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Le Cafe de Paris Owner Finally Decides to Close Up Shop and Leave Armenia

Ashkhen (Valerie) Gordzounian, the owner of Le Cafe de Paris situated on Yerevan’s Abovyan St., assured Epress.am today that the Armenian authorities will bother her also in the sale of her cafe. Note, the French-Armenian cafe owner has decided to sell her cafe and finally leave Armenia.

“For 16 years, I invested all that I had in Armenia, and I am considered one of the first investors, but so far our government has created only obstacles for both me and the companies I manage. It pains me that in leaving Armenia, I am leaving my good friends, who I acquired during these years. The state doesn’t think that Armenia needs the Armenian Diaspora, and to fix the country, like air and water, outside assistance is necessary.  My example will be a lesson for many who will be careful in investing in Armenia. State bodies are elected to ease this country’s burden, to serve the people and the economy, to create means… but if they are unable to help the people, they shouldn’t remain,” she said.

According to her, the Armenian authorities’ campaign against her has a long history.

“Four years ago, personal issues with my husband became the reason for harassment against me. From the beginning, my husband, with major considerations of owning the business, was creating various conspiracies against me. Eventually, [my husband] having close relations with the current authorities and being unable to snatch my property, the persecution against me began on a state level. The [Ministry of] Justice helped, after the divorce, for my husband to acquire my two apartments, but he was unable to take Le Cafe de Paris. On Aug. 10, 2010, the tax department inspected my company and registered accounting violations. They showed me a deed of 48 million drams [approx. $125,153 USD] which I was obliged to pay in a very short period of time. I became witness to things never heard or seen of in Armenia, and I understood that a person who has problems with the tax office has issues with not only the justice ministry, but also a number of other agencies. It turned out that because of daily interest, the amount [owed] became 80 million drams [approx. $208,589 USD],” she said.

The diaspora Armenian entrepreneur described how she contacted head of the RA Presidential Oversight Service Hovhannes Hovsepyan, RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and different appropriate agencies, asking for more time to pay off her debt.

“What surprised me was the treatment by our judges and authoritative bodies. The judges are bribed — there’s no justice. They obliged me to pay off my debt in a brief period. The Armenian Diaspora likewise responded and some of my friends appealed to the prime minister, to provide more time, but the prime minister refused. Vahe Petrosyan, whose company was dealing with my company’s accounting and as a result of whose work the debt was formed, being well acquainted with Armenia’s laws, had nothing in his name; consequently, he and the accounting firm he managed couldn’t have paid that debt.

“Not having the money, I was forced to sell the coffee roasting company belonging to me and I paid my debt,” she said.

The Le Cafe de Paris owner asserts that till today, different measures are applied against her.

“I didn’t know that there is a molybdenum mine beneath Le Cafe de Paris; otherwise why are the Armenian authorities interested in this company? The final period has already been placed, and Le Cafe de Paris is up for sale. I am leaving Armenia — disappointed and in deep pain. I did everything to save the company I founded and cherished, but in vain. My only goal is that after me, Le Cafe de Paris will have a virtuous owner, not for an ‘unshaven,’ ‘thick-necked’ and ugly person [i.e. oligarch] to come and manage all this. I want for my employees to remain and be in safe hands. I will leave for Paris and I will work in my cherished business, which I will establish after erasing my Armenia memories,” she said.

According to Gordzounian, the recent wave of protest shown by local residents on social networks (by creating groups in support of the cafe and its owner) was an indescribable surprise for her. Gordzounian adds that she is leaving Armenia with pain in her heart.

“I am a part of this people; I buried my friends at Yerablur [military cemetery]; I participated in the Karabakh War. I did all this with my own will ad today I am horrified when I see that day by day Armenians are leaving Armenia. I am terribly concerned that people, disappointed, are leaving, and leaving are intelligent and capable people. Here they pressure and trample on educated people; here, everything beautiful is eliminated and sunk by the ‘thick-necked’ and ‘unshaven’ [i.e. the oligarchs].”