YEREVAN, January 13. / ARKA /. In an interview published by his unofficial website, 2rd.am, on Monday, ex-Armenian president Robert Kocharian criticized the government for a gas deal concluded late last year with Russian Gazprom, particularly, a provision of the agreement stipulating that the current and future Armenian governments cannot raise taxes or make any other changes in the regulatory environment for the Gazprom-owned Armenia’s national gas distribution company ArmRosGazprom (ARG) until January 2044.
According to Kocharian, this part of the agreement is extremely vulnerable running counter to international practices. He said this happened at a time of dynamic changes in the global oil and gas industry. According to him, the deal may make the national energy system a hostage to this agreement.
"This agreement has made the Armenian government not only an observer on the board of directors of ARG, but also an observer in the gas sector in general," said the ex-president .
Citing his 10-year experience of ‘very fruitful’ cooperation with Gazprom, which ‘resulted in connecting thousands of enterprises and households to the gas networks, expansion of underground gas storage facilities, construction of the 5th unit of the Hrazdan thermal power plant, Iran-Armenia pipeline and a 10-year sustainable supplies at a reasonable price,” Kocharian said Gazprom never came forward with such conditions when he was president.
"I do not know why it (the deal) happened now. No explanations were made,” he said, adding that the deal left a strong mark on the way the society conceives the agreement on the whole and on its “legitimacy”.
The ex-president also expressed bewilderment about why the government hid from the public the fact of accumulating $300 million debt for gas supplies to Gazprom because of higher price. According to Kocharian, the deal has damaged heavily the reputation of the government.
"Unfortunately, except for the armed forces, other government institutions in Armenia have never enjoyed public trust and this kind of deals are destroying its remnants. I think the government should have told the citizens about the increased price of gas, as well as about the authorities’ efforts to address the problem, «he added.
In comments on the government decision to sell its 20 percent stake in ARG to Gazprom, Kocharian said losing influence is not pleasant, but it still happened within the framework of the logic of business, but he criticized the government for providing exclusive rights to Gazprom until 2043.
The agreement was ratified by the pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament. Deputies from the three opposition parties represented in the assembly as well as the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party boycotted the voting. -0-