Recently President Serzh Sargsyan gave an interview to Armenia TV, during which he talked about Armenia’s foreign and domestic policy, economic, integration policies and changes expected in 2018. Apart from leaving some questions unanswered, Sargsyan also made a number of statements that do not correspond to reality.
In response to the journalist’s remark that Armenia occupies the 62nd position in the “Global Index of Organized Crime” (while Georgia occupies the 38th position and Azerbaijan ranks 43rd) against the backdrop of the fact that Armenia always mentions its security as its tourism business card, Sargsyan stated that “in the same report, Armenia is so much ahead of the mentioned countries with regards to tourism, travel”.
First of all, the aforementioned index is taken from the “Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018” of the Global Economic Forum, in which tourism is not addressed separately. Thus, Sargsyan’s statement is confusing. At the same time, there is another report of the Global Economic Forum which refers specifically to tourism. But even if we assume that Sargsyan meant this report, we will again have to conclude that the latter was lying. In the “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017”, Armenia ranks 84th, while Georgia ranks 70th and Azerbaijan ranks 71st.
Absence of Arguments
Talking about the parliamentary hearings on leaving the Eurasian Economic Union, Sargsyan stated that he has not heard any serious arguments in favor of leaving the union.
In September, the parliamentary “Yelq” faction presented a bill on termination of EAEU membership on the part of Armenia. The faction justified its demand with economic, social, military and political, and a number of other elements.
The arguments also included decline of Armenia’s GDP by 8% during the 3 years of EAEU membership, the decline in employment by 13%, as well as growth of external debt by 10%.
Moreover, during the parliamentary hearings, they also talked about the serious inflation, issues related to the procurement of military goods, increase in cost prices for agricultural products, restrictions with regards to long-term economic growth prospects, as well as a number of other issues. Nevertheless, Sargsyan claims that he has not heard any serious arguments.
Within the framework of the same EAEU topic, Sargsyan also mentions: “The increase in commodity prices can not have a significant impact on either sharp inflation or economic growth, and I am not making assumptions. In 2015, the rates for over several thousand commodity types increased, and there was no subsequent sharp inflation.”
And though tariffs for about 8 thousand commodity types did change in 2015 (tariffs for about 6300 commodity types increased, and they decreased for about 1700), the truth is that customs tariffs for about 700 most important commodity types are still expected to increase. And many of those commodities do not have competitive and high quality analogues in the EAEU, and, thus, the increase of price for consumers will be inevitable.
Lie about Education Funding
The journalist also reminds that Sargsyan has mentioned about the concept of creating a “state based on knowledge, while “science and education spending has been cut for 2018”. In response to this remark, Sargsyan denies it, stating that funding “is not being cut”, and talking about a number of changes that have nothing to do with public education funding. In August, the RA Government approved the 2018-2020 midterm spending program, according to which the education spending will reduce year by year, reaching 1.85% from the current 2.85%. The budget of this program envisages 125,974.6 million AMD spending for education in 2018, 125,885.9 million in 2019, and 129,108.4 million in 2020. It means that Sargsyan’s statement is disinformation.
Earlier SUT.am published a material about the false nature of Karen Karapetyan’s statements on the same topic.