Steel manufacturer determined to continue construction of plant in Yeraskh despite Azeri shootings
YEREVAN, JUNE 15, ARMENPRESS. The construction of the smelter plant in Yeraskh is temporarily halted but will resume after clarifying several technical issues with authorized bodies, GTB Steel CEO Tiran Hakobyan told reporters.
GTB Steel is building the steelworks in Yeraskh which came under Azerbaijani gunfire on June 14. Two construction workers were wounded in the shooting.
“Of course we are worried about the incident, but there’s no panic. We are in the sovereign territory of Armenia, we are resolute in our activities, we will not stop and we will continue to work,” Hakobyan said.
The fact that equipment and workers are targeted means that Azerbaijan seeks to disrupt the construction of the plant, he added.
“The reason is clear, they don’t want Armenia to become economically stronger. While our factory will have a rather large investment in the Armenian economy. After completing construction the plant will produce approximately 200-250 thousand tons of rebar annually from black steel, and Armenia will be the main consumer. We view Middle Eastern countries as a market as well,” Hakobyan said.
GTB Steel is co-owned by American companies, with only one of the beneficiaries being Armenian – Grigor Ter Ghazaryan. Building the plant in Yeraskh was Ghazaryan’s idea.
“We had offers to build the plant in various parts of Armenia. We came to Yeraskh at the desire of Grigor Ter Ghazaryan, one of our co-owners, because it’s very important for the border zone to develop. Everyone knows that we have tax privileges, we are exempt from VAT, but we’ve refused this privilege and we are paying VAT,” he said.
200 workers are employed at the construction site. 70 of them are citizens of India.
Indian embassy staffers have visited the two Indian workers at a hospital who were wounded in the June 14 Azeri shooting.
“Since the plant is a technological one, we use the skills of our Indian partners in some issues. We were working normally before these shootings began,” he said, adding that none of the workers want to quit.