Statements and messages of the President of RA
Welcoming remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan at the Armenian-Greek business forum
Distinguished Mr. President, Dear businessmen, Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to welcome you to the Armenian-Greek business forum. I and President Karolos Papoulias today talked a lot about deepening economic cooperation between our countries and about existing possibilities. We are pretty sure that our economic relations have fallen far behind our political and friendly relations, and it is our task to bring economic relations to the level of our political relations.
Creating an atmosphere of trust which in case of our countries and peoples has ancient roots is one of the key guarantees of long-term economic cooperation. The Armenian and Greek peoples have an age-old history of friendly and business connections. Living side by side for ages, we have obtained many common characteristics which are evident in our traditions, everyday life, mentality which paves the way for broadening and promoting cooperation between our business cycles.
Today’s business forum is very important for our countries both to further enlarge friendly relations and economic cooperation and in terms of revealing new possibilities and new markets for our businessmen.
Armenia has declared and persistently carries out an open-door investment policy. Legislative changes targeted at equal, stable and predictable promotion of investment and business climate continue. State assistance mechanisms have also been set up directed at creating favorable investment conditions and increasing export volumes. I will give you a few examples. So, according to the legislation of the Republic of Armenia organizations and individuals who make at least a 200-million-Dram investment (as such the amount of 200 million drams is not so big and is equal to about 400 thousand Euros) are allowed to delay their value added (VAT) tax payments up to three years. There is a possibility to prolong the terms of paying VAT amounts calculated by customs bodies up until three years in case of customs clearance within the regime “Temporary Import” and “Temporary Export” and imports worth more than 300 million Drams. Moreover, in case of more or less large investments aimed at innovation and increase of export potential, we are ready to take an individual approach by passing and enforcing a special law on the given investment project and grant additional tax privileges, for example exemption from corporate tax.
At the same time, the RA integration into the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) opens up new horizons for foreign investors who can penetrate into the EEU common market via the Armenian economic zone. The existence of qualified and educated labor force in Armenia which is rather flexible in terms of meeting the demands of the modern job market will also be of benefit to investors.
In recent years, especially the knowledge-based spheres of our economy – IT, pharmaceutics, medicine – have recorded high growth rates. The spheres of finance and banking, jewelry, agriculture, mining industry, tourism, brandy production and wine-making have also developed. Yesterday, we together with Mr. President and the members of the Greek delegation visited Armavir marz to assess the overall quality of the garden and the new wine factory built by Mr. Eurnekian. I am happy that our assessments matched, and we consider that Armenia’s agricultural and recycling industry future should be exactly like that. Leading international IT organizations have opened their offices in our country. There are more than 380 IT organizations in Armenia with about 11 thousand employees which ensure average 20-25 percent annual turnover increase.
We have launched a cancer treatment and prevention medical center saturated with modern technologies and corresponding to the international development of modern medicine in order to bring it to the level of regional importance. I am sure that the Armenian-American collaboration in this sphere will yield positive results.
Although the sphere of agriculture comprises the considerable part of external trade circulation between our countries, I think that here we still have ample possibilities to broaden our cooperation. A number of programs have been implemented in this sphere which, I think, should continue. Today’s agreement signed between the RA Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Rural Development and Food of Greece opens up new possibilities to enlarge cooperation in that sphere.
There are good prospects to promote mutually beneficial collaboration in tourism. Taking into account the rich traditions of Greece in this sphere, Armenia is interested in hotel construction, implementing joint projects with the participation of the two countries’ tourist operators and exchange of experience in the management of attractive tourist places. Indeed, if we manage to properly cooperate with relevant Greek organizations in this sphere, Armenia will benefit greatly, and businessmen who will promote such activities will certainly do beneficial business because Greece’s experience is extensive. In Armenia we have recorded considerable growth in tourism, and in these circumstance I think that here our cooperation can be very effective. Armenia has declared an open skies policy which aims to expand and raise the quality of air transportation to and from Armenia. This policy has already achieved some results: compared to the same period last year the total volume of passenger transportation has increased by more than 25 percent. The intensification of regular flights between our countries will give a new stimulus to promoting tourism.
There is also good potential to promote cooperation in energy sphere. I think that the exchange of experience and technologies in the sphere of use of alternative energy sources and energy investment projects which were of reciprocal concern previously continue to be attractive considering the fact that in the last 1-1,5 years a number of researches have been conducted in this sphere and there are good alternative sources in Armenia.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are confident that the qualified education and the promotion of human potential are the vital guarantees of development. We can also cooperate in this sphere. In order to provide our youth with qualified education we not only send them to study abroad, but also make active efforts to provide that qualified education in our country. The striking illustration of that is Dilijan International School which opened its doors this year in front of more than 100 students from 50 countries. There are the American, Slavonic and French universities in Armenia. I hope that Greek students will soon express their desire to receive education in Armenia, maybe like our Armenian young men have been receiving education, first of all military education, in Greek high-quality educational institutions for 18 years now.
I and President Papoulias today attached great importance to holding the 5th session of the Armenian-Greek Intergovernmental Commission for Technical and Scientific Cooperation which will give us an opportunity to reveal the existing potential of that sphere and outline development prospects.
Ladies and gentlemen, concluding my speech, I wish you success and fruitful activities, not only because I want Armenian and Greek businessmen to get high profits, but also because it is impossible to deal with social and economic issues faced by our countries and governments without strengthening economic ties and ensuring the success of both businessmen and their businesses. Hence, business is not just an economic activity; it is a policy and maybe, the most important one.
Thank you for your attention.