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New Armenian PM Takes Stock

After the Velvet Revolution which saw Nikol Pashinyan (pictured above, with megaphone, during a demonstration in April) replace Serzh Sargysan as prime minister, Armenia is taking stock of the country’s social and economic problems. Experts and citizens from across the country have been expressing their points of views how as to how the new government should deal with the many issues it faces. Local NGOs have been amongst the most vociferous in stating that the country’s new priorities should include eradicating economic and social injustice, while business leaders have called for investment in order to create jobs.

“Industry had a dominant share of GDP during the Soviet era, as much as 67.5 per cent,” said Vazgen Safaryan, chairman of the Armenian Union of Domestic Producers. “Today it accounts for only 18 per cent of the economy. If we are to generate employment, it is necessary to create new enterprises and restore old ones.”

Economic and social transformation is the central narrative of an opinion piece regarding Armenia published this week in the Financial Times. According to the article, Armenia is an attractive investment destination and its standing is improving year by year. However, economic development requires a long-term strategy to help to rebalance the economy towards sustainable growth.

“First, Mr Pashinyan must harness the skills and enthusiasm of Armenians across the globe, and encourage them to contribute to accelerating Armenia’s growth. Less than one-third of the world’s 11 million Armenians live in the country. Now is the ideal time for our homeland to tap its émigrés and ask for their help in building long-term prosperity,” writes Ruben Vardanyan, an entrepreneur.

Mr Vardanyan also believes that stopping the brain drain is a crucial challenge for Armenia and that the new government should do all it can to persuade young people to stay at home by increasing the economic opportunities open to them.

A number of commentators have said that Mr Pashinyan should invite people with business experience in various fields to help boost the economy. The new prime minister has said that he is open to all ideas but has stated that no oligarchs will be brought in to his government, and has promised that the economy will have no monopolies.