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September 13, 2002

ACNIS Roundtable on the Denationalization Process and Energy System Development in Armenia

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) convened today a seminar on “Prospects of the Denationalization Process and Development of the Energy System in Armenia.” A number of deputy ministers, representatives of the Armenian government, national parliamentarians, directors of research institutes at the National Academy of Sciences, officials from international organizations, opposition party leaders, and industry analysts participated in the seminar.

ACNIS research director Professor Tatoul Manasserian delivered the opening address on “Peculiarities of the Denationalization Process in Armenia.” “In Armenia, what has been and is being privatized are mainly large enterprises that operate at a profit, not at a loss. This is the most illogical idea that has been implemented during the denationalization process of the last ten years,” he said.

Deputy Minister of State Property Ashot Markosian presented his paper on “The Key Trends in State Property Management Policy.” “If the privatized enterprises do not operate efficiently or if the stock market is not well developed, the blame should not so easily be laid on the denationalization policy or solely on the state,” he asserted.

In his intervention Nikolai Grigorian, deputy chairman of the republic’s Energy Commission, outlined the strategic objectives of power grid privatization and the provisions of energy sector reform. He said in particular: “The privatization of the power distribution grids had no alternative, since for years a hopeless heap of unsettled debts had accumulated and the network was on the threshold of destruction.”

The capacity audience, including representatives of public organizations, international structures, and civil society, then took part in an open panel discussion on domestic and foreign policy aspects of the privatization of power distribution grids. The comments related to the substantive questions raised by Armenia’s denationalization strategy, or lack thereof, and by specific privatization deals, as well as to the equally important procedural imperatives at issue. Against this background, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian identified as keys to policy success (1) the introduction of administrative checks and balances to secure the professional transparency and societal oversight of relevant processes, (2) the prevention and punishment of conflicts between the public and individual officials’ private interest, and (3) the development of a system of guarantees ensuring the nation’s right to know and access to information.

The formal presentations were followed by a robust debate among ACNIS founder Raffi Hovannisian; “Hanrapetutiun” Party leader and former Prime Minister Aram Sargsian; People’s Party leader Stepan Demirchian; National Assembly committee chairman Shavarsh Kocharian; deputy Minister of Energy Areg Galstian; national parliamentarians Harutiun Pambukian and Vardan Mkrtchian; National Citizens’ Initiative (NCI) councilmember and dean of the economics department at Yerevan State University, Dr. Haik Sargsian; NCI coordinator Hrach Hakobyan; chairman of the “MP Club” Ruben Torosian; chairman of the National Aviation Union Dmitri Atbashian; council member of the “Socialist Armenia” Union Robert Shamirian; “Sed Marsed” executive director Tigran Jrbashian; economist Edward Aghajanov; international relations analyst Arman Babajanian (USA); World Bank Yerevan office representative Ani Balabanian; and many others.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi Hovannisian and supported by the Lincy Foundation and a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2002, the Center focuses increasingly on public outreach, civic education, and applied research on critical public and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center and its activities, call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; e-mail root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am.

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