Mystery of FEZ at Border with Iran: What Happened to Lands?

Armenia


There is no suitable space for the operations of Meghri Free Economic Zone, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in parliament in answer to the query of Member of Parliament Mikayel Melkumyan, Prosperous Armenia Party. He said the adjacent lands have been privatized, and the free economic zone opened in December 2017 has only a building and a parking, there are no other spaces needed for operations.

Interestingly, Nikol Pashinyan spoke about this in parliament in answer to the query of the member of parliament of Tsarukyan Alliance. The prime minister informed that the criminal case relating to unlawful privatization of these territories is in court.

The plan was to establish the FEZ in phases. The first phase would include the construction of the BCP of Meghri, which has been completed. In the second phase, the premises of the FEZ were to be enlarged to provide to businesses.

This information, however, was known to the former chair of the State Real Estate Cadastre Committee Martin Sargsyan back in 2014 who, according to the police files, addressed the head of Karchevan community located at the Armenian-Iranian border on behalf of Hovik Abrahamyan.

In particular, the police informed that the former chair of the Cadastre Committee and his deputy visited Karchevan, shared with the head of the community the adjacent territories to the FEZ to-be and assigned him on behalf of the prime minister to sell the aforementioned territories to ACA LLC in a fake auction.

Interestingly, in 2014 PAP led the process of replacing the prime minister. In April Hovik Abrahamyan, Gagik Tsarukyan’s in-law, was appointed as prime minister. In fact, the developments date to the period when Hovik Abrahamyan was prime minister.

The FEZ was opened when Karen Karapetyan was prime minister but in fact the opening was a sham because the zone does not have premises for operations.

Nikol Pashinyan has announced that a major project of modernization of the BCP at the border of Iran is planned in 2023. According to him, by that time it is necessary to address creation of favorable conditions, including the return of territories of the FEZ.

As is known, the Armenian parliament is drafting a bill enabling confiscation of unlawfully obtained land without a court decision. If the court concludes that the land has been obtained illegally, once the law is passed, they can be so-called precedent property returned to the state through this mechanism.

Meanwhile, the interim free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union becomes effective in October whereas Armenia has been limited from fully benefitting from this agreement since 2014.



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