YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov arrived in Armenia late yesterday on a two-day official visit which–according to officials–will result in the repeated delay in signing a final agreement to settle Yerevan’s $98 million debt to Moscow.
Kasyanov told reporters that the so-called equities-for-debt swap agreement will give new impetus to economic cooperation between the two allied nations by boosting bilateral trade and fostering more Russian investmen’s in the Armenian economy.
The two governmen’s agreed last December on the list of five state-run Armenian enterprises that are to be transferred to Russian control in payment for interstate debt. The enterprises are Armenia’s largest thermal power plant–an electronics factory–and three Soviet-era research institutes.
Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian–who has represented the Armenian government in the negotiations–told RFE/RL on Monday that under the terms of the deal–Russia will write off Armenia’s entire debt. He said it will be signed on Tuesday.
The signing ceremony has for months been delayed by differences over several contentious issues–including the fate of the biggest yet still incomplete Fifth Unit of the Hrazdan power plant. Whether this plant will be covered by the settlement is still unclear. Earlier this year–officials said that the Fifth Unit alone is worth $100 million.
Kasyanov and his Armenian counterpart Antranig Markarian may also consider the possibility of placing most of the enterprises in question under the management of Ara Abrahamian–a Moscow-based Armenian tycoon. Abrahamian–who owns one of Russia’s biggest diamond companies–said during a visit to Yerevan on October 9–that he has been discussing the idea with the Russian government.