YEREVAN, Armenia, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Armenia's economic development will remain under question without a peaceful settlement of the military conflicts in the region, said an Armenian expert in a recent interview with Xinhua.
For the last couple of years, Armenia has had the vision of transforming the resort town of Dilijan into a financial center of the South Caucasus region, but lacks necessary conditions such as stability in the region and good-neighborly relations, said Vahagn Khachaturyan, vice president of Political Legal Economic Research and Forecast Center (PLERF).
Armenia and its neighbor Azerbaijan are locked in a decades-long feud over the region of Nagorny-Karabakh. The two sides have not yet signed a deal on the disputed enclave.
A peaceful settlement of the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict and the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are crucial to the economic development of the region, otherwise communications will not be exploited to their full strength, said Khachaturyan.
The expert also stressed the importance of the railroad connecting landlocked Armenia with Iran, saying that "without an exit to the east, it will be quite difficult for Armenia to be involved in large-scale economic projects."
Currently, Armenia is in isolation because of the Karabakh conflict. The pipeline Baku-Jeyhan and the railroad Baku-Tbilisi-Kars went past Armenia even though it would be much cheaper to go through the country, Khachaturyan said regretfully.
To expand its transaction space, Armenia has concluded negotiations on a free trade deal with the European Union (EU), bringing it within reach of formalizing closer ties with the bloc at a summit in November.
In addition, Armenia is getting ready to join a customs union grouping Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Regarding these two deals, Khachaturyan has his own opinions.
He believes that the best option for Armenia would be the possibility of benefiting both from the Customs Union and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), an economic and trade document with the EU, without necessarily joining one or the other structure.
But for such a possibility, Armenia had to express its will in that regard openly, he added.