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YEREVAN. – In my opinion, if it were not for the change of government in 2018, we would have closed that year with double-digit economic growth. The second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, said this in an interview with several TV companies.

"But all this stopped. In my conviction, first of all, it is a matter of governance, a matter of choosing economic policy targets. The government with its policy can encourage investments, but it can also simply kill investments. I would divide the current situation into two parts: the problems that this government created before the [COVID-19] pandemic, and the factors that have increased due to the pandemic. Most of the economic problems are artificial, a consequence of the government's policy," said the former president.

To the journalist's remark, "But before 2018, when economic growth was registered, there were corrupt ministers, economic monopolies," the second president responded as follows: "Are you sure they don't exist now? Is the $120mn bonus payment corruption or not? It is an obvious theft from the budget. Is there corruption now or not?"

Referring to the effectiveness of the Armenian authorities’ economic measures to fight the pandemic, the former president said that the government had to assist both citizens and businesses. "The pandemic should not have had such an impact [in Armenia], and the government's response is not adequate to the blow that the economy received during the pandemic," said Robert Kocharyan.

To the remark, "The authorities claim that everything will be fine, a part of the opposition predicts a famine,” and when asked what the truth is, the second president noted that it is necessary to find out what is the basis of the government's optimism, and if there will be a famine, what is the basis of that pessimism.

"The statements of the government are not convincing for me. I look at the statistics, and I do not see where their optimism comes from. I also do not think that we will starve. But the fact that the economy will have a 4-5% decline, according to the Central Bank, is realistic (…). The important thing in all this is the efficiency of the government. (…). This situation is a consequence of this government's lack of management skills; and they must accept it. If you do not admit your mistakes, you will never learn from them," said former President Robert Kocharyan.

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