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October 25, 2002

ACNIS Forum on
Regional Economic Relations and Cooperation Prospects

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) convened today a working seminar on “Contemporary Issues of Armenia’s Foreign Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation.”

ACNIS research director Professor Tatoul Manasserian welcomed the capacity audience.

The keynote topic, “Prospects for Regional Economic Relations,“ was presented by Ambassador Mohammad Farhad Koleini of the Islamic Republic of Iran and by Armenian economist Edward Aghajanov. “I believe that economic cooperation should be targeted at integration. Any economic integration first and foremost must be carried out on the basis of energy resources. Search for common markets is also important for developing bilateral trade relations,” the Ambassador said.

In Edward Aghajanov’s words, “the South Caucasus states are too small to participate in integration processes separately. Therefore Turkey and Iran should unite with the three Caucasian republics. Only in this case can they constitute a considerable economic force in the region.”

Tatoul Manasserian spoke about “The System of Armenia’s Foreign Economic Relations.” “Armenia’s foreign economic relations are not harmonized with economic development priorities. It is necessary to adopt non-standard, assertive and pro-active economic policies aimed at shaping an attractive foreign investment climate. Creating free economic zones will be one of the important steps to this end,” he said.

ACNIS diaspora analyst Hovsep Khurshudian and Armenian Foreign Ministry diaspora analyst Hrach Gaspar presented their viewpoints on the role of diaspora in Armenia’s integration into the world economy. “In recent years special attention has been given to diaspora entrepreneurship and its participation in Armenia’s economic development. It is worth mentioning the business-related events organized within the framework of the 2002 Armenia-Diaspora conference. This event, which was followed by another conference in California in September 2002, offered an opportunity for diaspora businesspersons to acquaint themselves with and support the export-oriented branches [of Armenia’s economy],” Hrach Gaspar said.

In his intervention, ACNIS’s Khurshudian emphasized that “in order effectively to support Armenia’s integration into the world economy, the diaspora itself must become a strong national unit. It is important that national capital become manageable by the national elite for the benefit of Armenians worldwide.”

Grigor Ghazarian of the Armenian Development Agency delivered a summary speech on “Foreign Investment Efficiency Issues.” “It is more important to stimulate special-purpose investments in core sectors that trigger economic development than to encourage making investments generally. This in turn requires an effective economic development plan,” he said.

The formal deliberations were followed by brisk and informed debate among prime ministerial adviser Ararat Gomtsian; “Sed Marsed” executive director Tigran Jrbashian; chairman Arsen Ghazarian of Armenia’s Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen; director Armenak Darbinian of the Economic Research Institute of Armenia’s Ministry of Finance; national parliamentarian Stepan Zakarian; chairman of the “MP Club” Ruben Torosian; chairwoman Tsolvard Gevorgian of the Armenian Merchants’ Union; chairman Hovsep Seferian of the Armenian Businessmen’s Association; ACNIS analyst Vrej Jijian; ACNIS founder Raffi Hovannisian; 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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