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Armenian government’s new program to ensure country’s security

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the program of the new government of Armenia

An average of 7% of annual economic growth, an increase of the minimum wage, demographic growth, the creation of a foreign intelligence service – all these items are included in the program of the new government of Armenia. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the program for the next 5 years.

Amid the ongoing tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and in the aftermath of the 44-day war in Karabakh, the plans and priorities of the new government to ensure the country’s security are of the greatest interest, however, some political analysts believe that the program does not contain any specific clauses on this issue.

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The main political message

The main obligation that the government takes upon itself, according to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, is to start an era of peaceful development of Armenia and the region. At the same time, the new government realizes that “the solution to the problem depends not only on Armenia but also on the position and interests of other countries in the region”.

The Armenian government claims that it is ready to contribute to stability in the region.

“The grave consequences of the 44-day war in 2020 significantly changed the external environment for Armenia, not only aggravating a number of previously existing problems but also giving rise to new ones.

Protection of external security, sovereignty, territorial integrity of Armenia, a fair settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the creation of a favorable regional and international atmosphere around Armenia continues to be a priority”, the document says.

According to Pashinyan, this is the main political message of the government’s program.

Army modernization

Pashinyan’s government plans to carry out structural and conceptual changes in the armed forces, in a strategic perspective – a gradual transition to a professional army.

The new government announces that in the near future the army will be reformed, its combat readiness will be increased and the border troops of the National Security Service will guard the state borders.

“The Republic of Armenia, like any peace-loving state, will develop and transform the Armed Forces not for aggression but for protection from aggression. The Republic of Armenia does not intend to conquer territories”, the program states.

Role of Russia

The government intends to develop bilateral and multilateral relations with all states but pays special attention to the Armenian-Russian strategic alliance. According to the document, within the framework of cooperation with Russia:

• equipping the 102nd Russian military base in Armenia with modern equipment will continue;

• Russian border guards will continue to protect certain sections of the state border of Armenia;

• the involvement of Russian border troops in the protection of the state border of Armenia will increase.

In terms of foreign policy, the government plans to deepen and normalize relations with neighboring countries.

“We believe that addressing the atmosphere of hostility and overcoming it is necessary to establish peace and stability in the region”, Nikol Pashinyan said.

The Armenian government announces that it will make efforts to unblock regional infrastructures. At the same time, it is specially stipulated that this process cannot occur to the detriment of the security and vital interests of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Role of OSCE Minsk Group

The new Cabinet believes that the role of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, as before the war of 2020, is key in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, clarification of the final status of the unrecognized NKR and
ensuring regional stability and security.

The prime minister cited the July 29 statement of the Minsk Group co-chairs, in which they called on the parties to resume peace talks as soon as possible, without preconditions.

Pashinyan stressed that this proposal was taken into account when developing the government’s program: no preconditions for the full resumption of the negotiation process are being put forward.

Reform of national security agencies

According to the government’s five-year program, the national security agencies will be reorganized and technically re-equipped, and new qualified personnel will be involved in the structure, along with a continuous process of professional development and training of the current staff.

According to the program, this is the primary task for the effective fight against terrorism, the effective work of intelligence and counterintelligence.

Expert opinion

Beniamin Poghosyan believes that there are no specifics in the provisions of the state program:

“It is unclear how the Pashinyan government will achieve its goals. There are no specific provisions on what the government is going to do, in particular, with Artsakh – both in relation to the territories [lost during the war], and in general. What does the government mean by Artsakh – the territory as of before September 26, 2020 [the last Karabakh war began on September 27 – JAMnews], or the current one?”

The political scientist asks a few more questions that remained unanswered in the outline of the 5-year program:

“What will Armenia do when, for example, Russian troops leave Artsakh? Are we going to protect it ensure its security, how are we going to do it, by what means?

It is necessary to understand what ideas the Armenian government has about the new situation, whether it has come to terms with the uncertain future of Artsakh, with the departure of the local population, which is happening gradually. What is it going to do to prevent this, how is it going to persuade people to stay? These are specific issues that need to be resolved”, Beniamin Poghosyan said in an interview with Radio Azatutyun (Freedom).

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Former head of Iranian Central Bank sentenced to 10 years on corruption charges

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A former governor of Iran’s Central Bank, Valiollah Seif, was sentenced on Saturday to 10 years in prison on corruption charges involving the mismanagement of millions of dollars, the judiciary said.

Report informs, citing Reuters, that Seif and two of his deputies, who also received jail terms, were found guilty of "disturbing the foreign exchange market, the country's economic climate and mismanagement,” a judiciary spokesman was quoted as saying by state media.

State TV said Seif and one of his deputies, Ahmad Araghchi, who was sentenced to eight years in jail, had "provided illegal conditions for the mismanagement of about $160 million and 20 million euros."

Another deputy, Salar Aghakhani, was sentenced to 13 years.

Seif led the central bank from 2013 to 2018 under former President Hassan Rouahni's administration. He was replaced by Abdolnasser Hemmati.

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How did natural gas tariffs change in Azerbaijan?

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At today's meeting, the Tariff Council adopted relevant decisions on the regulation of wholesale and retail tariffs for natural gas.

Report informs that, according to the decision, in the population category, tariffs increased by AZN 0.02 for annual consumption of up to 1,200 cubic meters (1,200 cubic meters included) and AZN 0.12 for one cubic meter.

Tariffs for the population within the consumption limits of 1,200 to 2,500 cubic meters and over 2,500 cubic meters remained unchanged at AZN 0.20 and AZN 0.25, respectively. Gas tariffs for industry and agriculture in the non-population category are increased from AZN 0.20 to AZN 0.22.

The tariff for gas sold by Azeristiliktejizat OJSC to yard boiler houses and CNG filling stations increases from AZN 0.13 to 0.171. Tariffs for gas supplied to other consumers remain at the same level of AZN 0.25 per 1,000 cubic meters and for gas used as crude in the production of methanol and urea products at AZN 0.20.

The tariff for gas sold by Azerkontrakt OJSC to Azerenerji OJSC for energy generation is increased from AZN 0.13 to AZN 0.171. The tariff for gas purchased from the Azneft PA increases from AZN 0.75 to AZN 0.9.

Moreover, the tariff for gas sold by Azerkontrakt OJSC to Azneft PU and Nakhchivangaz PU increases from AZN 0.11 to AZN 0.118.

The manufacturer buys natural gas at a negotiated price for the production of electricity supplied to data centers that carry out activities for processing, recording, and transmitting data, which receive power directly through the 35 and 110 kV lines, where the daily demand for loads is stable, and the average monthly energy consumption for production targets is at least 5 million kWh.

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NATO Special Rep for Caucasus and Central Asia to visit Baku

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NATO Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Javier Colomina will arrive in Azerbaijan next week, Report informs, citing Colomina's Twitter page.

"Looking forward to my first trip to the Caucasus next week. I will be visiting Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia in my new capacity as NATO Special Rep for the Caucasus and Central Asia in order to identify ways to further enhance NATO’s engagement in the Caucasus," he tweeted.

Looking forward to my first trip to the #Caucasus next week. I will be visiting #Azerbaijan , #Georgia , and #Armenia in my new capacity as #NATO Special Rep for the Caucasus and Central Asia in order to identify ways to further enhance NATO’s engagement in the Caucasus.

— Javier Colomina (@JavierColominaP) October 16, 2021

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