Peter Gay’s Letter from…. Armenia
Editor's Note: We are delighted to include Peter's letters in the Business Bulletin. Over the years, Peter has been a regular correspondent with contributions from the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Peter is probably Northern Ireland's most respected and experienced business counsellor, mentor and adviser and has worked all over Europe for a variety of NGOs during the past twenty years. Right now Peter is working in Armenia on a UNICEF project and over the next few weeks, the Bulletin will be carrying his letters on a regular basis.
Where do Astronauts drink?
Get the answer here......
As my Air France plane gently descended over Yerevan city I could see the snow and ice glittering in the moon light. After a 30 minute anxious wait my luggage eventually appeared and I was happy to see a friendly driver bearing the UNICEF badge.
Off we went into the chill -12° evening. My driver was happy to give me a potted history of the country.
Apparently Armenia was the first country to embrace Christianity some years before Rome making the Armenian Church the oldest in Christendom.
I always wondered why the Americans insist on calling white skinned people Caucasian but I was quickly put right on that, apparently the Caucasus was the cradle of the whites and ancient sites of over 6000 years history are still being discovered all over the country. When asked about the main industry my driver pointed towards the Brandy factory, apparently the Ararat brand is the best. And yes, Mount Ararat is in Armenia.
Now ensconced in my role as consultant in the reform of social services I am learning a lot about the country. Armenia is one of the poorest countries in the region and here are some of the reasons. Armenia went to war with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the Nagoro Karabakh region. You might remember this little war back in the 90s, when after the collapse of the USSR Karabakh was ceded to Azerbaijan even though it had historically been part of Armenia and has an 85% Armenian population. Armenia won that war but continues to pay a heavy price for its victory. Karabakh is now an autonomous territory, a bit like Turkish Cyprus and its recognised by no country except Armenia.
The real sting is that the border with Azerbaijan is closed and mined and the Turkish border is also closed (the Turks coming out in sympathy). Of course Armenia has its own long standing dispute with Turkey over the alleged genocide of Armenian people living in Turkey in 1915. What this means is the Armenia has only 2 borders open, with Georgia and Iran. Everything that is imported or exported must come through these 2 borders and this has had a detrimental effect on the economy. The relationship with Iran is interesting, 2 countries with apparently nothing in common are friends, perhaps a case of my enemy’s enemy……
Sadly the effect of the war and disputes with neighbours is all too apparent in the economy. Also military service is compulsory for all males from 18-20.
Very low wages, high unemployment, almost no manufacturing and a diaspora of folk living all over the world. Apparently there are more Armenians living outside the country that inside it. So, I see some parallels with our own country and some of them salutary lessons. The world has forgotten this place, it attracts almost no inward investment and its brightest and best want to emigrate.
I visited a special needs school today, a run down Soviet building with staff doing their best with children with various disabilities and none other than poverty. It was the kind of place you really wouldn’t want anyone close to you to ever have to enter.
My job is to lead the project to close these places down and to replace them with community based services. Right now it feels a bit like a big ask. Next week I travel down country to the region beside the Iranian border; its our pilot region. More of that later.
One last thought, Armenia does have one good market; gambling and drinking holidays from folk living south of the border where such things are verboten!
You can send your comments to Peter here - Peter Gay, Yerevan, January 2013
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Course Dates and Venues
With Northern Ireland currently hosting an impressive series of events, celebrations and new visitor attraction launches, we need to provide worldclass customer service to our visitors. For just £20 per participant, this practical, activity-based, 2-day customer training course will help businesses gain a competitive edge and build repeat business through customer service excellence and providing a world class welcome to all visitors. It also includes a half-day trip to local tourist attractions.
Who is WorldHost Training for?
Private businesses in the retail, tourism, hospitality, leisure and passenger sectors with under 250 employees
How much does the course cost?
Only £20 per person - discounted from the full £190 cost as the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) are paying 90% of the course cost (£170). The Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the sector skills council People 1st and the Department of Employment and Learning are working in partnership to provide this WorldHost customer service training.
Lurgan – 21 & 28 January
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Banbridge and Cookstown - 25 Feb & 4 March
To find out more, please call Lynda Willis on 07773 423675 or email Lynda@customersensetraining.co.uk
25 January 2013, 09:30, Dublin 2, CPD 2.5 hours.
This event has been designed to enhance marketers' understanding of various aspects of digital marketing including search, pay per click, display, video, mobile and the future according to Google. It also includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Google headquarters.
Business change in a digital age
19 February 2013, 12:00, Belfast, CPD 1 hour.
Múirne Laffan, managing director at RTÉ Digital, through innovative examples will show how RTÉ is placing content at the core of its development. Krishna De provides practical guidance on how to integrate social technologies into your marketing and PR communications. In association with CIPR Northern Ireland.
The Pitch NI
22 February 2013, 17:00, Belfast, CPD 1 hour.
The competition grand final in which the remaining three teams of marketing students present a potential marketing strategy for a brief provided by our sponsor, Subway. Will you agree with the judges' decision?
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Simply register to come to one of our upcoming information seminars where you will find out more about the Programme. Please note that these are FREE to attend. Details of the information seminars are as follows:
29 January 13
Banbridge Enterprise Agency, Scarva Road Industrial Estate, Scarva Road, Banbridge BT32 3BQ
17:00 – 18:30
6 February 13
SIGNAL, Enterprise House, Balloo Avenue, Balloo Industrial Estate, Bangor BT19 7QT
17:00 – 18:30
13 February 13
Fairways Hotel, Dublin Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth .
17:00 – 18:30
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71441 - - PLATO EBR Programme Mentoring Expertise
Publication date: 17-01-2013
Response deadline: 06-02-2013 16:00 GMT
Procedure: Competitive Dialogue (NON OJEU)Description: PLATO EBR seeks quotations from suitably qualified Individuals and/or organisations for the provision of mentoring expertise to support the SME participants of PLATO Group Activity. Approximately 15 companies will be recruited into 16 Groups within the East Border Region.
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71502 - Cavan Gathering 2013 Guide - A Gathering Festivals & Events Guide 2013 is currently being compiled
Publication date: 18-01-2013
Response deadline: 04-02-2013 17:00 GMT
Procedure: Open Procedure (NON OJEU)Description: A Gathering Festivals & Events Guide 2013 is currently being compiled for County Cavan and this will be a key promotional and marketing tool. The Guide will list all festivals and events (over 120) taking place in Cavan throughout 2013. This guide will be branded as ‘The Gathering Ireland Cavan 2013’ guide and will be widely distributed. In addition to the Guide, various promotional materials will be required.
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71294 - Project_11031 - InterTradeIreland - Creative Design, Advertising, Print and Related Services
Publication date: 15-01-2013
Response deadline: 25-02-2013 15:00 GMT
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NPT Fabio System Software Licence
Friends & Family Test - Nottingham University Hosptials Trust
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