Yerevan’s new mayor Karen Karapetian ordered to enforce the ban on all forms of street trade in the Armenian capital, clearing sidewalks of people selling a wide range of goods, from agricultural produce to construction materials.
Hundreds and possibly thousands of them now risk losing their sole source of income as a result. Dozens of vendors gathered outside the Yerevan Mayor’s Office to express anger at the measure and demand a meeting with Karapetian on Wednsday and Thursday. The mayor ignored the calls for a meeting on both days. A municipal official basically said they don’t care about the social implications of enforcing the law.
On a related note, the new Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian said on Wednesday, that “The future of our agriculture lies in the enlargement of land plots and farms.”
Hundreds of thousands of small land owners have been struggling to make their ends meet, hamstrung by a lack of state assistance, irrigation, cheap credit as well as broader economic problems facing Armenia. A growing number of them has reportedly been selling their plots to a new class of wealthy landowners.
Karapetian said that small farms are inherently inefficient because few of their owners can buy tractors and other agricultural machinery.
The minister previously managed one of the country’s largest food-processing companies, Artfood. He co-owns it with several other individuals, a fact that has raised questions about a possible conflict of interests.
“He is a food buyer, he is a natural rival of farmers,” Hrant Bagratian, a former prime minister critical of the current government, said last week. “He will mess up things. You can’t be an agribusiness chief and a good agriculture minister.”
One would think that Mr. Karapetian (the Mayor) and Mr. Karapetian (the Agriculture minister) would feel obliged to at least explain, what in their opinion those thousands of small merchants and farmers should do to make a living as a result of their policies… To me, the obvious choice is migration…