I am very sad that [Deputy Prime Minister] Mher Grigoryan negotiated badly. It was strategically important for Armenia to open the line leading to Gazakh—the Yerevan-Sevan-Dilijan-Ijevan- Gazakh—because it would have opened faster, required less cost, and it would have been shorter for both us and them, whereas the opening of communications will not give much to our economy. Former PM of Armenia, chairman of the opposition Freedom Party, and economist Hrant Bagratyan told about this to Armenian News-NEWS.am—and referring to the announcements on the opening of regional communications and, in particular, on the reopening of the Yerevan-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway.
"For a long time I do not believe that it will happen, as I do not think that there will be [the Armenian-Azerbaijani border] delimitation and demarcation; it will never happen, they will not do [it]. Turkey has recognized our borders with the borders of the Soviet [Union], whereas the other one, Azerbaijan, will not recognize [it] because it would mean recognizing that this land is of Armenia. They will generally say 'delimitation, peace treaty' and will not sign.
Their trains will go to Nakhichevan. We do not think we will be able to send a train; let's see, time will tell. But it will not give us anything special. Trade with Turkey is essential, but we have it today, too; that trade has nothing to do with this railway. We do not and cannot even have trade with Azerbaijan. It is not that Armenia can bring a large amount of oil products from Azerbaijan tomorrow (…)
The opening of [regional] communications in trade with Turkey may give a benefit of $10-15 million, in general, a $60-65-million benefit for Armenia’s economy. But that, too, is relative because transportation through Georgia will be reduced, and we will see how Georgia will react [to this]. If they start restoring that part of the railway, it will take three years," Bagratyan said.
Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan had stated that about $200 million will be required to restore the 45-kilometer section of the Yerevan-Julfa-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway passing through Armenia. According to Bagratyan, the state budget of Armenia will enable to restore that part of the railway through Armenia’s Meghri, but in that case, for example, pensions will not be increased in the country.
"Next year they are going to increase their pensions a little; they have already made a fuss. But in 2021, the pensioners have lived in conditions of a 10-15% increase in food prices. If you increase pensions by 10% next year, those people will live still 5% worse. There is no increase in income, although they admit that poverty has reached from 26.4% to 27%, although it was 23% before [their] coming to power," said the former prime minister.