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Why Armenia's PM Thanks God (Sometimes) for Lack of Oil

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (R) shakes hands with a World War II veteran on May 9, 2011 as Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian (C) listens during Victory Day celebrations in Yerevan, marking the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (R) shakes hands with a World War II veteran on May 9, 2011 as Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian (C) listens during Victory Day celebrations in Yerevan, marking the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Radio Yerevan—supposedly the only communist radio that told the truth—was, during the former communist regimes in Eastern Europe, an imaginary radio station in Armenia and a very popular feature of jokes that circulated in that bleak region before the 1989 revolutions.

The punch lines were basically answers to questions addressed by listeners to Radio Yerevan. One popular joke was: "Would it be possible to bring communism to Switzerland?" a listener asks. "Yes, but it would be a pity," Radio Yerevan answers.

The Eastern Europeans in the audience at a conference about Russia during the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia in Vienna could be forgiven for remembering - fondly—Radio Yerevan jokes after hearing the answer of Armenia's Prime Minister, Tigran Sargsyan, to a question from the audience.

"Is the high price of commodities a blessing or a curse for your country?" one participant asked representatives of Russia, Kazakhstan and Armenia at the panel "Spotlight on Russia" on Wednesday afternoon.

"Sometimes we say thank God we don't have oil," Sargsyan answered, smiling. "We have to use our brains instead."

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