By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 1 November 2023
During an interview, two weeks ago, with Horizon TV of Los Angeles (see the Armenian section in this issue) I criticized Pashinyan’s feud with Putin. Due to limited time, I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss the economic ties between Armenia and Russia. Had time permitted, I would have mentioned the below facts.,
Armenians in Armenia and in the Diaspora are divided on their views regarding Pashinyan’s policy to wrest away Armenia from Russia and change Yerevan’s political orientation. The undiplomatic, erratic, and inept Pashinyan’s geopolitical designs collapse into nonsense when one considers the economic ties between Armenia and Russia.
Consider the below figures:
–Russia buys 40 percent of Armenia’s exports.
–Gazprom Armenia, a subsidiary of the Russian Gazprom company, owns 100 percent of Armenia’s gas distribution infrastructure.
–Medzamor can’t function without Russian support
–Moscow has near monopoly of grain and petroleum exports to Armenia.
–Armenia overwhelmingly depends on Russia for basic goods. The alternative is to buy from genocidier Turkey. The west disapproves Armenia trade with Iran because the latter has been sanctioned by America & Co.
–Hundreds of thousands of Armenians working in Russia send approximately $3.6 billion a year to their families in Armenia. The total annual money entering Armenia is $5.1. Russian can order Armenian “guest workers” to go home.
–In 2022, trade between Armenia and Russia doubled to nearly $5.3 billion and Armenia’s exports to Russia tripled from 850 million to $2.4 billion in 2023. Some analysts claim the huge increase is a result of West’s sanctions against Russia. Moscow is buying western goods, these commentators claim, through Armenia. Meanwhile Armenia’s imports from Russia have soared 157 percent to $2.87 billion.
In a recent interview, Armenia’s Finance Minister Vahe Hovhannesyan revealed Armenia’s exports to Russia in the first six months of this year went up 215% compared to the same period in 2022. An encouraging statistic is that 55 percent of Armenia’s exports to Russia were finished goods rather than raw materials.
A great many Armenian men who work in Russia, particularly in Moscow, are taxi drivers and drivers of other commercial vehicles. In retaliation for Pashinyan’s irrational and delusional anti-Russia pronouncements, the Duma postponed recognizing Armenia driver licenses of taxi and commercial vehicle drivers. An unknown number of Armenian drivers would lose their livelihood if the Duma votes Armenia-issued driver licenses null and void.
If Russia introduces sanctions, they will be extremely painful for Armenia, says economist Suren Parsyan, adding that there’s little prospect of redirecting these goods to western markets. “Quality standards are different. It would require overhauling whole sections of the economy, which is a complicated and time-consuming process.” And during the wholesale transition many businesses will close, which would cause growth in unemployment and a worsening socio-economic situation. There has not been a real attempt by the Armenian authorities to diversify the country’s economic profile, upgrade products, and reduce its dependence on Moscow.
Considering the above facts and figures one wonders whether anti-Russian Pashinyan lives in some cave where he receives coded messages from a guru on a remote galaxy who dislikes Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Pirozhki and Pelmeni, caviar, ikons and…Armenians.