By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Recently Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that his country has been acquiring what he described as unprecedented amount of weapons, ammunition, armament since May 2018, the date that coincides with his being appointed as de facto ruler of Armenia.
This weapon acquisition is in line with Pashinyan’s belligerence policy pursued in relations with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Pashinyan has repeatedly stated that “if you wish for peace, prepare for war,” and made other controversial statements that undermine the peace negotiations with Baku.
Discussing the 2020 draft state budget during the Parliament’s session recently, Pashinyan said that his administration has increased the defense budget by 66 billion drams ($137.6 million) since 2018 and that this comprises nearly 28 percent of the overall budget. By comparison, under the draft budget, only three billion drams are planned to be allocated for solving the problems of residents in the country’s disaster zone in 2020.
Such military expenditures and belligerent and boastful statements are in stark contrast with the real situation in Armenia that is faced with a great deal of economic and social difficulties.
Presently Armenia is struggling with unemployment and poverty along with the ever-growing decrease in the number of population. Many young Armenians preferring migrating to other countries to make a living.
The representative of the UN World Food Program in Armenia Jelena Milosevic said on November 27 that 500,000 people suffer from various forms of malnutrition in Armenia. If we take into account that the number of permanent population of Armenia as of July 1, 2019, amounted to 2,96 million people, it turns out that every sixth Armenian is struggling with access to food. According to the statistics that date back to pre-Pashinyan era, one-third of the Armenian population was poor.
Instead of solving the citizen’s obvious problems, the Armenian government continues to arm its army and pursue what it had described as a "policy aimed at restoring the military balance in the region."
That is, Pashinyan admits Azerbaijan surpasses Armenia in military power and Yerevan is desperately trying to close its gap with Baku.
The country has also difficulties attracting foreign investment and annuls a number of regional and infrastructure projects. On November 24, Armenia’s Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports
Arayik Harutyunyan admitted that the country “needs hundreds of millions of dollars to restore and repair schools,” because they are in a state of disrepair.
Foreign direct investment in Armenia amounted to only 32 billion drams ($66.7 million) in January-September 2019, MP from Prosperous Armenia party, Mikael Melkumyan, said recently, complaining that “It’s almost zero. This is the difference between outflows and the inflow of financial resources, which amount to 3.5 billion drams per month - about $7 million.”
While Armenia is drowning in problems, the Armenian government has other priorities, such as increasing military budget and purchasing new weapons.
The parliament is scheduled to hold a discussion to approve three loan agreements from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the German KfW development bank to cover the country’s budget deficit that is caused by the country’s heavy militarization.
Thus, the Armenian population will again pay for the militaristic desires of the country's leadership.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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