Economic pressure - effective way to force Armenia to peace

Economic pressure - effective way to force Armenia to peace

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept.14

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Despite the change of actors in the Armenian theater of absurdity and the promises of the new troupe staff to ensure a decent life for its citizens in a short time, the socio-economic situation in Armenia continues to slide downhill. This process continues, slowly but steadily.

For example, an author of article issued in Yerevan’s "Aravot" newspaper wrote: "A group of our compatriots in recent days have been holding protests, demanding permission to leave for Russia. ... As far as I know, Armenians in Moscow, Krasnodar or Glendale don’t hold demonstrations under the slogan "We want to return to Armenia."

“Even those who have only Armenia's citizenship, prefer to stay somewhere where even considering COVID-19, there are job perspectives, and more or less clear future for children... and, of course, no one will probably dare to reproach them for not giving up everything to return to Armenia. Likewise, I cannot blame people who want to return to Russia: they must understand that the state of Armenia cannot help them in any way," said the article.

Nothing can be added to these words of the Armenian author living in Yerevan. It’s a pity, however, that this is just a statement of fact, without publicly voicing the root reasons why the state of Armenia is unable to help its citizens.

It’s still a big question – on whose side is time in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Many people in Armenia think that it’s on their side. Well, time will show.

Baku, in turn, continues its policy of forcing the aggressor to peace, including by putting pressure on sensitive points of the Armenian economy.

Until quite recently, Armenia had no competitors in the export of electricity to neighboring countries, but the situation is changing.

According to the US Knoema data technology company, as well as Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy and the Armenian Energy Agency (data for 2019), the export of electricity (in billion kilowatt-hours) from Armenia and Azerbaijan is as following:

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Аzerbaijan

0,265

1.096

1.283

1.445

1.491

Аrmenia

1.424

1.229

1.44

1.208

1.251

Power engineering is one of the strategic sectors of the Armenian economy, and the export of electricity is, accordingly, one of the main items of its income.

Armenia has two traditional directions for exporting its electricity - Iran and Georgia.

Recently, Azerbaijan has been increasingly disputing the role of Armenia as a regional leader in the export of electricity. This was confirmed by Georgia’s Electricity System Commercial Operator (ESCO) JSC, according to which in 2019, 68 percent of electricity imports to Georgia came from Azerbaijan and 32 percent from Russia.

As for Iran, north provinces of which need additional electricity supply, it has been considered for a long time as the main direction of Armenia's electricity strategy. In this regard, the opinion of the President of Armenia’s Energy Security Institute Vahe Davtyan, expressed by him in his interview to Yerevan’s "Lragir" newspaper, is interesting - he doesn’t hide his fears due to the increased activity of Azerbaijan in terms of supplying electricity to Iran.

He noted that the appearance of the Azerbaijani state-owned company Azerenergy on the Iranian market in 2018 creates serious competition and damages Armenia's energy interests.

The Armenian expert warned that in the near future Armenia should be ready for tough competition with Azerbaijan in the Iranian market, as well as with Turkmenistan.

The second alarming aspect, according to the Armenian expert, is that Armenia may once again find itself be outside large infrastructure projects of the region.

The fact is that Armenia pins big hopes a project of laying high-voltage Iran-Armenia line. This project is part of the North-South electricity corridor, which, in turn, is designed to synchronize the power systems of Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Russia.

The construction of the power transmission line was to be completed first in 2018, then in 2019, and is now scheduled for the end of 2020.

"In the current situation, we see how Azerbaijan proposes to form an alternative corridor across its territory. The Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia electricity corridor project has already been put on the agenda, in the event of which the Armenian corridor may lose its initial geopolitical significance," Davtyan had said.

So, Azerbaijan's "encroachments" on the Iranian electricity market which is one of the last remaining "holy cows" at Armenia's disposal, which bring hard cash to the country's budget, may drive one of the final nails in the Armenian economy’s coffin.

Before that, Armenia suffered a failure with projects to build the Iran-Armenia railway, with plans to become a transit country for Iranian and Turkmen gas, with the construction of an oil refinery on the border with Iran.

It’s not excluded that one of the next revolutions in Armenia will be held under the slogan "Return of territories, peace with Azerbaijan".

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