YEREVAN (Yerkir)-Armenian Presidential Candidate Vahan Hovannesian was campaigning in Gegharkunik province Thursday where he spoke with residence from the towns of Vardenis, Vardenik, Mardounik and Gavar about the need to develop Armenia’s rural provinces. If elected, he pledged to address the negative consequences of the country’s reckless and unbalanced privatization.
"The level of development we have in Armenia today is inadequate," he exclaimed. "The rate at which the country is developing today does not come close to meeting the challenges facing our country."
The development of Armenia’s villages is essential. Yerevan has become over-saturated and this has created serious problems, according to Hovannesian, who is also a member of the ARF Bureau and Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly. The country’s agriculture, the security of its borders, and the development of democracy are all in jeopardy because of the current situation, he warned.
"We find ourselves in a very abnormal situation. There is a lack of investment in the provinces and this causes the average citizen to dreams of moving to Yerevan where the conditions are better–where they can have warm water, or access to every TV channel and a whole host of entertaining activities," Hovannesian explained. "Its either that or directly leaving Armenia altogether."
In his speech, Hovannesian concentrated also on the establishment of a competitive economic environment in Armenia, something he says still does not exist. The lack of real competition in Armenia is the cause of the underdeveloped situation in the provinces, Hovannesian said, noting, in particular, the negative effect of monopolies.
"Only through healthy competition can we secure the industriousness of our market system," he said. "Unfortunately there currently exists an unequal playing field in Armenia, both in the business field and in many of the aspects of life."
There is indeed much injustice in the country, Hovannesian exclaimed. It is unfair that people have no jobs and are deprived working to support their families, he said. It is also unfair that people who own small and medium businesses encounter obstacles from the country’s monopolies and oligarchs.
"This region had produced bread and gold for centuries, but is now suffering because of the irresponsibility of Armenia’s leaders," Hovannesian concluded.