and Social Impact Assessment will be finalised and publically disclosed later this year.

Armenia warrants having considerable foreign investments and sustainable development of its mining sector that will benefit the country and the people. Modern technologies do provide the opportunity for the best environmental management of mining projects and there are hundreds of examples of this worldwide.

In fact, as early as this week Australia, one of the leading mining countries in the world was once again ranked at the top of “Happiest Industrialised Nations” by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Better Life Index for the third consecutive year, followed by Sweden and another major mining country- Canada. This is to emphasize, that if well managed, mining can contribute greatly to the economy while providing high life standard and best environmental management. This is what we are committed to demonstrate at Amulsar.

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Samvel Farmanyan: To make progress in the negotiations, the parties should sign a treaty of the non-resumption of military action
 Friday, May 31 2013 12:23

There has been much talk about deteriorating Armenian-Russian relations that have resulted in the rising gas price. Do you agree with those statements?

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Exchange rate of dram against US dollar and EUR
 Friday, May 31 2013 08:09

Today, the maximum buying rates at commercial banks of Yerevan were 416,5 drams for 1 dollar, 542drams for 1 EUR and 13,1 drams for 1 Russian ruble. The minimum
selling rates stood at 418,2 drams for 1 dollar, 545 drams for 1 EUR and 13,2 drams for 1 Russian ruble .

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Edward Nalbandian: Yerevan supports Bashar Assad
 Friday, May 31 2013 08:02

 The situation in Syria is very complicate and cannot be called black and white, Edward Nalbandian, Foreign Minister of Armenia said at the PACE Bureau Meeting in Yerevan, Friday.

The minister said that Syrian President Bashar Assad enlisted the support of a part of his citizens a year ago, and the political views of the given part of Syrians cannot be ignored.

"Many Syrians refuse to support the opposition, as they are not sure what will happen when the opposition comes to power. We support Assad as he supposed us," the minister said.

The minister said that there is a big Armenian community in Syria and the official Yerevan is seriously concerned over the situation in that country. In this light, Nalbandian said, 10,000 Syrian Armenians have already arrived in Armenia.

Edward Nalbandian said it is necessary to seek peace for Syria and do it at the second Geneva Conference.

"The first Geneva Conference proved fruitless, as Iran and Saudi Arabia were not involved in it," the minister said.

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Armenian history museum to be opened in Tabriz
 Friday, May 31 2013 06:18

 A museum of the history of Armenians living in Iran's East Azerbaijan province will be opened in Tabriz.

IRNA quotes Turab Mohammadi, the director of the local cultural heritage, research and tourism organization, as saying that the local Armenian council has agreed to provide items for the museum. The museum will be located at the local 115-year-old Armenian school.

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Municipality of Yerevan to tackle reconstruction of Republic Square
 Friday, May 31 2013 06:16

 The Municipality of Yerevan announces an open architectural tender for reconstruction of Republic Square.  

The website of the Yerevan Municipality says that the square has become an overloaded transport hub. In addition, it is getting hard to hold various festive events in the square. The Municipality promises to give the priority to the projects based on the complete analysis of the urban development situation in the center of the Armenian capital.   

The tender is open to the architects, groups of architects and representatives of related professions, as well as architectural shops working in Armenia. Applications are to be submitted from May 29 to August 29.  Narek Sargsyan, Chief Architect of Yerevan,heads the tender committee. The first three winning places will be awarded with 1 mln AMD each. 3 more projects will be awarded with 500 thsd AMD each.

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Ilham Aliyev: Karabakh conflict settlement is only possible on the basis of territorial integrity
 Friday, May 31 2013 06:15

The Karabakh conflict settlement is only possible on the basis of territorial integrity, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said during the opening of II World Forum on
Intercultural Dialogue, which is underway in Baku under the slogan "Living Together Peacefully in a Diverse World". 

He thinks that the settlement of the conflict will bring peace to the region. Aliyev said that Azerbaijan should restore its "territorial integrity".

He said that Azerbaijan has allegedly faced a humanitarian catastrophe for 20 years. The official website of the Azeri President quotes Aliyev as saying: "For 20 years, the internationally recognized ancestral lands of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding seven districts have been under Armenian occupation. 
This occupation continues. Azerbaijanis have been subjected to a policy of ethnic cleansing. All the Azerbaijanis have been driven out of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.

The Armenians have destroyed our cultural monuments. True, international organizations, the world's leading international organizations have passed many decisions and resolutions on the Armenian- Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But, unfortunately, there is no mechanism for enforcing these decisions and resolutions.
This leads to reducing respect, lost of faith in the decisions of these international organizations.

Twenty years ago the UN Security Council passed four resolutions on an unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied Azerbaijani lands. None of them has been executed. All the other reputable international organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, NATO, etc., have also adopted similar resolutions. Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is recognized by the international community".

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On May 30 HayPost CJSC opens renovated post offices in Sarukhan and Noratus communities of Gegharkunik marz
 Friday, May 31 2013 06:12

On May 30 HayPost CJSC opened renovated post offices in Sarukhan and Noratus communities of Gegharkunik marz, the press service of HayPost CJSC told ArmInfo. Each of the post offices was completely renovated and equipped with up-to-date facilities.

The infrastructure of the post offices has also been improved. The modernized post offices have new computers and up-to-date equipment, and provide services via advanced information technologies and on- line communication with the head office.

The trust manager of "HayPost" CJSC, HayPost Trust Management B.V., carries on in 2013 the large-scale modernization and development program of the national postal operator of the RA, which is planning to modernize 60 post offices and branches till the end of this year, making them correspond to the new standards. According to the new program, 8 post offices are going to be renovated in Yerevan and 52 post offices in regions.

HayPost Trust Management attaches special attention to the appropriate presence of "HayPost" CJSC and the development of the postal and adjacent services in the regions.

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In 2013 Areximbank-Gazprombank Group to intensify consumer lending activities
 Friday, May 31 2013 06:10

 In 2013 Areximbank-Gazprombank Group is going to intensify consumer lending activities and to increase its retail loan book to 20.1bln AMD>

The press service of the bank quotes Head of Retail Lending Unit Armen Hambartsumyan as saying that by diversifying their consumer loans the Armenian banks are trying to reduce their risks and boost the demand for new banking products.

"The consumer loans offered in Armenia are not very much different. As to our bank, it keeps improving its lending terms and simplifying the lending process," says Hambartsumyan.

In Q1 2013 the loan book of Areximbank-Gazprombank Group totaled 93.9bln AMD - 14% more than in Q1 2012. The share of consumer loans was 20% or 18.3bln AMD (16% more than a year before).

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On May 30 HayPost CJSC opens renovated post offices in Sarukhan and Noratus communities of Gegharkunik marz
 Friday, May 31 2013 05:40

 On May 30 HayPost CJSC opened renovated post offices in Sarukhan and Noratus communities of Gegharkunik marz, the press service of HayPost CJSC told ArmInfo. Each of the post offices was completely renovated and equipped with up-to-date facilities.

The infrastructure of the post offices has also been improved. The modernized post offices have new computers and up-to-date equipment, and provide services via advanced information technologies and on- line communication with the head office.

The trust manager of "HayPost" CJSC, HayPost Trust Management B.V., carries on in 2013 the large-scale modernization and development program of the national postal operator of the RA, which is planning to modernize 60 post offices and branches till the end of this year, making them correspond to the new standards. According to the new program, 8 post offices are going to be renovated in Yerevan and 52 post offices in regions.

HayPost Trust Management attaches special attention to the appropriate presence of "HayPost" CJSC and the development of the postal and adjacent services in the regions.

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Azerbaijan not to attend meeting of PACE Bureau and Standing Committee in Yerevan
 Thursday, May 30 2013 14:16

The Azerbaijani delegation will not attend the meeting of the PACE Bureau and Standing Committee in Yerevan, head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, MP Samad Seyidov told APA.

He did not reveal why the Azerbaijani delegation has refused to participate in the PACE meeting in Yerevan.

The discussions will focus on Armenia's priorities during its Chairmanship and political dialogue between PACE and CoE Committee of Ministers.

Meeting of the PACE Bureau: The agenda includes the decision on proposing that the Assembly open a monitoring procedure for Hungary - in the light of the opinion adopted on 25 April by the Monitoring Committee. The Bureau should also approve the report by its Ad hoc Committee to observe the presidential elections in Montenegro (7 April), which report will be discussed the next day by the PACE Standing Committee. It will discuss the recent early parliamentary elections in Bulgaria and the forthcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan and Georgia.  Furthermore, it will appoint the third member of the panel for the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize - the panel is made up of the President of the Assembly and six independent experts, three appointed by the Bureau of the PACE and three by the Vaclav Havel Library and the Fondation Charte 77. The Bureau will also update the agenda for the next PACE session (24-28 June).

Meeting of the PACE Standing Committee: PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon will hold high- level meetings in Armenia with the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, alongside the meeting of the PACE Standing Committee. The latter has scheduled debates on promoting alternatives to imprisonment, parental leave as a way to foster gender equality, and the budgets and priorities of the Council of Europe for 2014-2015. The PACE UEL Group has requested a current affairs debate on "The Nagorno- Karabakh conflict, 25 years later: the Council of Europe's possibilities to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan".

Armenia assumed chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers on May 16.

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EBRD innovation forum skirted Armenia’s innovation ambitions
 Thursday, May 30 2013 14:11

Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and Israel are the countries the innovation problems of the economic development of which were in the center of attention of an international business forum within the frames of a regular annual meeting of EBRD held in Istanbul on 10-11 May of the current year.

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Panjikidze Briefs PACE President on Situation in Tskhinvali Region
 Thursday, May 30 2013 11:04

Tbilisi. Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, met with Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and briefed him in details on the situation in Tskhinvali region.

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Georgia Sends Protest Note to Russia Over Situation in Tskhinvali Region
 Thursday, May 30 2013 11:01

Tbilisi. The Georgian side through the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi has passed a protest note to the Russian Federation in connection with unauthorized installation of the barbed wire in Tskhinvali region (so-called South Ossetia) - Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesperson told BLACK SEA PRESS reporter on Tuesday, May 28.

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