YEREVAN (Armenpress–RFE/RL)–More than 300 business representatives from throughout the world and Armenia–gathered in Yerevan on Monday at the first Armenia-Diaspora economic conference–in order to explore investment opportunities in Armenia.
President Robert Kocharian opened the three-day conference to 900 participants–invited guests–and press representatives. Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) President Arkady Goukassian was on hand–along with other high-ranking Armenian and MKR officials–to highlight potential investment opportunities.
"You can combine patriotism with successful business in Armenia," Kocharian told the nearly 150 entrepreneurs from the Diaspora.
He said that many wealthy Diaspora Armenia’s consider investmen’s in Armenia a "heroic sacrifice" and demand privileged treatment from his administration–and stressed that the country’s legislation already creates a favorable environment for doing business.
Diaspora participant Haig Arslanian–a Belgian diamond manufacturer said corruption and other problems facing Armenia are often exaggerated by those Diaspora business representatives who want an excuse for staying away from their homeland. "They say bad things about Armenia without knowing what’s going on here," said Arslanian–who runs one of Belgium’s largest diamond-processing factories.
Presenting investment opportunities in MKR–Prime Minister Anushavan Danielian said that the economy is facing tough times. "Because it is an unrecognized country–Karabagh does not receive assistance or investmen’s from international structures." The majority of investmen’s–he said–come from either Armenia–or Diaspora communities of mainly France–Russia–Belgium–and Canada.
Organizers of the conference also arranged a special exhibition featuring the production of nearly 150 local and Diaspora-based companies in the hope that it will spur closer business contacts.