OPPOSITION GET READY: Top opposition member Vazgen Manukyan told journalists that the opposition would start organizing huge public rallies by mid April, Yerkir daily reported.
Manukyan said he had his own action plan and believes after the regime is removed, someone should become an interim president for a two-year period during which the legislation is reformed, and then fair elections are scheduled. Otherwise, just replacing one person with another would be of no much use, he said, adding the opposition, however, does not accept this proposal.
GYUMRI RALLY: The weekend rally of the Armenian opposition in Gyumri has ended in criminal proceedings against several rallies, mostly the representatives of Justice Bloc, Arminfo reported. Some 11 people were injured including three police officers.
Armenia 's police department says that the Gyumri Municipality did not sanction the rally. During the rally opposition leaders were calling for dismissal of the president. The disorders started when a group of people tried to object opposition activities.
PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR STABILITY: Armenia lives in a definite political tension, but it is not so strong to threaten the constitutional order, said Armenia’s Prime Minister while commenting on the oppositions’ intention to achieve power change.
“If any party or individual undertakes actions aimed at breaking the country’s stability, he will be punished within frames of the law”, Andranik Margaryan stressed. He also mentioned that the coalition expressed its wish to enter a dialogue with the opposition, but unfortunately, the latter puts a precondition – “power change then dialogue”.
CRIME STORY: Armenian justice ministry has flatly denied a report by a pro-opposition daily, claiming that "criminals sentenced for committing grave crimes were released from prisons to stir up provocations during mass protest rallies to be staged by the opposition in early April."
The oppositional daily, Haykakan Zhamanak, quoted a member of the National Unity party, as claiming that the released criminals were promised in return full discharge and hefty money rewards.
GENOCIDE RECOGNITION: Montana became the 32 U.S. states to recognize the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Governor Judy Martz, in a letter of recognition sent to the ANCA, stated that she was "pleased to recognize your achievements to bring awareness and recognition to the one and one-half million Christian Armenian men, women and children who were victims of the brutal genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915 to 1923."
EFFICIENT TALKS: Negotiations on the construction of Iran-Armenia gas pipe-line are in their final phase, Armenian Energy Minister said. Initial estimates show that some $100 million USD will be spent to build the pipeline on the territory of Armenia.
The final agreement will be signed in April during the visit of the Iranian Minister of Gas and Oil. The agreement envisages that the construction will start later this year and is expected to last 20 months.
FIGHTING TRAFFICING: The Government of Armenia and the United Nations Development Program launched the Anti-Trafficking Program: Capacity Building Support and Victims Assistance project.
Armenpress reported that the overall objective of this two-year project is to facilitate the development of a national framework to tackle the problem of human trafficking as well as to provide direct assistance to the victims of trafficking. The project is supported by the Governments of Norway and the Netherlands.
COUP D’ETAT ACCUSATION: Official Yerevan is continuing efforts to secure the release of six Armenian pilots who were arrested in Equatorial Guinea on charges of coup earlier this month, Armenpress reported.
The statement, released last week by the Armenian Foreign Ministry says that “accusations of Equatorial Guinea in no way relate to their professional activities” The Armenian nationals are among 15 foreigners accused by the authorities of the West African state of plotting to overthrow its President.
PEACE-TALK: Considerable progress was made at the talks over the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in Key West 3 years ago, "however, we cannot speak of agreements reached there," US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told journalists during his visit to Yerevan, PanARMENIAN.Net reported.
Armitage said when Azeri former President Heydar Aliyev returned to Baku from Key West and presented the proposals over the Karabakh settlement, he faced many difficulties there." He also noted that "the solution of the Karabakh conflict cannot be imposed from outside".
FOR SALE: The government expects to net at least $450 million in cash and investment commitments from the upcoming sale of Armenia’s largest copper and molybdenum mines to a foreign investor, RFE/RL reported.
Plans for the privatization of the metallurgical complex located in the southeastern town of Kajaran were unveiled by the government early in March. They were officially presented to over 40 potential buyers at a special conference held in London last week.
INVESTMENTS: Armenian deputy minister of Trade and Development predict that the average amount of annual investments in the Armenian economy will from now on range between $200 million-250 million, Armenpress reported.
Last year some $230 million had been invested, of which $160 million were direct investments, $40 million of it came from a Russian-Armenian deal known as Assets for Debt, by which Armenia handed over some of its leading enterprises to Russia in return for its almost $100 million debt to Moscow. The total amount of aggregate investments in Armenia since its independence is nearing $1 billion.
ARMENIA-NATO: Armenian National Assembly ratified this week the agreement on "The Status of the Armed Forces", concluded under the Partnership for Peace program of NATO, Yerkir reported.
The document settles the issues of deploying the armed forces of the NATO member-states and partners at the Partnership territory and regulates the legal bases for Armenia's participation in the program. Also the document will in legislative way provide for security of Armenian servicemen in other states.