Kocharian Calls for Cancellation of Hydroelectric Plant Sale
YEREVAN—Armenia’s former president Robert Kocharian, in an interview with Yerkir.am, called on Armenia’s authorities to cancel or drastically alter a deal with the US-based ContourGlobal, which earlier this year bought Armenia’s only remaining national hydro-electric plan, Vorotan, located on the Artsakh-Armenia border.
In January, the Armenian government agreed to sell the Vorotan plant, which produced about 400 megawatts of electricity, to the US-based CountourGlobal for a price of $180 million, with the company committing to an additional $70 million in repairs and upgrades. This became the first major US investment in Armenia and was hailed by both US and Armenian authorities.
“The sale agreement is unacceptably asymmetrical ignoring the interests of Armenia and making it very vulnerable to all possible legal disputes,” Kocharian to Yerki.am. “The impression is that the Armenian side was not at all involved in the drafting of the agreement or there was a reconciled game against Armenia. It is not yet too late to reconsider the agreement, or cancel the deal at all.”
When news of Vorotan’s possible sale came to light in June of last year, it was reported that since it was the only hydro-electric plant that belonged to the Armenian government, and as such was not on a list of possible entities to be sold, any offer or sale would require parliamentary approval.
The agreement between Armenia and ContourGlobal was finalized in January without parliament approval.
In an opinion piece published in June of last year, Asbarez Editor Ara Khachatourian said that if the Vorotan sale were approved Armenia would “effectively hand-over the last vestige of its energy infrastructure to a foreign company, forever binding itself to the whims and policies of that corporation, whose priorities do not include the national security interests of Armenia.” http://asbarez.com/110653/armenia-wants-to-sell-off-more-of-its-infrastructure/
“The illegality of the deal is so obvious that the officials involved in it are unlikely to ever be able to avoid responsibility,” explained Kocharian who likened the deal to the sale of “old office furniture.” He also pointed out that the government bypassed the parliament in reaching the agreement.
The former president also said that the only positive aspect of the Vorotan sale was that it was the only significant investment that was made in Armenia by the United States.
In the Yerkir.am interview, Kocharian also touched on several domestic issues and voiced his support for a proposal to change the government of Armenia to a 100-percent proportional system, a move advanced by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia and the other opposition forces.
“If the objective is assistance to the establishment of political parties, the 100 percent proportional system is undoubtedly conducive. This decision is long overdue and I support it,” said Kocharian.
“But the problem here is much deeper. Efforts must be made to develop intra-party democracy and form traditions for the self-healing of the [political] parties,” Kocharian stressed in his Yerkir.am interview.