YEREVAN—Veteran vendors at Vernissage, the famed outdoor market in central Yerevan that recently went under reconstruction to increase its appeal to tourists, are fed up. Many of them say that despite recent “improvements” to the market, the site is increasingly becoming a place that obstructs the promotion of local handmade goods.
They complain that artisan products are being pushed out by cheap, mass produced souvenirs, which have a generic ‘ethnic’ look, but have been produced in China or brought from a local department store (“Petak”) in Yerevan for resale.
Some vendors are complaining of poor management of the market. The price of stalls is 1,000 AMD per square meter, all year round, even though business drops dramatically during the winter, and vendors are required to pay in cash, but get no receipt in return. According to Hetq, who reached out to the limited liability company in charge of the managing rents, the company’s director says the year-round rents are used to pay utilities, taxes, and wages of the crews that maintain the market.
Other vendors complain that there is not enough room in the market, telling Hetq.am that between 80 to 85 vendors have to be turned away each weekend due to a lack of space.
Vernissage was established in 1980s as a way for mostly art students to display their art in public. By the 1990s, it became one of the primary centers for art exhibitions, which reached tourists, and one of the few places in which artists were able to sell their work. As a result, merchants also began hosting stands there. The reputation for artistry and originality holds strong to this day, though artisans offering handmade products are in decline.
More News from Armenia in Brief:
- Organic Fertilizer from California Red Worms. ABOVYAN—ORWACO, an Armenian-Norwegian joint venture based in the city of Abovyan, is using California red worms to create biohumus, a fertilizer from organic waste. Also known as Red Wigglers, the worms consume organic material and, after digesting, expel a residue that is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and many micronutrients as well as a reduced level of unhealthy contaminants. Composting with worms, also known as vermicomposting, also reduces landfill waste. The increased crop yield from biohumus is better resistant to disease and pests.
- Pashinyan: Russia Capable of Preventing Resumption of War. YEREVAN—Speaking to reporters on Friday, July 20, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan highlighted Russia’s integral role in maintaining peace in the Caucasus. Pashinyan noted, “I am convinced that Russia has all the levers to prohibit escalation in the region. I cannot believe that Russia, Armenia’s strategic partner and centuries-old friend, will allow the resumption of war in the region. I cannot even believe that Azerbaijan would dare carry out any instigation or activity without the existence of geopolitical conditions. We must all be more sincere and zealous regarding our treaty obligations.” Pashinyan also noted that, regardless, Armenia must be prepared at all times to defend its territory. He emphasized the important of open dialogue and transparent relations with Russia.
- Pashinyan Reaffirms Criticism of the EU. YEREVAN—On Friday, July 20, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan shined a spotlight on the European Union’s slow response to the recent changes in the Armenian government. EU officials have been requesting detailed proposals for specific reform-oriented projects before delivering increased aid to Armenia. The Prime Minister stated it was particularly troubling that the EU failed to recognize the achievements in the early stages under his leadership. Pashinyan noted, “I said that the current government did more, without spending a penny, to combat corruption in one month than what happened during cooperation between the EU and Armenia’s government at a cost of tens of millions of euros [in EU funding.] I said that my government did more for having an independent judicial system in Armenia in one week or even day than what was done as a result of cooperation between the EU and Armenia’s former government costing tens of millions of euros.” At the same time, he emphasized that the battle against corruption is being waged by and for the Armenian people, not to achieve financial compensation.
- Angele Merkel to Visit Caucasus. BERLIN, Germany—German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning a trip to the capitals of the three Caucasus republics in August. Diplomatic sources indicate Merkel will visit Tbilisi on August 23, Yerevan on August 24 and Baku on August 25. In May, Merkel had offered a message of congratulations to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, “As a reliable partner, Germany will continue to assist Armenia in its drive for modernization and implementation of reforms and will make efforts for the deepening of bilateral friendly relations, as well as for the peaceful development of the region. I very much welcome the fact that all those involved in the political processes of recent days and weeks have shown a great sense of responsibility for the benefit of the Armenian people. I wish you every success and all the best in the formation of the new government and throughout your tenure.”