President Sarkissian participated at the EBRD First Eastern Partnership Investment Summit: making investments in Armenia, each investor will find his partner
On November 22, President Armen Sarkissian participated at the First Eastern Partnership (EaP) Investment Summit organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London.
The Summit, which is held in the framework of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership initiative, is aimed at attracting investors’ attention to Eastern Europe and South Caucasus.
Before the opening of the Summit, the President of Armenia made an inscription in the Book of Honorary Guests of the Bank. At the opening of the First Investment Summit, the President of the EBRD Suma Chakrabarti made welcoming remarks. Noting that the Eastern Partnership is uniting the countries of the European Union and six countries of Eastern Europe and Caucasus and this year the 10th anniversary of the EaP is celebrated, he said that the six EaP countries are very different in their population numbers, economy, political structure, geopolitical and trade affiliations. From the trade point of view, the EU is one of their main partners. “The EBRD is stressing constantly that we are long-term partners,” the President of the Bank said.
“The Eastern Partnership region is rich and promising for investors. After years of successful cooperation, it’s time to look forward. We, at the EBRD, are confident that the main directions of policies should be good governance and the rule of law.” Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations also made welcoming remarks. He noted that the EU has been assisting the EaP countries in building a sustainable economy focusing on three areas.
“First, we made a transition to a more dynamic economy by improving the business climate,” Johannes Hahn said. “Second, we have improved the capacities of our partner-states, using the advantages of cooperation with the EU and each other. We have also provided assistance to the partner states in establishing macroeconomic stability. I encourage you all, the business community, as well as the others, to continue making investments in this region. There is huge potential.” President Armen Sarkissian, together with Prime Ministers of Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, and Vice Prime Minister of Georgia participated at the plenary event titled “Fueling growth: opportunities for investors.” Participants of the event presented investment opportunities of their countries, investment climate and efforts aimed at improving the investment environment as well as the existing challenges.
Before the discussions, President Armen Sarkissian thanked the President of the EBRD for the excellent job. “I personally know that it is not easy, because years ago, at the end of 1990s and beginning of 2000s I was consulting Presidents of the EBRD,” President Sarkissian said. He thanked for the accomplished works also the EU Commissioner and wished all new success. Responding to the question why foreign investors should come to Armenia, which has a pretty small market, President Sarkissian said that there were hundreds of reasons for making investments in Armenia. “I will not recount all hundred but will mentioned just a few,” the President of Armenia noted. “You mentioned Armenia’s size. Yes, it is true that our country has a population of 3,5 million people, but being a small country, we are a global nation. Four or five times more Armenians are residing abroad. Majority of them are citizens of Armenia. Each month, I sign multiple appeals to provide them with the Armenian passport. Thus, while thinking of Armenia, one should think of a small country but a global nation. Our market is not 3 but 15 million strong. Many Armenians living abroad, especially after the changes, which took place in the country, are ready to come and make investments in Armenia. So, reckoning about investing in Armenia, one should understand that there are local Armenians, Armenians abroad, and others. Second, the Armenian market is small but we signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union and are waiting for its final ratification to become even closer to the EU in terms of economic ties, trade, etc. One should also remember that Armenia is a member to the Eurasian Economic Union which is additional 170 million people. Armenia can become a gateway for anyone who wants to make investments in the region, to say nothing of the fact that more and more countries are signing free trade agreements with the EAEU and former USSR countries.
Third, you can trust Armenia. One and a half year ago we had a revolution whose leaders very smoothly became government members. It was a revolution which was named the “Velvet” revolution. This is a country where your humble servant, the president, with no fear, no bodyguards walked on the streets to where 200-300 thousand people were holding demonstrations. You can trust Armenia because the greatest changes in the country are carried out very peacefully. You can trust Armenia with your money. Going back thousands of years, in our country, in the Middle East Armenians were known as merchants, jewelry makers. Just as then, today too, you can trust Armenia. You can trust your money to Armenia as a state and as a financial center. The banking sector of Armenia is among a few which is international. There are European banks in our country, regional, Russian, and others. The banking system in our country is very stable.
Armenia is a small country but is rich with natural resources – copper, gold, agricultural potential. We are also rich in water. Nature provides almost 8 billion cubic meters of water, while Armenia uses only 1. We can share our resources with our neighbors. This is a small but rich country, which has neither gas nor oil but have other riches. Armenia is rich with human resources. In Soviet Union, it was known as the place where academic sciences and research were developed profoundly. Look at the 10-12 million strong Armenian community; no matter where they are – Argentine, New York, Lebanon or Calcutta, they first of all build a church, then a school. Armenia is a place where kids learn to play chess at the second grade. And finally, Armenia is focused on future, for that very reason along with the industry based on our natural resources, we concentrated on new technologies, artificial intelligence, mathematical modeling, management of large volumes of information. Even the president of the country has his own presidential initiative because the president is a specialist of mathematical modeling. Thus, I invite you to Armenia. Making investments in Armenia, each investor will find his partner.”
Responding to the question on the existing challenges, President Sarkissian said, “We all agreed that we have many similarities not only with regard to history and culture but also from the viewpoint of economic attractiveness. I believe we together could be much more attractive than individually. I would like to see joint projects which we will implement with Georgia and which will be supported by the EU and EBRD. Armenia is young not by the age of its population but in its spirit. There are many startups in the country. We are young people and as such are not happy with the 7percent economic growth. We are ambitious and want to have more.
As the President of the country, I need to say that great changes are happening in Armenia right now. I am proud that our society is changing, becomes more democratic, an open civil society. This is the basis of the changes in Armenia. This world is becoming much more unpredictable and complicated and we need to make our own countries more democratic, with a strong civil society, with a free economic growth. We are fighting against corruption. On this issue, it is important to have immunity. I have a feeling that in my country we finally starting not to fight with corruption but are creating a society which is immune to it. A swift world, swift changes, swift decisions – all this requires time to make the country unsusceptible to global risks. And there is only one way to get there – not only corruption must be nonexistent, but there must be democracy, civil society, open area for investments and all this for all.”
In conclusion, President Armen Sarkissian sent the following message: “Armenia is a member to the EAEU, has very close relations with the EU, Russia, Middle East and Central Asia. Armenia is a unique country which has close relations with Europe and Eurasia, North and South. I invite the EBRD to hold a similar meeting in Armenia, if not next year, then after that and concentrate on a possible cooperation between EU and EAEU.” President Sarkissian invited the participants and his colleagues to participate to a number of events to be held in Armenia next year.
“One of them is the famous Summit of Minds and the topic will be artificial intelligence, economic management, and geopolitics,” the President of Armenia said. “High-level international figures will participate to the Summit. I would also like to invite you to the next year large conference on Doing Business which we organize together with China. And finally, I invite you all to visit Armenia next September and October to participate at the famous STARMUS-6 festival. It will be a festival of technologies, science, music, arts, and business. It will be dedicated to Apollo-Soyuz voyage, and astronauts, entrepreneurs and musicians will take part.
I invite you all next year to Armenia.”