President receives delegation headed by Russian Transport Minister and Intergovernmental Commission Co-Chairman Maksim Sokolov
President Serzh Sargsyan received today the delegation headed by Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov, Co-Chairman of the Armenian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation.
The Armenian president welcomed the delegation which has arrived in Armenia to take part in the 16th session of the intergovernmental commission and stressed that the commission plays a major role in promoting economic collaboration between the two countries.
According to Serzh Sargsyan, during the period between the commission’s previous and present sessions (one and a half year period), around three dozen international intergovernmental and inter-ministerial documents have been concluded and entered into force, thereby expanding the legal framework between Armenia and Russia. About ten more documents are now being developed.
The president expressed satisfaction with the fact that during that period, a number of issues that are of vital importance to Armenia have been tackled, including the gas pricing supplied to Armenia. Starting from January 1, for one m3 Armenia pays 165 USD instead of previous 189 USD. According to the president, it allowed avoiding price increases and stabilizing the tariff of natural gas, despite the variations of the USD-AMD exchange rates.
Serzh Sargsyan mentioned that today’s commission meeting was also marked by the conclusion of a 200 million US dollar preferential loan agreement, which will allow Armenia to considerably enlarge the range of modern armament used by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia.
Taking the opportunity, the president expressed his gratitude to Russia’s law-enforcement bodies, particularly the Office of the Prosecutor General for promoting effective collaboration with the Armenian Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the brutal crime committed in Gyumri in January this year. According to the president, the decision to transfer the criminal proceeding to the Investigative Committee of Armenia and its further trial by Armenia’s respective authorities certainly reflects the spirit of partnership and brotherhood, and fully corresponds with the provisions stipulated in the Armenian-Russian Agreement on the Status of the Russian Military Base in Armenia.
At the same time, the president laid special emphasis on the fact that the Russian military base, located in the territory of the Republic of Armenia, is a vital component of our national security system.
Noting that the Agreement for the Modernization and Extension of the Operation Term of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant has entered into force, Serzh Sargsyan stressed that Rosatom’s experts have already started to work in that direction.
Touching upon the protests against the increase in electricity tariffs started in Yerevan a few days ago, the Armenian president said that some experts try to view them as manifestations of anti-Russian moods. He noted that he is glad the protesters themselves confirm the absurdity of those presumptions.
The president informed the guests that Armenia was forced to take anti-democratic measures, taking into account the AMD inflation level and the increase in electricity cost price. According to him, of course, the government has considered the option to support socially insecure families through subsidization. Yesterday it resolved that around 105 thousand families, that is about 400 thousand citizens, will be compensated. The new tariff price does not include losses resulted from possible drawbacks of distribution networks.
According to the president, the intergovernmental commission would do a good job if it paid special attention to the activities of Armenia-based Russian companies. Russia is Armenia’s first investor: Russia’s gross investments comprise more than three billion USD which is a serious number for Armenia’s economy. “On one hand, we want you to protect those investments. On the other hand, you should view the given issue through the prism of corporate social responsibly,” said Serzh Sargsyan.
The president advised that the intergovernmental commission discuss the possibility of conducting a careful and comprehensive audit at Electric Networks of Armenia CJSC – a subsidiary of INTER RAO UES JSC – with the participation of experts and civil society representatives.
Maksim Sokolov expressed satisfaction with the fact that the ordinary session of the Armenian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation was quite constructive and successful, and produced clear results. He noted that Armenia’s membership in the EAEU has opened up qualitatively new collaboration opportunities for Armenia’s business community to realize its business projects within the territory of the union.
Maksim Sokolov laid special emphasis on the dynamically developing Armenian-Russian investment cooperation – some companies with Russian capital have been established in Armenia throughout this period – and emphasized that as far as he knows, investors plan to found new enterprises in Armenia in the area of, inter alia, agrifood growth and recycling. In that context, Maksim Sokolov attached importance to the opening of the new Russian Trade Representation Office in Yerevan, which, according to him, will allow businessmen to cooperate with each other more closely and effectively.
As for the activities of the electricity distribution company, Maksim Sokolov said that following the commission meeting, at the government building, he, the vice premier minister, the energy minister and the head of the Public Services Regulatory Commission dwelled on all the issues pertaining to the previous activities of that company. Most importantly, he noted that there is a clear plan to help the enterprise overcome the crisis situation with the help of certain measures and necessary resources.
With regard to the RA president’s proposal, Maksim Sokolov noted that the intergovernmental commission will supervise the auditing of the company’s activities, by engaging experts and representatives of all the stakeholders, adding that the entire process will be as open and as transparent as possible so that the auditing results make the situation clear and understandable for everybody and covers all of its aspects.
Maksim Sokolov assured the RA president that instructions given by the two countries’ presidents and all the proposals and projects presented to the intergovernmental commission will get undivided attention and will be tackled within the specified deadlines.